Fresco workshop

I offer a buon fresco painting workshop that suits adults with any level of art-making experience.

This workshop enables you to experience one of the oldest and richest methods in the history of painting: buon fresco. A famous example of this method is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. However, buon fresco painting is a lot older, with some of the earliest known examples made between 1500 and 2000 BCE as an important part of Cretan-Minoan Bronze Age culture. The durability of buon fresco is evidenced in these striking wall and ceiling paintings that still clearly depict imagery celebrating Minoan belief systems and their connection with nature. I have adapted the buon fresco method to work on small tiles to enable more people to enjoy this ancient process and to engage closely with the traditional materials in a fun and accessible way.

“What will I make?”

I invite you to make your own unique, colourful frescoes on small tiles by following detailed, step-by-step guidance. Suitable for any level, this hands-on workshop using specialist materials provides a balance of structured, guided learning and individual experimentation. My aim is that participants enjoy a sense of mindful immersion while focusing on the materials and the process, rather than worrying too much about the end result.

“What is buon fresco?”

Meaning ‘true’ fresco, buon fresco is the method of applying pigments dispersed in water onto wet plaster, the intonaco, to create durable paintings on walls and ceilings. This differs from fresco a secco, ‘dry’ fresco, which is the method of applying pigments mixed with a binder to dry plaster. 

Traditionally, the buon fresco artist prepares the wall or ceiling with three or more layers of plaster, made with varying ratios of slaked lime putty and aggregate such as fine sand. The paint is applied to the intonaco, the final, smoothest and thinnest layer of plaster that contains less sand than the penultimate, coarser layer, the arriccio. I have worked out the best formula of intonaco for your tiles, and we will be using a combination of marble dust and fine sand as our aggregate. 

When the artist paints on the wet buon fresco surface, the pigment particles, carried in water, are locked into the intonaco as it dries. During the chemical process of the slaked lime reacting with the air, the pigments become embedded in a stone-like surface and therefore the artist’s marks become a physical part of the painting-object. 

Using the same method and similar materials that artists have used for centuries, I will help you to create unique, interesting fresco artworks without having to re-plaster your walls or ceiling. 

"What’s included?"

- the tiles (participants are invited to make four fresco paintings on 10cm x 10cm tiles and there will be 15.5cm x 15.5cm tiles available for those who feel they can manage the larger size having applied the intonaco to the four smaller tiles) 

- hanging fixtures for you to attach later

- specialist, artisan materials required for making the intonaco

- the pigments

- safety equipment including goggles, gloves and dust masks (please bring your own Covid face mask in addition) and sanitising equipment;

- tools including brushes, palette knives, palettes and trowels

- refreshments

Please contact me if you're interested in making some fresco tiles.