The Story Behind the Art: “Mona with Mask”
I teach watercolor painting using masterpieces as the basis of our projects, and this year we painted the Mona Lisa. I looked at some of my demo pieces for class that lay dormant while we were off from our classes due to lockdowns and forced isolation. My Mona kept staring back at me from my art table as the voices in my life from family and friends, on radio and on TV all cried out, “Wear A Mask.” Early on we weren’t sure how effective the masks would be, but one thing we were sure about–our desire to get back to doing the things we used to do that we loved–like go to art class–and if the mask would help make that possible, then so be it.
I put on mask on Mona Lisa as a symbol of compliance and “the times.” Mona has endured as a mysterious portrait that has been invoked, satirized, made topical. My mixed media painting of her wearing a mask was created as a traditional watercolor that was enhanced by acrylic marbling (making it a mixed media work) and then ended with a digital mask superimposed over the digital file of the painting. In other words, the mask is an artificial overlay that doesn’t exist on the real painting, only in the digital space where it can be removed.