Saturday, October 31, 2009

15_New School for the Arts and Academics in Tempe

I drove up to Phoenix from Tucson to push portable fresco. Yesterday I mixed the lime with the sand, and stored that plaster in a Tupperware-like container, doing the dirty work back in Tucson. This morning, 31 October 2009 (Halloween), I plastered the tile in Phoenix, and drove to the New School for the Arts and Academics, an art high school in Tempe, to their Saturday morning open figure drawing. Then before noon, I asked MD to do a quick painting sketch on the fresco tile. The idea was to be less obtrusive, by doing most of the preparation ahead of time, outside of the drawing studio. The lime plaster mix seemed to keep fine overnight.

The final quick trial sketch on fresco:

I mixed the sand and lime, one to one, in Tucson the day before, on a plastic cutting board. Then I stored it in the airtight round tub on the lower right, and further sealed the lime plaster in plastic wrap:

Here I laid out the supplies I needed to carry to Phoenix. Lime plaster in tub, trowel, Hardibacker cement tile, plastic box, Masterson Artists Palette Seal:

Metal frame with wire, E6000 glue, brushes, pigments, watercolor palettes. Not shown, distilled water. I also wished I brought a putty knife and a small spray water bottle:

All the supplies fit well in 2 boxes (clean up bucket and sponge extra):

This morning I plastered the tile (and then put it in the plastic box to keep it wet in the car):

Waist high stand set up for painting the model on fresco:

Light stokes in dark pigment to define form:

The pigment was thick enough to paint dark lines:

Ultimately MD said it would have been better to have a larger watercolor palette, in order to pre-mix flesh colors. That way the artist can paint the right flesh color onto the fresco the first time, as fresco color does not lend itself to blending, or wiping off, like oil paint. The few basic pigments were fine, as MD likes working in a limited "Zorn" palette.

"The Loft" drawing and painting atelier at the NSAA.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

14_First big fresco

Gonzalo created a large fresco today -- 3 x 5 feet -- at the Sculpture Resource Center, 29 October, 2009. The colors were really beautiful after he finished (like Jorge Gonzalez Camarena and Orozco).

Jeff, a graduate art student at the University of Arizona, plastered the fresco panel for us. We met him
last week, during the demo for Alfred Quiroz's class, and asked him to help us out because he had the skills and the patience.

This large fresco suffered hairline cracks before Gonzalo even painted on it. We might have easily avoided this defect had I soaked the Hardibacker cement tile for a few hours, instead of about 45 minutes. Perhaps if we troweled the plaster on thicker, it would have dried slower, and cracked less.

Gonzalo started with this small drawing:

He enlarged the drawing with an opaque projector:

Then he used the pounce wheel to following the lines, and poke holes in the drawing:

He laid the drawing on a soft piece of cardboard, which would yield and allow the pounce wheel to punch holes:

The drawing pattern after it was perforated:

Metal frame for the fresco welded ahead of time:

Plastic put over metal frame (for soaking panel):

Gonzalo lowers Hardibacker cement board into frame covered by plastic sheet:

Filing frame, because it did not fit:

Soaking Hardibacker cement panel in distilled water:

Letting surface of panel dry, before plastering:

Plastering set-up:

Mixing lime plaster in rectangular bucket a bit at a time, storing in round bucket:

Mixing plaster on plastic cutting board (one part lime to one part sand):

Beginning to plaster:

Smoothing lime plaster:

We ran out of the first batch, and needed more plaster:

Mixing second batch:

Full coverage with second batch:

Striving for an even surface all over:

Smooth operator:

Final smooth surface, but still too wet to paint on:

Mental menudo. While waiting for the fresco surface to dry just a bit (so that it no longer glistened), we went out for menudo and discussion:

The night before, I ground all the pigments in distilled water. We used mostly MayaCrom® pigments and Sinopia pigments. I did buy cheap red iron oxide from Starr Gems (a rock hound store) , 1 micron size, which they sell to polish gold:

Placing the plastered panel into the metal frame:

The fresco developed hairline cracks before Gonzalo even painted on it. In spite of the fact that it was a cold day in Tucson, the cracks surely appeared because the lime plaster dried too fast. Perhaps we should not have troweled the plaster on in front of an open garage type door. Probably we should have troweled the plaster on thicker. I now think that if we had soaked the Hardibacker tile many hours, instead of less than one, the plaster would have cracked less:

Gonzalo placed the pounced drawing on top of the fresco:

With a brush, Gonzalo pushed pigment into the perforated holes, so that the basic lines would show up on the fresco surface:

Lifting the drawing, and revealing the faint lines on the fresco surface below:

Careful. Lifting fresco panel in frame:

Placing fresco panel on metal easel:

Pigments and brushes on a side table:

Gonzalo smearing the residue pigment from the pounced drawing on the fresco:

Ah color, Maestro!

An admirer:

Note the plastic flip top bottles in the lower right corner of photo. They contained pigments mixed in distilled water. The color did not squeeze out as easily as I imagined:

Lots of small cracks developed before the painting was finished:

We covered the fresco with plastic when finished, hoping this would slow the drying down, and retard the cracks that were developing:

Signed using the fresco lime itself as a white pigment:

Gonzalo designed the metal mural at the I-10 underpass on 22nd street, in Tucson, shown below with the TanTooZers:

Update: 5 November 2009 --

I selected 10 images and made 4x6 inch Kodak photobooks of the fresco process at WalMart:

Days later, when the fresco dried, the red iron oxide dried duller; and in some places formed cauliflower patterns. That red always seemed rather thirsty, and perhaps dried faster on the surface than the fresco below. Perhaps I did not grind that pigment into distilled water well enough:

The black iron oxide pigment dried into cauliflower patterns too. None of the other colors on the fresco dried in patterns:

Mikee welding washers onto the back of the metal frame, to hang the fresco:

Two metal washers welded onto the large fresco frame:

Detail of welded washer:

Gonzalo glued the fresco onto the metal frame with PL375 heavy duty construction adhesive, bought at Home Depot. When it dried a bit, he cut off the excess adhesive, that showed, with a knife:

We transported the fresco upright -- vertically, cushioned on layers of rug -- in order not to break the fresco. We did not want to lay the fresco flat in the bed of the truck, and risk vibrating the lime painting off the panel. Gonzalo also wrapped some plastic ribbon around the fresco to protect it. A few people cheered as we drove past the Epic Cafe :)

Fresco piece hanging in The People's Gallery, 2 blocks from the University of Arizona, for the first Thursday ArtWalk: