Contemporary Mona Lisa

18 mona lisa

After an exciting lesson on Leonardo da Vinci we tried, like many other artists of modern and contemporary art, to play with the famous image of Mona Lisa. We wanted to create a Mona Lisa of nowadays, dressed in a trendy T-shirt, and posing in front of a background of a city. We imitated the shadows on Mona Lisa’s face and hands, and the landscape that fade in the distance, as in the famous aerial perspective of Leonardo da Vinci

For the drawing of the Mona Lisa we used a worksheet that you can find here. Each student has invented his T-shirt, coloring it with colored pencils. The shadows of the face and hands are made in pencil, trying to copy the areas of shadow and light from the portrait of Leonardo.

The landscape of the city was first drawn in pencil, making sure to draw the smaller palaces behind (top on the drawing). As they come close, we made them larger, to give the impression of distance even with the enlargement of the images. With the acrylic color, we created gradations of colored grays. At first we created a dark color adding some black (blue + black, red + black, green + black…) and then we created a scale of tonal gradation adding gradually this dark color to white.

The windows of the buildings were made subsequently with white tempera or a white corrector (whitebait). The figure of the Mona Lisa has been then cut out and applied over the city to complete the work.






























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  1. garden li says:


    정말 멋진 작품이에요. 과정 사진도 상세하게 올려주시고 감사합니다.

    늘 선생님의 열정에 감사드려요~^^

  2. Oh Miriam, I love these. The backgrounds are stunning pieces of work all by themselves and the mona Lisas are fantastic. I also did a Mona Lisa parody with my grade 5 students but I let them take her anywhere they wanted to and she ended up in some crazy places!!!! Here is a link to their work.
    Perhaps I can try a cityscape with gradations of colour with next year’s grade 5 students!

    • Hi Shell! Your mona Lisas are amazing!! Thanks for sharing your students’ work. They are just 10 years old and so inspired and talented!

  3. Dear Miriam,
    I showed my students my blog post where I had uploaded the grade 5s mona Lisas. They were very happy to see their work up on the big projection screen again. I then switched over to your blog and they all admired the gorgeous mushrooms on the front page. I scrolled down and they noticed the link to your Mona Lisa work and asked me if I could click on it so they could see it. So we read through your whole post together, on the projection screen in the art room. They were fascinated that you had focused on the hands and face as they had, and yet, your students Mona Lisas were so different. They were very impressed with the clever shading on the faces and necks and wished they had thought to do that. They “oohed” and “aahed” so loudly as I scrolled through the finished works, with the almost twinkling lights in the buildings windows, that it’s a wonder you didn’t hear them in Italy!!!
    So please pass on this comment to your clever students from mine! They thought your Mona lisas were fantastic!!!
    It never ceases to amaze me how incredible the internet and ‘blogland’ is. I have started to fill up a display board in the hallway behind my classroom with screenshots of my blog updates and a world map that I will cover in sticky dots, a bit like the cluster map on my blog, to indicate all the places in the world that have been looking at Cambridge Primary School students artwork. The students are always asking me, “who has been looking at our stuff this week?” or telling me that their Grandma who lives in Sri Lanka has looked at their art work!
    And, just for your information, the area where Cambridge Primary School is and where I live, has always had a significant number of italian families, as many Italians migrated to the Werribee area after WWII and set up market gardens, growing vegetables. Werribee (and Hoppers Crossing where Cambridge Primary School is) was a country town then but is now part of the outer western suburbs of Melbourne. Our P-3 students have an Italian lesson once per week, and they love it, with Signora Tregilgas, who is a brilliant Italian teacher. Her parents were italian migrants, as were the parents of our Assistant principal, Nella Cascone and two of our other teachers.
    So “Buona Notte” Miriam and I’ll sure I’ll be looking at your blog again soon.

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