What Is Realistic Painting?

What Is Realistic Painting?
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.1

     challenging words:    photograph, anatomy, lifelike, linseed, painters, realistic, lapis, lazuli, rebirth, classical, mysterious, basis, painter, master, kings, artists
     content words:    Ideal Realism, Mona Lisa, Leon Battista Alberti

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What Is Realistic Painting?
By Colleen Messina

1     A photograph is an easy way to remember something. Another way to remember something is by painting a picture of it. Long ago, before cameras, that is what artists did. Painting realistically is not that easy. So keep your camera handy just in case!
2     Artists have painted realistically for centuries. Many of the best realistic artists lived during the Renaissance. Their paintings were elegant and beautiful. People who study art called this kind of painting Ideal Realism. That was just a fancy way to say that these artists knew how to paint very well. Some of their paintings looked almost like photographs. Renaissance artists had a lot of skill.
3     The word "renaissance" is French. It means "rebirth." The Renaissance covers the time from the early 14th century to the late 16th century. Many scientists and artists studied Greece and Rome. They liked classical things from ancient times. They also liked to discover how things worked. Some artists even dissected bodies to learn about anatomy.
4     These artists thought the human body was the "noblest living form." One artist named Leonardo da Vinci drew a picture that showed this idea. He thought that the proportions of the human body were a good way to measure everything. He thought that the circle and the square were the basis for many things in science and in nature. So he drew a man who fit exactly inside a circle if his arms and legs were spread out. The man fit exactly inside a square when his feet were together and his arms were straight out from his sides.
5     Leonardo loved art and science. He liked to paint. He liked to invent, too. He even tried to invent flying machines. Leonardo's ideas filled many notebooks. He also painted amazingly realistic art. He liked to draw plants. He did sketches of muscles and bones. He drew raging storms. And he also painted the mysterious Mona Lisa. This famous portrait shows a lady with an odd smile. It is now in the Louvre in Paris.

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