An Ancient Painting Technique that would suit the need of the Handicapped

Project approved by C.U.H. (United Handicapped Committee), with the cooperation of "Citta' Invisibile"

by Paolo Pasquinelli

Actors and objective: A group of handicapped people and a painter to decorate a wall at
"Il Prato", Viale Carducci 31, Livorno, Italy.

Historical Notes

Fresco techniques were first described by Vitruvius and Pliny when reporting on the Pompei and Rome mural paintings. Even though this type of art work is known to have been experimented in Athens, certainty has it that one of the first painters, who became popular for this technique was M. Ludius Elotta, in the year 20 b.C., during the reign of Emperor Augustus. In one of its writings Vitruvius states that the plaster used as base for fresco painting consists of "three layers of lime stone and sand", followed by a final layer of "limestone and fresh marble dust" mix, a useful element for fresco painting.

Plaster, music and the handicapped

Owing to its peculiar nature, fresco painting requires unusual skill and rapid execution.The work stages must find their completion in very brief time slots. A group of 5 handicapped are shown the way by painter Paolo Pasquinelli and his daughter Elisabetta who accompanies them with flute music.

The wall of "Il Prato"

We are aware that the whole activity must be completed within a maximum time span of three hours, a tested slot that will prevent unnecessary weariness. Moreover, three hours are the limit to which we should reasonably submit these young artists. We begin by selecting a section of a wall at "Il Prato", sufficiently adequate and ready to be covered with fresh plaster. The area is periodically sprayed with plain water and the handicapped get a kick out of "blessing " with a brush the portion of the wall designated to be painted; then everyone literally gets into the picture, blending water with lime stone, river sand and a handful of alabaster dust ; mixing doesn't stop until the the blend becomes a considerably rich texture. Alessandro, Tiziana, Roberto, Alessandro II, Daniela are the dear friends ( supposedly, carriers of some mysterious problem) who are actively engaged in spreading the first layer of plaster on the wet wall. Now, that’s good, clean fun indeed: splashes of plaster all over the place; the stuff sticks perfectly on the wall, but also on the trousers and the skirts of the would be artists. Fortunately, music fixes everything and gets everyone ready for the coming step, the actual drawing of the subject matter (multimedial arts and disabled)

the wall , a particular

Drawings and colours: a homage to Colfiorito

The handicapped are having a lot of fun melting the powder colours selected by the artist for the fresco.A spoonful in 100 ml of water, then mix to a perfectly even blend. Zinc white, veronese green, cadmium yellow, vermilion red, earth shade, deep blue, ivory black, orange. A jar and a fresh brush for every colour. Thirty minutes after the plaster has begun to dry up, the wall is ready for the basic drawing. Paolo Pasquinelli, the artist teacher and the 5 handicapped decide to paint an imaginary landscape which is ideally connected with Colfiorito, one of the towns in Umbria hit by the earthquake: " We exchanged messages with the mlist Sostegno that works as supporter of the "Tendopoli" project :" says Alessandro who remembers our promise, still unkept , to go visit them. Our homage to Colfiorito, represented in a real fresco, will make up for the lateness. Paolo begins to trace the pattern utilizing an ox bristle, round tip brush dipping it in the orange colour jar. His are swift and determined strokes that give life to those "fractal caps" that he is so artistically fond of : bell tower pinnacles, dome roofs, chimneys that serve as launching pads for the handicapped contributors' personal artistic fancy. Roberto, the tallest of them, takes of course, on the highest portion of the wall; Tiziana takles the lowest area, while Daniela and Alessandro II look on. They can work on the already traced medieval style buildings. The fresco comes alive with the colours; while the green of the surrounding vegetation and the blue of the sky serve as a perfect background to the artwork that's being created.

a particular of the painting

Fresco accomplished

The fresco shows all its sunny characteristics, enhanced by the streaks of light created as strokes of white paint are applied on the subject. The silent presence of spectators, who had been hiding up to that moment, causes some happy shrieking, followed by the high pitch notes played by the flute.

Homage to Colfiorito

The job is done. Paolo Pasquinelli, the teacher artist, the handicapped: Alessandro, Daniela, Tiziana, Roberto, Alessandro II and Elisabetta Pasquinelli,the flutist, are interviewed by press agent Otello Chelli from the daily "Il Tirreno", who springs out of the trees in "Il Prato" like a goblin in a fairy tale. So, the work day, just as the ancient texts on fresco painting would contemplate, is over. The wall is now waiting to be completely frescoed. The story continues.

Colfiorito plane, fresco

Livorno, 9 July 1998
Voluntary Committee of Citta' Invisibile.
last update 10 Dec. 2006