Tag Archives: Painting

Guest Post: “The Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci ~from The Joy of Museums


Thank you to The Joy of Museums for today’s guest post.

Painting of Mona Lisa

“The Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is a portrait which he started in Florence around 1503. It is thought to be of Lisa Gherardini, wife of a Florentine cloth merchant. Leonardo took this painting with him to France when he joined the court of the French King, and after his death, the picture entered King François I’s collection. The Mona Lisa became part of The Louvre collection in 1797 and is considered to be one of the world’s best-known paintings, the most written about and the most parodied works of art in the world.

In 1911, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa painting was stolen from the Louvre, and the Louvre closed for an entire week during the investigations.  The theft created a media sensation and rewards were offered. Pablo Picasso was on the original list of suspects questioned and jailed for the robbery, but he was later released. After many false leads and claims, the Mona Lisa thief was caught when he attempted to sell it to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It was returned to the Louvre in 1914 and the thief, a Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia only served six months in prison for the crime.  Peruggia was hailed for his patriotism in Italy as he claimed he wanted to return the Mona Lisa to the country that gave birth to the Mona Lisa and Leonardo. Perugia argued, that the Mona Lisa had been stolen from Florence by Napoleon and that he deserved a reward for doing his patriotic duty and returning it to its real home in Italy.

Monalisa uffizi 1913

The Mona Lisa is on display in the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence (Italy), just before it was returned to the Louvre.

Before the 1911 theft, the Mona Lisa was not widely known outside the art world. The nearly two-year hunt across multiple continents helped to publicise the Mona Lisa to the public imagination. In 1956, the painting was damaged when a vandal threw acid at it, which provided more publicity and notoriety. That same year, a rock was thrown at the canvas which left some minor damage.

Bulletproof glass was then used to protect the Mona Lisa. Which was fortunate when in 1974, a woman, upset by the museum’s policy for disabled people, sprayed red paint at the Mona Lisa. More recently in 2009, a Russian woman, upset for being denied French citizenship, threw a ceramic teacup at the famous painting.

The painting has been exhibited in New York City, Washington, D.C, Tokyo and Moscow with great success. Before the US tour, in 1962 the picture was assessed for insurance at $100 million. In today’s terms that translates to approximately $800m, considered to be the most valued painting in the world.

Leonardo da Vinci - Mona Lisa (detail) - WGA12713

In art terms, the Mona Lisa is the earliest Italian portrait to focus firmly on the sitter in a half-length portrait and set the standard for future artists. Depicting the subject in front of an imaginary landscape, Leonardo was one of the first painters to use perspective in this way. Da Vinci pioneered a shadowing technique at the corners of her lips and the corners of her eyes which give her a remarkably lifelike appearance and look of amusement.

An unexpected historical copy of the Mona Lisa was discovered in 2012 at as part of the Prado collection in Madrid. When the painting was cleaned, scientific analysis revealed that the copy was probably painted by another artist, possibly an apprentice of Leonardo da Vinci, who sat beside Leonardo and copied his work, brush-stroke by brush-stroke. The Prado painting suggests what the Mona Lisa might look like if layers of yellowed varnish could be removed from the original. The face, especially the smile, does look slightly different but it is a close copy in many other respects and dates to a similar time. The painting cannot be considered as a workshop copy due to its careful and thorough execution, as well as its use of materials such as lapis lazuli or red lacquer, which were used by Leonardo.

The Joconde by a student of Leonardo da Vinci

A copy of the Mona Lisa that was discovered in 2012 at as part of the Prado collection, in Madrid.

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, scientist and an engineer who was already famous in his lifetime and is today considered a genius. Leonardo’s masterpiece had considerable influence during his lifetime and continued to influence and attract lovers of history and art in our life.

Mona Lisa:

  • Title:           Mona Lisa
  • Français:    La Joconde, La Gioconda
  • Artist:         Leonardo da Vinci
  • Created:     1503
  • Periods:      High Renaissance
  • Subject:      Not certain, possibly Lisa Gherardini
  • Media:        Oil paint on poplar wood
  • Dimensions: 77 cm x 53 cm
  • Museum:    The Louvre (since 1797)

Leonardo da Vinci:

  • Name:               Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci
  • Born:                 1452 – Vinci, Republic of Florence (present-day Italy)
  • Died:                  1519 (aged 67) – Amboise, Kingdom of France
  • Movement:      High Renaissance
  • Masterpieces:


“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” Leonardo da Vinci


Photo Credit 1) By Sambodhi Sakhare (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By Apprentice of Leonardo da Vinci. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 3) See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 4) Robert L. Knudsen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 5) Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons ; Museo del Prado [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Creative Juice #82

Creative Juice #82

Good stuff to read this weekend. Inspire yourself!

Creative Juice # 79

Creative Juice # 79

Recharge your creative battery by reading these dozen articles about pretty and interesting things.

Video of the Week #134: The Artistic Side of Jim Carrey

Video of the Week #134: The Artistic Side of Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey: I Needed Color from JC on Vimeo.

Guest Post: To Grandmother’s House I Go

Guest Post: To Grandmother’s House I Go

Thanks to Donna for this wonderful profile of artistic painter Nick Patten.


Nick Patten 1 Nick Patten

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Creative Juice #71

Creative Juice #71

Your weekend dose of inspiration:

  1. A different kind of travel photos.
  2. Amazing photographs of spiders.
  3. Surreal murals.
  4. 25 free quilt patterns.
  5. How and why to read daily.
  6. Artist workspace.
  7. An orthodontist who’s also a very successful cartoonist.
  8. What to read next?
  9. Symbolism in a Renaissance painting.
  10. Unbelievably beautiful photographs submitted to National Geographic contest.
  11. Lovely Christmas ornaments to make by hand. Gift idea!
  12. A federal program to give work to artists? What a revolutionary idea!


Creativie Juice #68

Creativie Juice #68

A dozen inspiring articles to spark your creativity:

  1. Beautiful Jersey City and Paterson, New Jersey.
  2. Two of my favorite things: quilts and limericks.
  3. Art dolls.
  4. Can creativity be taught?
  5. These new books sound great. Hollywood thought so, too.
  6. This article about Picasso summarizes: “Not only has massive chunks of our culture been created by specific men who abuse women but also that so-called ‘Western culture’ in its entirety has been marked and in many ways defined by systemic and institutionalized misogyny that has chewed up women for art and discarded them en masse.” Some things never change. Or can they?
  7. Do you like potato chips that look like faces, and clouds that look like other objects? Then this quick video will make you smile.
  8. How to draw a fox.
  9. Some beautiful tangles.
  10. What the blank spaces in a painting convey.
  11. Inexpensive copies of art masterpieces you’ll use every day.
  12. Bonsai!

Guest Post: Fall Swirls by Gail Bartel

Guest Post: Fall Swirls by Gail Bartel

A great big thank you to artist and instructor Gail Bartel for this fabulous painting tutorial. Check out more of her artwork on her blog, that artist woman.


The trees are a swirl of brightly coloured leaves, or at least they were until we had some really strong winds and they all blew away.

Here is a great little fall project.




– nice paper for painting on

– green masking tape (painter’s tape) optional
– acrylic or liquid tempera paints
– pencil or black pencil crayon
– oil pastels





Tape paper onto art board using masking tape.  This will give us a nice white border.


Using white and blue paint your background.  You want a white oval off centre and then light blue and darker blue.  Have the kids paint in a circular motion.

Set aside to dry.

This one was with acrylic.





I did this one with disk tempera to compare.




Starting with brown, paint dashes around our oval.4

With brown we stay away from the white oval.





We then add orange covering some of our brown dashes and work a little closer into the oval.



After orange we add yellow.




As we get into the centre with the yellow add a little white paint to mix a really light yellow.

Set aside to dry.






When the paint is dry remove the tape.


With a pencil or black pencil crayon draw your tree trunk.  You want to come from the corner closest to the centre of your swirl.

You want it to look like you are looking up into the tree.





Using black oil pastel go over your tree trunk lines and fill in.

Now you could just leave it at this point but oil pastel looks better if you blend it a bit.




In my studio I would just use a paper tortillion but at school we don’t have them around so the kids use a q-tip.

If my lines are quite fine I will take the q-tip and break and use the little broken end to blend my fine branches.




Here is a comparison of acrylic vs liquid tempera.


The acrylic covers better (more opaque) so your lights are brighter.  For the liquid tempera I added some dashes in pencil crayon in orange, yellow, and light yellow to help with this after the paint was dry.





Video of the Week #122: Childhood Home

Video of the Week #122: Childhood Home

Creative Juice #65

Creative Juice #65

Twelve sips of creative juiciness to inspire artistic vision.

  1. Total cuteness.
  2. Why bloggers blog.
  3. It’s not too early to start some Christmas quilting projects.
  4. In honor of the coming 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, here are Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. I confess I haven’t read them yet, but I’ve printed them out with every intention of studying them.
  5. Awesome prize-winning photographs from the National Geographic contest.
  6. Epic ink landscapes.
  7. For the writers: best books about writing. I only know half of these—I’ve got some reading to do!J
  8. A cute and easy little weaving project for kids of all ages.
  9. I’d love to see a resurgence of interest in embroidery. Here’s what you need to get started.
  10. There are still a few days left to enter this photography contest. Check out your competitors.
  11. Homage to the doily.
  12. It’s almost time for the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.