Saturday, August 8, 2009
A Mona Lisa Smirk with a Tattoo
Art history rocks. I wish I knew that in college. The semester I took Ancient Art to Pre-Renaissance, it was epic FAIL. The following semester I earned an A in Renaissance to Modern Art. Why? I stayed awake by color-coding index cards and strapping an IV of Diet Coke to my arm during the slide show presentations. College is definitely wasted on the young because I rediscovered my love of art history through coloring books.
My daughters, aged 5 and 9, are already computer savvy. I have to drag them away kicking and screaming from their monitors to discover a world out there, something I'm learning as well. One frustrated afternoon I got out the markers, pencils and Spongebob Squarepants coloring books using techniques I learned in art class. They sat there a little while humoring me but then asked to go back on Webkinz.com. I lingered, cross-hatching Spongebob a nice shade of ochre.
Then I took a trip to Barnes and Noble and found a plethora of coloring books for grown-ups. Or at least semi grown-ups. I found books with geometric patterns, Amish quilts, Victorian houses and my favorite, masterpieces. The masterpiece book gives a page of history of each painting, and a page to color the masterpiece your way. I gave the Mona Lisa purple hair, goth make-up and a tattoo. I learned how to pronounced French names the right way. I wondered why there are so many famous paintings with naked women but none of naked men.
So I propose a new teaching method to budding art students who'd rather text in the dark than watch slide shows: give them a coloring book. Let them pencil, mark or crayon their take on the masters. And draw a few naked guys once in a while to even out the score.