Fresco Painting at the University of South Carolina: Medium of the Past, Art of Today

University of South Carolina
West Columbia, South Carolina
Art and Design
DOI: 10.18258/6800
Raised of $2,420 Goal
Funded on 4/28/16
Successfully Funded
  • $2,488
  • 102%
  • Funded
    on 4/28/16

About This Project

Fresco painting is one of the few mediums that can be traced back to ancient civilizations. It is a medium that requires the artist to work fast, and have a concise plan before beginning. I have been given the opportunity to fresco an outdoor wall on my University's campus. My challenge will be to bring this medium into our present culture by taking into account our various modern materials and potential weathering that may positively or negatively impact this ancient recipe.

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What is the context of this research?

This past June I studied at the International Center for the Arts in Monte Castello, Italy for a study abroad program. During this stay I visited, and studied, many famous frescoes created during the Italian Renaissance. Fresco painting is a unique process in that the artist paints pigments into a wet plaster surface. As this surface cures, it hardens into a calcium carbonate surface permanently suspending the pigments. Upon my return, my mentors suggested that I do a fresco painting on campus. I was provided with a wall in the garden of our University President's home. Many frescoes were painted indoors, therefore protecting them from weathering. Lime plaster can deteriorate by the mere presence of water. This water can also bring with it corrosive salts and acids from nearby surfaces.

What is the significance of this project?

This project is a tremendous learning opportunity for me to have as an undergraduate student. Fresco painting was a staple in the art world for many years but it is seldom used today. By tackling the issue of how to use this medium on an outside surface I plan to answer some of those unanswerable questions for other artists. Finding a solution to working on an incompatible surface and how to account for the weathering of an outside fresco mural will provide other artists with a more informative guide as to how we can replicate this medium in our modern world.

What are the goals of the project?

The objective of this project is to effectively use an ancient painting technique to create a modern work of art. This project will begin with research on how to create an impermeable barrier between the cement substrate of the exterior wall and the lime plaster that I will be using. This barrier will be created so that water and the salts from the cement cannot leach into the plaster. After the barrier has been built, the surface preparation with lime plaster will begin. The final intonaco plaster layer is the surface I will be painting into. It will be divided up into giornatas – what I am able to paint in a day. I will continue the painting in sections until it is complete. The results of this project will be presented to my university at Discovery Day.


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Many of the items are specialty items and therefore only found at a few retailers. The bulk of the material costs will go to researching and creating the right surface on the wall before I begin plastering because many surfaces are found to be incompatible with the lime plaster. Pigments and paint brushes will be needed because there are only certain types of pigments and animal hair brushes that are suitable with the lime. The jars will be used to hold the pigments after they have been ground with distilled water into paste form. Storage buckets will be used to hold excess plaster overnight until it can be used the next day. Sand, plastering tools, slaked lime, and safety equipment will all be used when mixing and using the lime plaster that I will prepare. Shipping costs are extremely high for many of these products because they are not manufactured locally.

* If I am able to fund half of my budget, the University of South Carolina will match the rest.

Endorsed by

Taylor's project is an exciting investigation into the interrelationships between chemistry and painting, the environment and culture as well as a link between the past and the present through this site specific revitalization of the ancient medium of fresco. The painting, located in the garden of the President's house on the University of South Carolina horseshoe promises to form a lasting and beautiful contribution to our campus that the community will enjoy for years to come!

Meet the Team

Taylor Tynes
Taylor Tynes

Taylor Tynes

I am an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina. I am currently in my senior year pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting. My work is primarily focused on still life and figurative oil paintings but I recently became interested in fresco painting after attending a Study Abroad program in Italy over the summer. Fresco painting is such a unique medium, very different from how I am accustomed to working. With oil painting I have a lot of time to work the surface and make changes, but with fresco I will have to work fast and have a carefully planned designed. I am excited to bring this medium to life on campus after seeing and studying so many famous frescoes in Italy.

Additional Information

Project Backers

  • 17Backers
  • 102%Funded
  • $2,488Total Donations
  • $73.18Average Donation
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