Monday, March 22, 2010

Leonardo da Vinci

This painting, Young Girl with Ermine, and the most famous painting ever, the Mona Lisa, are two of only ten paintings that Leonardo da Vinci was known to have finished. I took Art History in college but I don’t recall learning that, along with so much more I found in the 100 pages of Who Was Leonardo da Vinci? This book is an artist’s delight with it’s tales of making brushes, painting techniques, and determining subject matter.

Leonardo was born out of wedlock to a well-to-do young man and a peasant girl, neither of which cared to raise him. It’s hard to believe that someone from these awkward and lonely beginnings wound up immortalizing himself through his creative mind and outstanding abilities. To put the timing of his life into perspective, he was finishing his masterpiece The Last Supper the same year Christopher Columbus was making his third voyage to the New World. Besides having a gift for capturing a mood with a paintbrush he was also an adept inventor, musician, engineer and scientist. The book details many of his clever ideas, loosely replicating his work in a casual pen and ink style that made me long to see the real thing. I do feel this book is a great children’s introduction to this 15th century genius.

Also included are sidebars on the making of parchment and paper, art apprenticeships, the Renaissance, astronomy, Raphael, Michelangelo, and drawing techniques.

Ages 9-12

Activity: Can you imagine if the Mona Lisa was painted today? What would she be wearing? What would be in the background? Print out this Mona Lisa template and with markers, create your own modern day masterpiece.

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