Friday, August 23, 2013

What I Learned About Leonard da Vinci Today During My Kids' Art Class

Although my kids officially go to public school now, they had asked me to continue to teach them subjects and topics that they weren't learning in school.  That makes me very happy as they shared with me that they miss our "learning time" together - which tells me I definitely did something right during those eight years of homeschooling.

So today we started our Art History studies.  I am using Usborne's Famous Artists book for this.  The book starts with Giotto, however the kids asked for me to start with an artist they were more familiar with.  I knew who they wanted (da Vinci, of course), but I had them select between da Vinci and Michelangelo.  Guess who they picked?!?  You guessed it! Leonard da Vinci!

Having studied art history in college, I have been a huge fan of da Vinci for most of my life!  The kids, therefore, have probably been taught more about him than any of the other artists.  Now that they are bit older, I am going to change that.  And now that we live in Chicago, we can visit the Chicago Art Institute and see some great paintings - LIVE!

The Usborne Book of Famous Artists is great as it gives just enough information, two to four pages worth, to whet anyone's appetite to learn more about the artist presented.  Usborne is known for presenting accurate information along with not so well-known information.  I was shocked as I read the four pages on da Vinci to my kids that there were some facts about him that either I didn't know already, or I simply had forgotten over time.  I'm sure the later is probably the case.  

Here are those new or old found facts on Leonardo da Vinci:

  • I knew da Vinci kept lots of notes and sketches in journals on his studies, but did you know that he wrote in reversed form and from right to left on the pages?  
  • He was so busy coming up with new ideas that he often abandoned his paintings before finishing them.  There are only about 10 actually finished da Vinci paintings today.  I personally think he got bored and decided not to finish.  How many of us have started projects and not finished?
  • Leonardo was born in the village of Vinci.  Hence the name "Leonardo of Vinci"!  I'm sure that is a fact that got lost in my brain somewhere.
  • It is common knowledge that da Vinci designed military equipment, but did you know he also designed defensive buildings?
  • In his last three years of life Leonardo, the French king offered him to move to France and he gave him a grand salary and even a castle to live in.  I never knew this, but it is said that da Vinci died in the arms of the French king.
Now that we have that short yet interesting introduction, we can move on to other information about Leonardo da Vinci not only as an artist but also as an inventor.

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