THE HISTORY OF MURALS & PAINTING TECHNIQUES

    Murals include a variety of techniques including fresco, encaustic, mosaic, stained glass and photography. Most contemporary artists will either paint on canavas and attach it to a wall or paint directly on the wall itself. The word mural is actually derived from the French word "mur" meaning wall. Acrylic paints have proven themselves to be one of the most durable paints available for exterios as well as interior mural painting.

History

    Murals of sorts date to Upper Paleolithic times such as the paintings in the Chauvet Cave in Ardèche department of southern France (around 30,000 BC). Many ancient murals have survived in Egyptian tombs (around 3150 BC),[2] the Minoan palaces (Middle period III of the Neopalatial period, 1700-1600 BC) and in Pompeii (around 100 BC - AD 79).
    There are many different styles and techniques. The best-known is probably fresco, which uses water-soluble paints with a damp lime wash, a rapid use of the resulting mixture over a large surface, and often in parts (but with a sense of the whole). The colors lighten as they dry. The marouflage method has also been used for millennia.

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    Murals today are painted in a variety of ways, using oil or water-based media.

The styles can vary from abstract to trompe-l'œil (a French term for "fool" or "trick the eye"). Initiated by the works of mural artists like Graham Rust or Rainer Maria Latzke in the 1980s, trompe-l'oeil painting has experienced a renaissance in private and public buildings in Europe. Today, the beauty of a wall mural has become much more widely available with a technique whereby a painting or photographic image is transferred to poster paper or canvas which is then pasted to a wall surface (see wallpaper, Frescography) to give the effect of either a hand-painted mural or realistic scene.

Historical mural techniques

In the history of mural several methods have been used:

    A fresco painting, from the Italian word affresco which derives from the adjective fresco ("fresh"), describes a method in which the paint is applied on plaster on walls or ceilings. The buon fresco technique consists of painting in pigment mixed with water on a thin layer of wet, fresh, lime mortar or plaster. The pigment is then absorbed by the wet plaster; after a number of hours, the plaster dries and reacts with the air: it is this chemical reaction which fixes the pigment particles in the plaster. After this the painting stays for a long time up to centuries in fresh and brilliant colors.

    Fresco-secco painting is done on dry plaster (secco is "dry" in Italian). The pigments thus require a binding medium, such as egg (tempera), glue or oil to attach the pigment to the wall.

    Mezzo-fresco is painted on nearly-dry plaster, and was defined by the sixteenth-century author Ignazio Pozzo as "firm enough not to take a thumb-print" so that the pigment only penetrates slightly into the plaster. By the end of the sixteenth century this had largely displaced the buon fresco method, and was used by painters such as Gianbattista Tiepolo or Michelangelo. This technique had, in reduced form, the advantages of a secco work.

 

Modern mural techniques

    Different muralists tend to become experts in their preferred medium and application, whether that be oil paints, emulsion or acrylic paints applied by brush, roller or airbrush/aerosols. Clients will often ask for a particular style and the artist may adjust to the appropriate technique. A consultation usually leads to a detailed design and layout of the proposed mural with a price quote that the client approves before the muralist starts on the work. The area to be painted can be gridded to match the design allowing the image to be scaled accurately step by step. In some cases the design is projected straight onto the wall and traced with pencil before painting begins. Some muralists will paint directly without any prior sketching, preferring the spontaneous technique.

    Once completed the mural can be given coats of varnish or protective acrylic glaze to protect the work from UV rays and surface damage.CAM designed Frescography by Rainer Maria Latzke, digitally printed on canvasAs an alternative to a hand-painted or airbrushed mural, digitally printed murals can also be applied to surfaces. Already existing murals can be photographed and then be reproduced in near-to-original quality.

    The disadvantages of pre-fabricated murals and decals are that they are often mass-produced and lack the allure and exclusivity of an original artwork. They are often not fitted to the individual wall sizes of the client and their personal ideas or wishes can not be added to the mural as it progresses. The Frescography technique, a digital manufacturing method (CAM) invented by Rainer Maria Latzke addresses some of the personalisation and size restrictions.

 

Significance of murals

    Murals are important in that they bring art into the public sphere. Due to the size, cost, and work involved in creating a mural, muralists must often be commissioned by a sponsor. Often it is the local government or a business, but many murals have been paid for with grants of patronage. For artists, their work gets a wide audience who otherwise might not set foot in an art gallery. A city benefits by the beauty of a work of art.
    Murals can have a dramatic impact whether consciously or subconsciously on the attitudes of passers by, when they are added to areas where people live and work. It can also be argued that the presence of large, public murals can add aesthetic improvement to the daily lives of residents or that of employees at a corporate venue.

Murals in contemporary interior design

    Many people like to express their individuality by commissioning an artist to paint a mural in their home, this is not an activity exclusively for owners of large houses. A mural artist is only limited by the fee and therefore the time spent on the painting; dictating the level of detail; a simple mural can be added to the smallest of walls.

    Private commissions can be for dining rooms, bathrooms, living rooms or, as is often the case- children's bedrooms. A child's room can be transformed into the 'fantasy world' of a forest or racing track, encouraging imaginative play and an awareness of art. The current trend for feature walls has increased commissions for muralists in the UK. A large hand-painted mural can be designed on a specific theme, incorporate personal images and elements and may be altered during the course of painting it. The personal interaction between client and muralist is often a unique experience for an individual not usually involved in the arts. Public commissions of murals in schools, hospitals and retirement homes can achieve a pleasing and welcoming atmosphere in these caring institutions.

    In the 1980s, illusionary wall painting experienced a renaissance in private homes. The reason for this revival in interior design could, in some cases be attributed to the reduction in living space for the individual. Faux architectural features as well as natural scenery and views can have the effect of 'opening out' the walls. Densely built up areas of housing may also contribute to people's feelings of being cut off from nature in its free form. A mural commission of this sort may be an attempt by some people to re-establish a balance with nature.

 

BYZANTINE MURAL PAINTING

Short history and evolution

    As a muralist painter I realy found it necesary to present, to hoom is interested, a short history of Byzantine mural painting and of Iconography in general. Not only because it is strongly related to my work but because it was the foundation of everithig that I do, because  on those hudge scafolds on those hudge church walls and ceilings is where I became a muralist artis. With strong scents of linseed oil, vinegar an paint I had an amazing experience wich changed my life without even knowing. Even thought the following texts have a strong religious influence, my poitnt of view about Bizantin mural painting and general Iconography its purely artistic.

   The splendour of Byzantine art was always in the mind of early medieval Western artists and patrons, and many of the most important movements in the period were conscious attempts to produce art fit to stand next to both classical Roman and contemporary Byzantine art.

Icon

    An icon (from Greek εἰκών eikōn "image") is generally a flat panel painting depicting Jesus Christ, Mary, saints and/or angels, which is venerated among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and in certain Eastern Catholic Churches.

 

   Icons may also be cast in metal, carved in stone, embroidered on cloth, painted on wood, done in mosaic or fresco work, printed on paper or metal, etc. Icons are often illuminated with a candle or jar of oil with a wick.  Although common in translated works from Greek or Russian, in English iconography does not mean icon painting, and "iconographer"  does  not  mean an  artist of icons, which are

Mural - Birth of Christ
Mural - Birth of Christ

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Byzantine Church Altar
Byzantine Church Altar

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painted or carved, not "written", as they are in those languages. Comparable images from Western Christianity are generally not described as "icons", although "iconic" may be used to describe a static style of devotional image.

Emergence of the Icon

   The earliest written records of Christian images treated like icons in a pagan or Gnostic context are offered by the 4th-century Christian Aelius Lampridius in the Life of Alexander Severus (xxix) that was part of the Augustan History. According to Lampridius, the emperor Alexander Severus (222–235), who was not a Christian, had kept a domestic chapel for the veneration of images of deified emperors, of portraits of his ancestors, and of Christ, Apollonius, Orpheus and Abraham. Irenaeus. At least some of the hierarchy of the church was still strictly opposed to icons in the early 4th century. At the Spanish Synod of Elvira (c. 305) bishops concluded, "Pictures are not to be placed in churches, so that they do not become objects of worship and adoration". Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis, wrote his letter 51 to John, Bishop of Jerusalem in which he recounted how he tore down an image in a church and admonished the other bishop that such images are "opposed . . . to our religion".

   

    After Christianity was legalized by the emperor Constantine I within the Roman Empire in 313, huge numbers of pagans became converts. This created the necessity for the transfer of allegiance and practice from the old gods and heroes to the new religion, and for the gradual adaptation of the old system of image making and veneration to a Christian context, in the process of Christianization.

    When Constantine converted to Christianity the majority of his subjects were still pagans and the Roman Imperial cult of the divinity of the emperor, expressed through the traditional burning of candles and the offering of incense to the emperor’s image, was tolerated for a period because it would have been politically dangerous to attempt to suppress it. Indeed, in the 5th century the portrait of the reigning emperor was still honoured this way in the courts of justice and municipal buildings of the empire and in 425 Philostorgius, an Arian Christian, charged the Orthodox Christians in Constantinople with idolatry because they still honored the image of the emperor Constantine the Great, the founder of the city, in this way.

    After adoption of Christianity as the only permissible Roman state religion under Theodosius I, Christian art began to change not only in quality and sophistication, but also in nature. This was in no small part due to Christians being free for the first time to express their faith openly without persecution from the state, in addition to the faith spreading to the non-poor segments of society. Paintings of martyrs and their feats began to appear, and early writers commented on their lifelike effect, one of the elements a few Christian writers criticized in pagan art — the ability to imitate life. The writers mostly criticized pagan works of art for pointing to false gods, thus encouraging idolatry. Statues in the round were avoided as being too close to the principal artistic focus of pagan cult practices, as they have continued to be (with some small-scale exceptions) throughout the history of Eastern Christianity.

    During this period the church began to discourage all non-religious human images - the Emperor and donor figures counting as religious. This became largely effective, so that most of the population would only ever see religious images and those of the ruling class. The word icon referred to any and all images, not just religious ones, but there was barely a need for a separate word for these.

Iconoclast period

    There was a continuing opposition to images and their misuse within Christianity from very early times. "Whenever images threatened to gain undue influence within the church, theologians have sought to strip them of their power".[19] Further,"there is no century between the fourth and the eighth in which there is not some evidence of opposition to images even within the Church".[20] Nonetheless, popular favor for icons guaranteed their continued existence, while no systematic apologia for or against icons, or doctrinal authorization or condemnation of icons yet existed.

   

    The Iconoclastic Period began when images were banned by Emperor Leo III the Isaurian sometime between 726 and 730. Image veneration was later reinstated by the Empress Regent Irene, under whom another council was held reversing the decisions of the previous iconoclast council and taking its title as Seventh Ecumenical Council. The council anathemized all who hold to iconoclasm, i.e. those who held that veneration of images constitutes idolatry. Then the ban was enforced again by Leo V in 815. And finally icon veneration was decisively restored by Empress Regent Theodora.

   

    From then on all Byzantine coins had a religious image or symbol on the reverse, usually an image of Christ for larger denominations, with the head of the Emperor on the obverse, reinforcing the bond of the state and the divine order.

Symbolism

   In the icons of Eastern Orthodoxy, and of the Early Medieval West, very little room is made for artistic license. Almost everything within the image has a symbolic aspect. Christ, the saints, and the angels all have halos. Angels (and often John the Baptist) have wings because they are messengers. Figures have consistent facial appearances, hold attributes personal to them, and use a few conventional poses.

    Colour plays an important role as well. Gold represents the radiance of Heaven; red, divine life. Blue is the color of human life, white is the Uncreated Light of God, only used for resurrection and transfiguration of Christ. If you look at icons of Jesus and Mary: Jesus wears red undergarment with a blue outer garment (God become Human) and Mary wears a blue undergarment with a red overgarment (human was granted gifts by God), thus the doctrine of deification is conveyed by icons. Letters are symbols too. Most icons incorporate some calligraphic text naming the person or event depicted. Even this is often presented in a stylized manner.

Eastern Orthodox teaching

    The Eastern Orthodox view of the origin of icons is generally quite different from that of most secular scholars and from some in contemporary Roman Catholic circles. Eastern Orthodoxy  teaches that "a clear understanding of the importance of Icons" was part of the church from its very beginning, and has never changed, although explanations of their importance may have developed over time. This is because icon painting is rooted in the theology of the Incarnation which didn't change, though its subsequent clarification within the Church occurred over the period of the first seven Ecumenical Councils. Also, icons served as tools of edification for the illiterate faithful during most of the history of Christendom.
 

 

GLOSSARY

Short explanations and definitions of some artistique terms  used in this portfolio for your understanding.

 

   A mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. A distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture.

 

   Some wall paintings are painted on large canvases, which are then attached to the wall. Whether these works can be accurately called "murals" is a subject of some controversy in the art world, but the technique has been in common use since the late 19th century.

 

Trompe L'oeil

   Trompe-l'œil (French for "deceive the eye") is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. Forced perspective is a comparable illusion in architecture.
   Though the phrase, which can also be spelled without the hyphen and ligature in English as trompe l'oeil, originates in the Baroque period, when it refers to perspectival illusionism, trompe-l'œil dates much further back. It was (and is) often employed in murals. Instances from Greek and Roman times are known, for instance in Pompeii. A typical trompe-l'œil mural might depict a window, door, or hallway, intended to suggest a larger room.

 

Fresco

   Fresco is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly-laid, or wet lime plaster. Water is used as the vehicle for the pigment to merge with the plaster, and with the setting of the plaster, the painting becomes an integral part of the wall. 

   The word fresco is derived from the Italian adjective fresco meaning "fresh", and may thus be contrasted with fresco-secco or secco mural painting techniques, which are applied to dried plaster, to supplement painting in fresco. The fresco technique has been employed since antiquity and is closely associated with Italian Renaissance painting.

 

Fresco-Secco or A Secco

   Fresco-secco (or a secco or fresco finto) is a fresco painting technique in which pigments ground in water are tempered using egg yolk or whole egg mixed with water which are applied to plaster that has been moistened (using this temper) to simulate fresh plaster.

    No white is used (as in watercolour painting). In true fresco (buon fresco), the plaster is still fresh and has not dried when the watercolors are introduced.

    It is also common to use white to lighten colours in fresco.Because the pigments do not become part of the wall, as in buon fresco, fresco-secco paintings are less durable.

   The colors may flake off the painting as time goes by, but this technique has the advantages of a longer working time and retouchability. In Italy, fresco technique was reintroduced around 1300 and led to an increase in the general quality of mural painting. This technological change coincided with the realistic turn in Western art and the changing liturgical use of murals.

 

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