Kids Get Arty – creating a fresco with kids

by Jen in Da Vinci,fresco painting,great artists,kids creating fresco,kids get arty

fresco fish painting
It is time yet again for the Kids Get Arty challenge over at Red Ted Art. Last month we pulled out our easel, canvases and paint to create dog paintings. We dove into the world and art of George Rodrigues…we had a blast. So, when we were wondering what to do for the challenge this time our first stop was the library. We scoured the book shelves and landed on a really fun DVD; “WOW: Mastering the Louvre”. As soon as I saw that this film was all about venturing through the Louvre I knew the girls would love it.  When I think of the Louvre, I think of the most famous painting in the world the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. Ta Da…our artist for the challenge!
We found a great book about Da Vinci and learned some amazing facts. Did you know that Da Vinci wrote everything backwards!? In order to read something he wrote you had to place it in front of a mirror, really. As we read we focused in on a paint technique called “fresco.” Fresco is comes from the Latin word for “fresh”. It simply means painting on fresh plaster. This was a common way to paint inside cathedrals and churches. Da Vinci’s most famous fresco is “The Last Supper“. I remember being in high school art class and creating my first fresco. I loved that art class with Mr. Fermanchuck…what a great teacher! I really wanted to experiment with fresco with my girls. Here is what we did.
child sketching a fish
Since the very nature of a fresco is to work in fresh plaster, it is important to have a plan or a sketch from which to work. The girls grabbed some paper and began sketching.
child mixing the plaster
Next, we brought all of our supplies outside onto the front porch. It was a beautiful day, so why not head outside. We mixed up the plaster of paris (that we picked up at our local art supply store) according to the package directions. We used small plastic plates as our forms. 
plaster in plate forms
We allowed the plates of plaster to dry for about 10 minutes, until they started to harden. The girls then started painting. It is important to work quickly. My youngest daughter, Cee, wanted to flip out the plaster and paint on the smoother side…so I flipped it out. 
painting with kids
kids painting outside

When their frescoes were complete they were lovely. We noted how quickly the plaster had hardened…much faster than it would have traditionally. I think our new-age quick drying plaster was probably not the best choice, oh well. In the end, the girls could see that their brush strokes actually moved the plaster and embedded into the plaster. This technique is much more 3D than working on a canvas, although you can create 3D art on canvas too…that’s another story.

a fresco of fish
a fish in water
a flag with faces
a flag with faces

I really enjoy these multi-step art projects. Following a project from the research, planning, mixing and creating is an easy way to teach children organization skills. Having kids participate in the sequence of events lifts the “veil” on the finished piece of art. Now when we visit the gallery, my girls will truly understand what it takes to make a fresco. Wonderful!

We are very excited to be linking up again with Kids Get Arty – Exploring the Great Artists over at Red Ted Art. You really must head over and check out all the other incredible art projects from around the world. Did your kids get arty lately, please feel free to link up your experiences too! 

Red Ted Art
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rachelle | tinkerlab July 18, 2012 at 10:43 am

What a delightful project! I’m captivated by experiences that encourage children to test and play with new materials and it looks like your kids had a lot of fun with this. Okay, off to pin it!

KitchenCounterChronicles July 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Thanks Rachelle! It really was fun!

MaryAnne K July 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm

This is very cool! I’ve never done anything with Plaster of Paris, and I want to try it out sometime.

Thanks for sharing with learning laboratory =)

KitchenCounterChronicles July 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm

I was so excited to work with Plaster of Paris…memories of my childhood!

Artchoo! July 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I love that not only did you tackle Da Vinci as your artist, you also dove into working with plaster! Great project, and great idea using the plates. My daughter will LOVE doing this. Thanks! Found you through the Kids Get Arty link!

KitchenCounterChronicles July 19, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Thanks for stopping by! It really was very simple and fun to do!

Naptime Review July 21, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Great projects! My daughter would love to get messy in paint! Thanks for sharing!

New follower from TGIF Party. Love for you to stop by and return the follow when you can!

Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas July 22, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I have never worked with plaster of paris – what a fun project! Love the different steps involved. :)

maggy, red ted art July 23, 2012 at 5:53 am

How wonderful to all the way back to da vinci. Fantastic. And the plaster of paris is a genius idea. What a great project and fantastic pieces of art!

Thank you so much for joining us on our Kids Get Arty journey!


Jennifer January 16, 2013 at 11:38 am

Welcome to a new Linky Party for Kid-Focused Bloggers. Monday Kid Corner is a place to share your kid-friendly activities and crafts. Please join us at See you there!

Julie January 20, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Thank you so much for the explicit directions! I am making frescoes with several children at one time, and I needed to know how long to let it set before turning it over and painting! Excellent.

Cathy B. August 28, 2015 at 10:35 am

I love this tutorial! Thank you. What kind of paint did you use for the fresco? Tempera, Acrylic, watercolor? Cathy

Jen August 31, 2015 at 9:08 am

Acrylic paints. Thanks for stopping by.

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