Examples of Painting Techniques:

Fresco: Fresco is painted directly on a plastered wall. The plaster wall needs to be wet when the paint is applied so that the paint actually soaks into or is absorbed by the wall as it dries. The result is that the painting is not only on the surface of the wall, but a few millimeters deep within it. For the paint to be absorbed, the pigment needs to be suspended in water. How does the choice of fresco impact the color, definition of form, and detailing?



Take for example Raphael’s School of Athens, 1510-11. The painting measures 26 by 18 feet, the size of the wall. Due to the fact that the painting is water based, the colors are pale, higher value, and more pastel in tone. Though in some reproductions, objects may seem sharply defined with crisp contours and edges, in actuality, the edges are soft.

There is relatively little interior definition.  Clothing appears to look like solid shapes with few interior creases or folds.  The advantages of fresco? It is long lasting (it lasts as long as the wall it is part of), and it is relatively easy to clean (you wash it as you would wash a plaster wall, lightly with water). The negatives of fresco? It cannot be moved. If the building is a victim of an earthquake, the painting cannot be taken off the wall and preserved elsewhere. Also due to the necessity of applying the paint while the plaster of the wall is wet, the artist works with sprezzatura. If he paints slowly, the plaster will dry and the paint won’t penetrate into the wall and become permanent. If the artist worked too slowly or became distracted and the plaster dried before he got to it, he would have to chisel the dried plaster away, and apply fresh wet plaster when ready to paint. Due to this race against the clock, again, there will be a relative lack of detailing and sharpness of edges. Another consideration is the temperature and humidity in the room. Much fresco painting is seasonal. In the damp winter, the plaster would never dry and it would turn moldy. In the hot dry summer, the plaster would dry before the artist even had a chance. Clearly, there are many disadvantages, but these paintings last forever.