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 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.

1 comment:

  1. I think Art History appreciation all depends on your teacher. I took a class in college and LOVED it, but the teacher was great at blending the mythology and literature of the time into our discussion so that we understood what it was that compelled the folks to create the art. It was more than just a dry class on technique.