Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Leo And Me
This falls under the category of "Who Knew?" I came across a news article claiming that some art aficionado has found animals that Leonardo DaVinci hid in his painting Mona Lisa. If you haven't heard of this story and want all the gory details, you can check out this link.
The gist of this story is that an artist from New York by the name of Ron Piccirillo thinks that Leonardo painted a menagerie of animals leering over Mona's shoulder. He's identified a lion, an ape and a buffalo in the background of the famous painting. I personally didn't know that there are buffalo in France, where Leo painted this, but I'll admit I wasn't there in 1500-something when this was done, so how would I know? Anyway, to see these creatures one has to turn the painting on it's side, as shown above. Why wouldn't DaVinci have painted them right side up? What-- you expect the obvious from a guy that wrote backwards?
Now, far be it from me to judge if Mr. Piccirillo is right or wrong on this matter, but I have a hunch that he thinks that if you play the painting backward, it will say, "Paul is dead..." But anyway, you know what? I have done the same thing in one of my paintings.
Below is a painting I did several years ago of an iconic lighthouse here in Maine called the Portland Head Light. It's located in Cape Elizabeth in southern Maine. I believe it's a state law that anyone who paints in Maine must do at least one painting of this lighthouse. So, I've fulfilled my duty as a Maine citizen. But I digress...
I invite you to look at the rocks.
I was quite surprised when the owner of this painting told me that she really got a kick out of how I painted a lion cub in the rocks. I had no idea what she was talking about, so I went back and looked at a photo of this painting, and lo and behold-- out of the lights and shadows of the rocks there is what seems to be a lion cub lying down. Look again-- his head is made up from the rocks in light, and his body is the shadow area. See him? Trust me when I tell you that I had no intention of putting that in there. But here's the thing: if I had known that the image was there, I would have painted it out. Why? Because every time I see a photo of this painting, I don't see the Portland Head Light, I see that damn lion cub! Once you see it, you can't unsee it! I've learned from this, and now I really go over my paintings to make sure I don't have any images in there that I don't mean for you to see.
So that's what grabbed me about the discovery about the Mona Lisa-- I wasn't the only one who has goofed like that. I can't speak for Mr. DaVinci, but I really don't think he meant to do it either. One other thing I thought of when I read about this "amazing breakthrough" in the Mona Lisa mystery--
I guess great minds think alike...