Leonardo Da Vinci makes his way to the top of my painting inspirations. I think most know his name and that he painted the Mona Lisa, but he’s a lot more than just that painting. The Mona Lisa isn’t my favourite of his, although it’s AMAZING, to be sure. I first learned about Da Vinci in my art history class in my first year of university. That one class by far, has been the best of my university career. The prof was eccentric and hilarious and the information was SO interesting. Never had I been so interested in history until then. I could understand everything in terms of art – the pieces we explored were mythical as well as narrative. They documented celebrations, wars, kingdoms, even supply and demand (if you think of Egyptian hieroglyphics used to record tables of food storage) I even had a nickname in that class – Miss Transcept (which will make its way into another post 🙂 )
Anyways, Da Vinci loved to paint using the “golden Mean” – a mathematical formula to help find the most “aesthetic” composition in an artwork, although it wasn’t used specifically for art; it just somehow found its way there too. There is a golden rectangle as well as a golden triangle. From what I’ve found, the triangle was “golden” if the two smaller sides were equal in length, and the hypotenuse was double the length. The rectangle was similar – the two shorter sides were equal, and the longer sides were double the shorter sides.
This is my favourite painting of all time: The Virgin and Child with St. Anne. It was painted around 1503-1506, and is currently at the Louvre in Paris, France. I got to see it on my trip to Europe a couple of years ago, and was in love at first sight. It is quite large. I love the detail, in particular the emotion on Mary’s face as she looks at the baby. Apparently the lamb is symbolic of Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity. Da Vinci uses “chiaroscuro (the use of light and dark to create effects of relief and modelling); sfumato (literally, “vanished in smoke”, a technique of defining form and shape by gradations of light and dark); and aerial perspective (a method of indicating distance by tone and color contrast).” (taken from here – looks like a great art history review blog! I will definitely be checking this site out more often)
I’ll show you the progress on my current painting Thursday, when hopefully it will be finished. I hope you enjoyed reading about an art master – it felt good to do a tiny bit of research, even though it was a rough day.