Image: Eye 1, mixed-media fresco, 3×3″, 2016, Margaret Keller
I decided to look at traditional fresco techniques, along with contemporary fresco, for my fall 2016 sabbatical from teaching painting. It turned out to be a huge and challenging topic. My plan included, among many other activities, researching traditional fresco techniques, especially buon fresco, learning how to use the materials and supplies, collecting all these materials and then making several fresco reproductions of ancient frescoes. My plan was to make 3; I made 12 frescoes in all. I also researched 64 fresco artists, both historical and contemporary. I collected images of all the historical frescoes, analyzed these frescoes as to their methods and made an archive of selected historical fresco artists. For contemporary artists, I created a list with links to their websites and also an archive where I discuss the work of ten I selected as especially innovative. Additionally, I made fresco ‘samplers’ trying out non-traditional media, such as digital transfers, solvent transfers, watercolor, acrylic, oil, acrylic medium, hydrocal, printmaking, markers, pencil and mixed-media. And I made many contemporary, experimental frescoes. This project turned out to be messy, difficult, overwhelming, fulfilling, fascinating, physically challenging (lots of heavy mixing of plasters and troweling), fun, addictive and ultimately, great information for my painting students. I also collected videos and websites and created a vast fresco bibliography, along with a fresco curriculum for my college courses.