Sinopia Demonstration

In preparation for painting the lunette and ceiling frescoes in the newly remodeled cast hall, students from the academy’s Mural Guild will paint copies from the celebrated ignudi of Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.

These figures will be painted with a limited palette in oil on panel to correspond with the pigments required in a fresco translation. Each panel will function as a color cartoon from which a careful outline tracing will be made. Small holes pricked along these outlines are used with a pouncing technique to transfer the contours from the tracing onto a plaster surface.

In the images above, student instructor Peter Daniel demonstrates the first stage in preparation for painting in buon fresco. Using the tracing made from his painted oil panel, the image is pounced onto a dry plaster surface. The plaster surface shown here is a panel designed specifically for the Michelangelo copies by Patrick Webb, plaster artisan and former Professor of Plaster Working at the American College of the Building Arts in Charleston, SC.

Once the pouncing has been made, a sinopia is painted onto the plaster to fix and connect the dots of dry pigment using a red ochre which is ground in water with no binder. The finished sinopia underpainting is then ready to receive the final layer of wet intonaco plaster – into which the final fresco will be painted.

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