Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Leonardo da Vinci - A Man of Many Talents

The First Renaissance Man

The art and architecture of Italy is world famous.  Who has never seen the Mona Lisa, or the Leaning Tower of Pisa? There have been many artists, during many periods of art, that have come from Italy, but one man stands alone - Leonardo da Vinci.

 Born in 1452, in Vinci, Italy (hence his name - Leonardo of "Vinci"), he was a just a boy of 15 when he was apprenticed to a painter in Florence.  His talents quickly became apparent and he soon created his own style of painting using very subtle hues and shadows.  But painting was just one of his talents, he was also a mathematician, scientist, anatomist, sculptor, musician, writer, engineer, and inventor!! Some of his inventions were flying machines, bicycles, and weapons that no one believed could actually ever exist.  Many of his inventions were never built and, in fact, he was so easily distracted by his many different interests that he had trouble completing many of his projects.  His curiousity and intellect led him to discover many talents and become the example of what is known as a "renaissance man" - someone who is good at many different things. 

We took a look at one of his most famous paintings - the Mona Lisa.
Started in 1502, the painting was commissioned by Francesco del Giocondo, who wanted a portrait of his wife Lisa to celebrate the birth of their third child.  The word "Mona" was used in those times as a short form of Madonna, or my lady.  Leonardo da Vinci never actually gave the painting to the Giocondos and kept fiddling with it for the rest of his life.  Ours was done in about 30 minutes but, as you can tell, we left out a bit of the wonderful detail and up to 30 layers of paint that make the original so special. 

Art Project: Mona Lisa (kinda)

For the project you will need:

  • paints (I highly recommend washable)
  • canvas or white cardboard or paper
  • variety of brushes
  • artist pallette or plate to mix colors
  • picture of the Mona Lisa (I got a sample set of different paintings a few years ago - one of those free gifts and then you join the club to get more.  I never joined but if you are interested go to www.thehistoryexplorer.com)
We studied the picture for awhile and decided the important parts were the lady, especially the eyes and hands, and the background.  My daughter drew it first in pencil and then painted it- mixing her own colors and coming up with her own ideas.  I think she did a great job and SHE thinks she can sell her painting for a lot of money - gosh I sure hope so!!
A Masterpiece!!!