Using Acrylics to Paint 'al Fresco' on Paper
Complied and written by ©Claes G Lindblad on December 22, 1996.

Here, I have used pure French Ultramarine (in several degrees of dilution) for the leaf; and several dilutions of Ochre with a touch of wine black for the low-lights.

Note: the support in this case is nothing but paper! It's the sand admixed with an acrylic gesso which gives the interesting structure.

This leaf was my first experiment using this method. It's appropriately entitled "Il Fresco Acrilico 1" and was made in July 1995.

    You will need:

  • White acrylic gesso.
  • A little sand.
  • A fluid, matt acrylic medium (which is our binder).
  • Some pure pigments...
  • ...and lots of water.


  1. Sketch a design with a brush, filled with diluted colour (a faint line is all you need).
  2. Lay a base coat of white acrylic gesso, mixed with sand. This will produce a texture which looks very much like mediaeval al frescos.
  3. Take a little pure pigment, grind it in an acrylic medium and add *lots* of water.
  4. Paint it onto the sand/gesso base.
  5. When one layer is dry, add new thin layers, to build up the intensity called for.

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