In a small street in the Oltrarno (the area on the other side of the river Arno from Piazza della Signoria, Florence's Left Bank, so to speak), in the artisans' territory of Borgo San Frediano you will find an interesting workshop called Accademia d'Arte San Giovanni where many of the arts which made Florence famous are taught and practised to this day.
Nineteen work stations had been neatly prepared for the participants each with the materials necessary for the course. A booklet on The Fresco was included in our kit.
|our kit: tracing paper, pencil, stylus and card for punching, fine and large brushes, seven pots of pigment in suspension, palette, water and paper towels plus the helpful booklet on fresco painting|
|the arriccio, the intonaco and the watercolour pigments|
|smoothing the intonaco or velo of wet plaster onto the individual wooden boards (our 'wall') already covered with arriccio|
Once the drawing has been transferred to the wall the difficult part -the painting- begins. Not only that, the clock has already started ticking: from the moment the stencil is dusted onto the plaster your time is limited by the plaster's capacity to dry. And, depending on atmospheric conditions, it can dry fairly quickly. The various pigments, made from the pulverized minerals, are absorbed by the plaster. As they dry they are fixed into the plaster through a chemical reaction. Frescoes are potentially long-lasting - barring flood, fire, earthquake and human destruction.
The participants' work was carried out with varying degrees of success but with overall great enjoyment. Personally, I learnt through my mistakes: how important it is to mix and dilute the pigments judiciously; light colours should be applied before dark; you must wait for the paint to dry before adding another layer or correcting a mistake; do not press too hard or you will bore holes in the plaster and so forth...
The Accademia d'Arte San Giovanni
via San Giovanni 23