The Art and Nature of Fresco Painting

by Sr. Lucia Wiley, CHS

Photo of Sr. Lucia painting her crucifix fresco, 1966
Sr. Lucia working on her crucifix fresco, 1966

Fresco Painting

Fresco is the most beautiful and enduring of all the plastic arts. Part of the wonder of this enduring form of art is that at its completion the beauty of the work has just begun to radiate. Over the years while the fresco feeds the hearts and souls of those fortunate enough to abide under its splendor, the chemical process of carbonization continues within the wall, continually increasing the visual unity and luminosity of the work.


I believe fresco is the most universal, simplest, the most direct, the most natural expression of the artist. Yet of all forms of painting, it demands the most of the artist. It calls from the painter the fullest giving of herself. It draws on every inch of her physical and mental and spiritual being, as she contemplates the same idea, the same motif, day after day, month after month, and then creates the fresco out of every ounce of herself. In addition to this, throughout the day the capacity of the plaster to assimilate color varies--it is a living changing thing. The painter must be sensitive to this constantly changing appetite and feed it accordingly. In my own studio practice, I like to call this ability--or gift--the "mothering principle." Painting a fresco uses this gift like no other artistic process.   -Lucia Wiley

This website contains the fresco technique and philosophy of Sr. Lucia Wiley (1902-1998), a WPA muralist and painter. Included are photographs of her work, a biography and links to related websites.

Fresco Painting: Introduction

Artist Biography  Women Muralists  Site Map

Who Owns a Work of Art?

the Fresco List
A mailing list for fresco technique and mural painting

Please Visit:
A Life in Art and Spirituality
Sr. Lucia's Life and Art in Images, Words and Sounds


This website has been funded by a grant from the
Thanks Be to Grandmother Winifred Foundation

Website design by Joe Beine
Content edited by Karen Ellis
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Since 1 June 1999