Ask: How many in here are left handed? Did anyone ever try to get you to change to a right-handed person? What kinds of things were not made for left-handed people? Today we'll learn about a very famous man who was left-handed.
Explain that Leonardo Da Vinci was left-handed. Back when he was alive, everyone thought it was bad to be left-handed. In fact, the Italian word for "left" is "sinistra" which also means sinister or disaster. Instead of trying to change to using his right hand, he not only wrote and drew with his left hand, he wrote backwards from right to left.
The only way to read what Leonardo wrote is with a mirror!
To demonstrate why Leonardo did this, I need all the left-handed people in the class to come up to the board. As you know, the way we're all taught to write cursive is with a slant to the right. Even if you haven't been taught to write in cursive yet, it isn't as easy to write from left to right with your left hand. Write "Leonardo Da vinci" on the board in cursive. (or print, if they are 1st and 2nd graders- spell Leonardo's name on the board, so they can write it correctly) It was hard, wasn't it? Now write his name backwards and from right to left. That was hard too, because you're not used to it. But, did it feel better? Leonardo didn't care what others said and did what he thought was easier. Can you think of something that others tease you about that you can turn into something good?
Explain that Dr. Betty Edwards is famous for tests on how people learn to draw. She found out that some people are able to teach themselves how to draw without any help from anybody. Leonardo Da vinci was one of these people. So was Vincent Van Gogh, the next artist we will study. The first lesson she teaches is writing your name different ways. Some think that Leonardo became a better artist by writing backwards.
Pass out the xeroxes of different signatures. Ask: What do you think the person is like who wrote the first signature? The second? The third? The fourth? As you can see, even a signature can tell us things that aren't written. They are a piece of art too, aren't they?
Now sign your name at the top of your blank sheet of paper the way you usually do. Now write it three different ways. Now write it backwards with your left hand just like Leonardo Da vinci Pretend you are someone else looking at your signature. What would someone say about the person who wrote it? Think about how you thought differently when you signed your name different ways. Because your name didn't change, what were you feeling? You were feeling your drawn lines instead of just writing them, weren't you? You thought about the speed of the line, the space of the marks and the feel in the muscles in your hand. Did it feel weird to you to write like Leonardo? A signature is art and different for everyone.
Leonardo Da vinci Creative Movement
Turn the 9"X12" (23 x 30.5 cm) White Drawing Paper over from the previous activity
Tape of different forms of music from rap to classical.
Tell students that Leonardo said that if an artist wishes to see beauty, they can make it. If they want to make something scary or ugly, they are the king. If they want to make deserts, cool places in hot weather, high mountains and the sea, they are the king. If the artist wants to see high mountains from low places or low places from high mountains, all they have to do is imagine it first in their mind, then do it with their hands.*
Drawing begins with line. Look at your xeroxes and see how line shows different kinds of dances. Close your eyes and picture in your mind how each dance (*History of Italian Renaissance Art, by Frederick Hart, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.) might look. Can you hear the music in your imagination? Try to see how the line creates the music.
Stand up and close your eyes. Listen to the music and move your body the way you think would fit to the music. Feel the music and imagine what movement you would do that fits to the music. Feel the beat, and think of what feelings you have when you listen to the songs. What kind of lines would you make to this music? The teacher now plays the tape of songs.
Now have them sit at their seat and draw a person with lines that fit one of the songs on the tape you heard.
Cool-down - Verbal Activity
Explain that one of the ways that Leonardo taught himself to draw was to draw pictures of lizards and bugs that he saw around his house when he was a kid. He didn't just draw them, he watched how they moved on the ground. He studied them. Some say that when Leonardo was a boy, he painted a picture of a creature that had parts of bugs and lizards put together. He left it by a lamp at night and when his father came in the room, he screamed because the light from the lamp made the creature glow and look real.
Have a student who has seen a lizard come up (the rest of the class is seated) and demonstrate the movement of a lizard. It has jerky movements when it runs, doesn't it? It moves very slow when it isn't in danger, doesn't it? Sometimes a lizard just freezes, doesn't it?
Say, "Now everyone stand and close your eyes. Imagine that you are suddenly a lizard. Your tongue flips in and out as your head turns to look around you. You see no danger, so you slowly move to your right, step by step. You move to your left step by step. You freeze and turn your head to listen. Now suddenly your body changes into a horrible monster. You have parts of different bugs and lizards on your body. Your face looks ugly and horrible. Freeze your face and open your eyes. Look at the face of the students around you. What kind of face did they make?"