Category Archives: The Medium

The Medium of Fresco:
Ca(OH)2(s) + CO2(g) —-> CaCO3(s) + H2O(l)

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Fresco School – How it Works?

Fresco School offers personally tailored, style-independent fresco painting curriculum since 1996.

Fresco School - How it Works? iLia Fresco painting

Fresco School – How it works.

“Fresco is a rigorous discipline with little margin for error, that requires you to leave your ego at the door, roll up your sleeves and dig in for the duration. Over the years, iLia has developed a method of teaching the principles of fresco in such a way that it does not infringe on personal style. iLia’s instruction is effective in transmitting not only the technical aspects, but also the proper attitude of respect toward the medium.”

Ioana B. Iconographer.

“I attended the LA fresco workshop with iLia. Eager to learn fresco with no prior knowledge of the history or process, iLia had a tall order to fill. And what a job of filling that order he did.

Karen B. Muralist.

“Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone” is a phrase from the “Conversation with God” books. As an oil painter of 24 years experience, I am comfortable using a layered oil painting technique that I developed over the years. My recent fresco class with Ilia and Ian took me out of my comfort zone in oils and thrust me into the uncomfortable realm of a new medium.

Ed K. Fine Artist

You met us at our Fresco Seminar or a Fresco Demo, have attended our Introduction to Fresco Workshop or simply found Fresco School searching online and want to know details on how it works?

We just published a detailed guide; Fresco School – How Fresco School Method Works?

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What is fresco painting?

The Lime Cycle and the Fresco Medium (the process)."

The Lime Cycle and the painting time chart

The key to understanding the medium of fresco is the Lime Cycle:
This illustrated guide will outline the main concept of the fresco medium, its process, historical perspective, techniques.


Slaked Lime is mixed with the inert aggregate such as, any and all – sand, crashed marble, pozzolan (tuff – volcanic ash), etc. General mixing proportion is one (lime) to two (aggregate), exact proportions may vary per style. The work must be completed during the formation of the Calcium Carbonate.

1 – The Medium of Fresco – Carbon Based Art for Carbon Based Life
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How to get started with fresco painting?

This guide will help you to get started with fresco painting in a fast and easy wayThis guide will answer the question about how to get started with fresco painting in a fast and easy way.

First step is to get organized and ready – You will be dealing with fresco plaster, drawing (cartoon), natural and lime stable synthetic pigments selection, fresco paint preparation and actual painting.

1. Designate and Set Up the “Plaster Area”:

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Multi-layer fresco didactic panel how to demo

Multi-layer fresco didactic panel, Early Renaissance with Renaissance plaster and Roman Grottesca with Roman plaster illustrated demonstration.

Early Reanessance and Roman Grottesca multi-layer didactic fresco panel, by iLia Fresco

Early Reanessance and Roman Grottesca multi-layer didactic fresco panel, by iLia Fresco

The above is a completed multi-layer didactic fresco panel, I have used existing cartoons from my exterior buon fresco project for the first layer and interior roman fresco project for the second painting layer. Most likely I would do some staining for the Roman part when first stage of curing process is complete – in a couple of weeks. In the following pictures I have outlined the main steps of the painting process.

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What binds pigment to the wall in fresco?

I often asked, what binds fresco paint (natural pigment diluted in water) to the surface in fresco painting?

calcite crystals in fresco painting

Here is a snapshot of the bucket where I rinse my fresco tools and fresco brushes.

Carbon dioxide from the air reacted with the calcium hydroxide (slaked lime) in the water forming a thin transparent crust. Some water had evaporated and you can see that the process restarts once the water surface opens up.

That is exactly what happens on the plaster and binds pigment to the surface.

Fresco Plaster – how to get it right?

Fresco Plaster - Buon Fresco Painting Foundations, Vol. 1 by iLia Fresco (Anossov)

BFF Volume 1 – Fresco Plaster is the essential tutorial and a must-have for the study of the medium of fresco. After over 17 years of practicing the medium and teaching, I have concluded that the cause of 95% of the problems and failures is the incorrectly prepared and applied final painting plaster coat (Italian Name – intonaco).

Any fresco plaster which proportions are available from various random sources, is suitable for painting a fresco (as long as it is calcium lime based). However each variant has its own set of advantages and limitations which are related to style and application.

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The Medium of Fresco

buon-fresco-foundations-5-dvd-4tall1000

In it’s essence, fresco or fresco painting is – an application of natural mineral pigments to a surface on which a following chemical reaction takes place:

Ca(OH)2(s) + CO2(g) —-> CaCO3(s) + H2O(l)

Calcium Hydrate (burned lime stone or marble mixed with water) combined with carbon dioxide resulting in the formation of Calcium Carbonate – lime stone, marble. The pigment gets trapped within the newly formed calcite crystal. It is like “Painting with molten Marble”. Continue reading