Course Description and Objectives
This is a course on the traditional techniques and materials of fresco painting, where you will work on site in the redecoration of ancient structures. The course covers the methods of application and painting used for fresco from the Roman Empire through the Renaissance. The painting site and lodgings are on the working farm of Villa Vallerosa, in the Sabina area (between Perugia and Rome), where you will spend two full weekends to complete a fieldwork project. The project goal is for you to assist in the recuperation of neglected structures and research local periods and styles, while learning the ancient techniques of fresco painting.
This course not only incorporates elements of studio art and art history, but also the idea of a medieval bottega, or artist studio, where students/apprentices are assigned tasks both in working and living together. Local site visits will familiarize you with the styles and materials available as historic trade flourished between Rome and Umbria, and how the technique of fresco and the availability of materials influenced style over the centuries.
Fieldwork Project Description
This project will involve the design, redecoration, and partial restoration of an 18th century well house on the grounds of Villa Vallerosa. You will research neoclassical models of Roman frescoes, grotesques, and faux marbling to inform the final fresco design. Part of the structure was painted recently, which needs repair or replacement; therefore, a portion of the course will be dedicated to the discussion of the ethics of restoration and redecoration.
You are responsible for all required materials, which you can bring with you 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
Cennino Cennini. Craftsman’s Handbook, p.20-57
Giorgio Vasari. On Technique, p.203-223
Ralph Mayer. The Artists’ Handbook of Materials and Techniques
This course has a special calendar, which requires students to work on-site at Villa Vallerosa for two full weekends (once in the first part of the semester and again in the second part). During these weekends, you will take day trips to visit medieval frescoes in religious sites close to Villa Vallerosa.