Last time we learned that Leonardo DaVinci wrote backwards with his left hand. Did you know that when criminals copy signatures to steal money with checks, that many practice drawing the names upside down first?
On the scrap piece of paper, write your name as you usually do. In a minute, you will be writing your name upside down on the upper left-hand side of the white paper.
Say, "You are now going to pretend that you are a thief that is about to commit the crime of your life. You have a blank check and are going to forge the signature of a very rich person on the check and write it out to you for one million dollars. You let out a very evil laugh. (pause) You know that if you copy the signature upside down, that you can make it look like the same signature. You now look at the signature upside down and begin copying it on the upper left-hand side of your paper."
Leonardo DaVinci - Role Play and movement
Explain that the Mona Lisa is probably the most famous painting in the world. No amount of money could buy it because it is priceless. Even if you had over one billion dollars you couldn't buy it. (Show Mona Lisa print) As you can see, this woman is sitting with her hands folded in front of her and smiling a very small smile. One thing everyone says about her is that she appears to be looking at you no matter where you are in the room. Leonardo spent three years painting Lisa di Antonio Maria Gherardini Giocondo when she was 24 years old in 1503. The Italians simply call the painting "La Giocondo."
Everyone fold your hands in front of you and smile like Mona Lisa. What do you think Mona is thinking? Look at the background behind Mona. Have you seen any mountains that look like this? In Italy, they don't have mountains like this. Leonardo did it from his imagination. Remember from last time when Leonardo said, "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." Leonardo did this in this painting with his high mountains.
Everyone will now take their drawing boards, paper, and pencils and sit on the floor on one side of the room. The teacher will hang up the picture of Mona Lisa upside down on the wall. Remind students about what Dr. Edwards has studied about teaching yourselves to draw by writing backwards and drawing upside down. Tell students that they are to take the papers with their names that they drew upside down from the warm-up and begin drawing the picture upside down as they see it.
DaVinci - Improvisation
Print of The Last Supper, 1498, by Leonardo DaVinci. Sta. Maria delle Grazie, Milan
Leonardo painted his Last Supper painting different than any artist before him. (See a modern interpretation by Dali) If your school district tolerates discussion about religion in art history, explain that this painting is of a story in the Bible where Jesus is having his last supper with his friends before he is to be nailed to a cross. One of his friends sitting there, Judas, is later going to turn Jesus in to the Roman police. Jesus tells the disciples that someone there is going to turn him in. After the commotion dies down, he says that the person who turns him in will put his hand in the dish at the same time Jesus does. Judas and Jesus both reach for the dish at the same time and then Jesus tells him to go and do what he came for. Judas then runs off. Leonardo did this painting different than any other artist. Most artists at this time painted this painting when Jesus said, "He who dips his hand with me in the dish will betray me." Instead, he painted it a little earlier when Jesus said, "One of you here will betray me." The disciples then say, "Is it I? Who would do such a thing!"
Have 13 students sit on one side of a length of three tables. Assign each of them one of the characters in the painting. Have them study the picture, hang the picture behind them, and then they pose exactly how the painting looks and freeze their positions. Help some students get their position if they have trouble.
Now tell them that we are backing up before the scene in the painting. You all are sitting there having a meal with your best friend and suddenly he says that someone there among you will betray him and turn him into the Roman police to be nailed to a cross. You all are then amazed and angry. "Who would do such a thing," you think. Jesus says that the betrayer is the same one who reached his hand in the dish with Jesus at the same time. Jesus then tells him to go and do what he came for. Judas runs off and all the other disciples become upset that a good friend would do such a horrible thing. Students will then act this out with lines while the rest of the class watches.
Ask: Which person is the part of the painting your eyes go to first? Did you notice how Leonardo arranged all the disciples in groups of 3? Explain that because Leonardo experimented with paints all the time, the paint began to peal off this painting shortly after he finished. When Napoleon came to town decades later, his soldiers shot at it, and finally, monks cut a door into it. The church was bombed during World War II and the only wall left standing was that of the painting.
Leonardo DaVinci - Dramatization
Tell students that Leonardo knew Michelangelo when he was alive. In fact, they lived in the same city together. They were not friends, however. In fact, they were enemies. It seemed that they were always criticizing each other all the time. Leonardo said that Michelangelo made his sculptures look like bags of nuts and Michelangelo made fun of the fact that Leonardo couldn't ever finish anything he started. The best story we have of these two is when they were both painting in the same room of the Palazzo Vecchio. They were seeing who could paint better than the other. Unfortunately Leonardo played with his paints again and the paint didn't dry and began running. He finally gave up, but not before everyone was amazed at how fantastic his painting looked. Many say it would have been his best painting had he not experimented with paints.
Ask for two volunteers to play Leonardo and Michelangelo. These students are to pretend they are competing against each other in the Palazza Vecchio. They are to take the colored chalk and create battle scenes. Each is to say that their picture is the better picture. Leonardo begins to get upset when his paints begin to run and finally he storms off. Let the two students perform while the rest of the class watches.