ARFP 210: Fresco Painting

Instructor: William Pettit - M.F.A.
Credits: 3
Course/Lab Fee: 70 Euros (course reader fee announced by the Print Shop)
Prerequisite: None
Cross-Listing: Studio Art

Course Description

This course will provide students with the material techniques and art historical context to understand Italian fresco painting. The art of fresco is particularly varied and includes drawing, painting, color theory and plaster preparation. Students will leave the course with knowledge of these techniques and be familiar with both the history of the fresco and its important artists and their work in central Italy.


Course Objectives

As a multi-media workshop, the course combines elements of art history and studio art. While the goal is to provide an introduction to the history of fresco painting in central Italy from the Roman period to the Renaissance, it is also to study the traditional techniques of fresco painting and engage in the production of fresco work. Students will learn all the phases of fresco making, from mortar mixing and surface preparation, drawing studies and transfer, to dry pigment preparation and application. Student projects may vary according to background and interest, from research projects to actual paintings, and, due to the scope of the subject, collaborations and group projects are encouraged. All students will display their finished work in an end-of-term art show held at the Institute.

Course MaterialsPhoto credits Molly Davis

Students are responsible for all required materials, which they can bring with them or purchase locally.

  • powdered pigments: terra verde, terra di ombra bruciata, terra di siena, terra di siena bruciata, sinopia, ocra gialla, blu oltremare, nero vite, an earth red (cinnabro, ventian red, english red, or pompeii red)
  • a small watercolor set and watercolor paper
  • brushes- round, boars hair, various sizes
  • several pencils and vine charcoal, an eraser
  • several sheets of drawing paper ( about 50 x70 cm)
  • glass jars with lids, one for every color
  • a plastic pallet (with mixing cups)
  • an apron or smock is suggested, or painting clothes
  • additional materials will be assigned as needed

Course Material

Giorgio Vasari’s On Technique and Ralph Mayer’s The Artists’ Handbook of Materials and Techniques will be on reserve in the library.

Mandatory course reader.


Community Project Description

Students in this course partner with a neighborhood organization in Perugia where, together, they create an artistic outlet for students’ artwork to be shared with the larger community. Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semester students will resurface, design, and paint a fresco of the Perugia skyline in the sensory garden of Fontenuovo, a residency for the elderly in Perugia’s historic city center, in celebration of their 130th anniversary.


Field Trip

Students will take a day trip to visit museums around Perugia.