We've been studying the Renaissance this year and it certainly wouldn't be the same without Leonardo da Vinci! The time period has been very fun - especially because TJ loves art projects. There are tons of ideas for learning with Renaissance art. We've collected our favorites to share - here are our favorite Leonardo da Vinci Art Projects for Kids.
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci was a true Renaissance man with a variety of diverse interests. He was a painter, an architect, an engineer, a sculptor, a scientist, writer, and musician. He was one busy man! He was also born in April - so it's the perfect time to learn more about him!
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7 Fun Leonardo da Vinci Art Projects for Kids
There are plenty of ideas and Leonardo da Vinci art projects for kids - his works and imagination can help us explore many different avenues of art and drawing. Here are some of the fun ideas we've collected:
Sketch like da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci was certainly curious about how things worked. He would take things apart and sketch the various pieces. Some of his drawings were very detailed. (He was even one of the first people to cut open dead animals and humans to study their anatomy.) His drawings of human anatomy were so detailed that they were used in medical books.
While we certainly don't plan to cut open any dead animals, we can be inspired by his curiosity and look at the devices and mechanisms around the house to practice sketching. Take apart a pen, a stapler, or cut open a piece of fruit and sketch what you see - in as much detail as possible.
Paint a Portrait
Leonardo da Vinci is probably most well-known for his painting of Mona Lisa. While it is certainly a famous portrait, it's made even more famous by the fact that da Vinci was not known for portrait painting - he only did a handful of painted portraits in his lifetime.
Grab some supplies and paint a portrait of your mom or your favorite pet.
Sketch a Self Portrait
While Leonardo da Vinci didn't actually paint many portraits, he did spend quite a bit of time sketching - people (including himself), anatomical features, and scientific sketches. So your mission is to do a self-portrait - find a sketch pad, a pencil or chalk pastels, a mirror, and sketch a picture of yourself.
Compare the Portraits He Painted
Add some art study to your art schedule! Take a look at the portraits da Vinci painted (you can find them all online) and compare them. Open each in a different browser tab and compare two at a time.
A few art study questions to get you started:
- What is the mood of the portrait? Happy? Sad?
- How does she/he feel?
- What are they thinking about?
- What do you notice about the background of the painting?
Now study one picture for a few minutes, noticing all the details. Then cover the picture and 'narrate' it back to your mom or dad. Pretend they've never seen the portrait and your details are all they will know about it.
Send a Secret Message
Leonardo liked to fill his notebooks with his sketches and ideas. He wrote his notes backward - "mirror writing" so the only way to read his notes is to hold them up to a mirror. Have fun with a friend - writing secret messages using da Vinci's "mirror writing" technique. Or come up with your own secret message language and share it with a friend.
Another fun way to send a message - with invisible ink. Mix equal parts of baking soda and water (about 1/4 cup of each). Dip a paintbrush into the mixture and write a message on white paper. Let dry. To read the message: paint with a dark juice (like grape juice) across the paper. The acid in the juice reacts with the baking soda, making the message appear.
Learn about Perspective
Many Renaissance artists started using techniques to make paintings look more realistic - using light, color, and perspective. Take some time to study da Vinci's The Last Supper - look at the lines and vanishing point (Jesus' head), noticing how the forced perspective makes it look like the room grows smaller in the background of the painting.
Practice making your own drawing using the forced perspective technique.
Make your own Paint
Renaissance artists couldn't run out to the nearest craft store and buy paint - they had to make it themselves! They would grind and blend their own pigments and ingredients to make the colors the needed.
To make your own egg tempera:
- Crack an egg and separate the white from the yolk. Hold the yolk over a small bowl and use a toothpick to carefully extract the liquid from the egg yolk, throwing away the membrane. Repeat with two more yolks. Add 3 teaspoons of water to the yolks and mix until smooth.
- Choose the chalk colors you plan to use and carefully grind each one to a fine powder, adding each to its own container or section of the muffin tin. Add a small amount of water and mix thoroughly to make a paste for each color.
- Add an equal amount of egg yolk to each color, stirring well. It should be like smooth paint - not too runny. If it's still too thick, add a little bit of water, mixing well.
- Your paint is ready - start painting! Sketch out a picture and use your homemade tempera to complete the painting.
More resources to learn about Leonardo da Vinci