The first painting in a series of three I will create this semester for my multidisciplinary course. It involves taking older pieces from my first and second year painting classes and recreating them using the knowledge of composition, originality, and the techniques of watercolour and ink that I have developed since making these artworks.
This first watercolour work is a reworking of my “Modern Mona Lisa” from 2016. In looking back to that painting I realized that the composition was over-simplified and blended in with every other cliche Mona Lisa reproduction that the internet has to offer (which are really just the same painting of Mona Lisa with items from popular culture photoshopped onto it). I realized just how cliche my painting was when my friends would send me pictures of photoshopped Mona Lisas in magazines over Instagram. So this time I really made an effort to challenge myself and create a narrative and composition that, while noticeably related to the original Mona Lisa artwork, included an original concept and story.
In this case, the story of “The Mona Lisa Challenge” involves a gallery-held social media challenge in which people sit in front of the background of DaVinci’s masterpiece and try to mimic the famous "Mona Lisa Smile" and pose, using the hashtag #MonaLisaChallenge. The woman I depicted is about to do just that, getting her phone out and bringing up the camera app.
Personally I feel much more comfortable with this 2019 painting than the 2016 artwork. Not just in terms of how my skills have improved over the last three years, but mostly because I was able to push through a challenge of taking a masterpiece painting and creating my own separate narrative from the original artwork. Not to mention how childish I feel the 2016 painting looks. I honestly feel embarrassed to claim Modern Mona Lisa as something that I created, but additionally I think it's important to remember where you started in your artistic journey and how far you've come, not just dismiss the steps you took to be where you are today. So I'll make peace with that first year painting... for now...
If anything, the side-by-side comparison just shows me that I probably still can't do hands properly.
One challenge down, two more to go for this semester...