creative research gallery and drawing center
a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization



Painting in Stone:
The Technique of Buon Fresco

Instructed by Visiting Artist, Michael Nichols


June 8 – June 12, 2022

Wednesday, June 8: 2-7pm
Thursday, June 9: 2-7pm
Friday June 10: 2-7pm
Saturday, June 11: 10am-4pm
Sunday, June 12: 10am-4pm

Registration Deadlines:

Standard-Registration ($950): register by May 13, 2022
Late-Registration ($1000): register by May 20, 2022



This workshop explores the ancient technique of buon fresco painting, the process made famous by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, and Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry mural. Working in fresco requires an artist to apply pigment to freshly laid plaster. As the work dries, the pigment and plaster become integrated as one, resulting in a permanent surface that is essentially colored stone.

This class will cover the following buon fresco topics:

  • Supports, tools, plaster formulas and applications
  • Pigments
  • Sinopias, cartoons, and transfer methods
  • Painting process: underpainting to a fully-realized fresco painting
  • Joining multi-day fresco sections / “giornate”


Course schedule

Wednesday, June 8th, 2-7pm
Background Information; Discussion of Process; Materials Preparations, Prepare 1st Cartoon 

Thursday, June 9th, 2-7pm
Discussion of Pigments, Sinopia, and Cartoons; Plaster and Paint Small Fresco (#1)

Friday, June 10th, 2-7pm
Preparations continued, Plaster and Paint Small Fresco Study (#2)  

Saturday, June 11th, 10am-4pm
Plaster and paint first section of 2-Day Fresco / Giornata #1  

Sunday, June 12th, 10am-4pm
Discuss joining sections; Plaster and Paint second section of 2-Day Fresco/Giornata #2 


$900 by the early-registration deadline
$950 for the standard registration deadline
$1000 for the late-registration-/final deadline

Minimum Enrollment: 6
Maximum Enrollment: 15



Materials list

All Materials for this five-day workshop will be provided as part of the registration fees.

These provided materials will include:
• All necessary dry materials (masonry sand, lime plaster, pigments, etc.)
• All necessary supports
• All necessary tools (trowels, brushes, etc.)
• Various Personal Protective Equipment


Level of Study
This class is suggested for artists of all skill levels, high school and up. Basic familiarity with painting would be helpful but is not required.



Questions? Please contact the Drawing Center Coordinator, Adam Mysock at with any questions about this list and/or course.


This special workshop will be among the first offered at our new home (M1) at 3464 Central Parkway. The facility will enable the expansive and hands-on work and dynamic processes supporting such a technical workshop as this one. More information about our new home can be read in this announcement (linked here). More information will be shared before the start of the workshop. (Map to M1).

Courses will be active at the new facility by June. Until then, offerings continue at our Walnut Hills location.



For those traveling to Cincinnati to attend this special workshop, there are many exciting or practical options for accommodations. For a special stay within a mile of Manifest's new facility, we would recommend checking with The Clifton House Bed & Breakfast ( or The Gaslight Bed & Breakfast ( Alternatively, the 21c Museum Hotel is in the heart of downtown just four miles from our location (link).



Map to Manifest's Walnut Hills Studios   |   Studio Calendar   |   Darkroom Calendar


Michael Nichols

Michael Nichols working on fresco mural. (Image courtesy Cheryl Beckley, WKYU PBS.)


Workshop process


Workshop process




About the instructor:

Michael Nichols earned an MFA at Fontbonne University where he studied traditional painting and drawing techniques. As a Professor of Art, Nichols teaches drawing, painting, and foundations courses at Western Kentucky University. For more than a decade, he has introduced his students to the ancient technique of fresco painting and led workshops on the subject at universities throughout the region and at institutions such as Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.

Nichols’ own work explores contemporary applications of buon fresco painting as well as metalpoint drawing. He exhibits throughout the United States and has had work included in numerous publications, including several Manifest International Painting Annuals as well as Silverpoint and Metalpoint Drawing: A Complete Guide to the Medium, by Routledge Press. In 2018, Nichols received a Professional Artist Development Grant from the Great Meadows Foundation to study frescoes in Padua, Italy. He was awarded a 2010 Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council and has received several WKU faculty grants, Buon Fresco Technique, Painted in Stone, Refresh, and Influences, Conversations about fresco in Italy, in support of his research on the technique of buon fresco painting.

Nichols will be presenting a solo exhibition of his paintings at Manifest Gallery in July of 2022.






  Season Funder:

Manifest's 18th season is funded in part by a grant from the Josephine S. Russell Charitable Trust, PNC Bank, Trustee. This season's programming is also supported by the generosity of tens of thousands of contributors to the ArtsWave Community Campaign, by a sustainability grant from the Ohio Arts Council, and through the generous direct contributions of individual supporters and private foundations who care deeply about the visual arts.

gallery hours:

tues-fri 12-7pm, sat noon-5pm
(or by appointment)
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closed Sun and Mon

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2727 woodburn avenue
cincinnati, ohio 45206

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656 E. McMillan St.
cincinnati, ohio 45206



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