Created by Waltham High School, Waltham, MA
Teacher: Mrs. Coughlan
Theme: Abstract paintings of NASA photographs of Earth
Materials and techniques: Fabric and paint
About this class project: Leonardo da Vinci was first and foremost and inventor and scientist. He is more famous for his paintings, of which not many are left. Some deteriorated due to his own experimentation with paint and mineral substances that did not stand up to time and atmosphere.
DaVinci was fascinated with optics. Ahead of his time in everything, he observed the upside-down image of the external landscape on the opposite wall of a closed barn, projecting through a small hole where sunlight could penetrate. He developed this into a drawing tool for artists and draftsmen, used extensively up until the 19th century. There are now reconstructed ‘sheds’ to do exactly this type of thing again, San Francisco having one of the most famous ones. http://www.giantcamera.com/. Leonardo could dream big and observing the flight of birds, drew many plans for ‘flying machines’, helicopters, and things that would take men into the sky. It would be another 500 years before his visions came to reality.
We have taken the photographs of the NASA satellite and translated them into abstract paintings. We used linen, which would have been used 500 years ago, but for paint we used acrylic, a plastic, ‘space-age’ polymer substance. If you look at the photographs (easily downloadable and free from NASA) you can see that these paintings are hardly abstract, but depictions of actual places on earth shown in a way that we would never be able to see unless they were photographed from space. This is full circle from Leonardo’s Camera Obscura (literally “dark room”), flight machines, and painting techniques in their purest forms in Renaissance Italy to modern day America.