Sometimes it takes a second, third, or even fifteenth look to really get something, but really, there’s no greater feeling than when everything clicks.

Let’s talk classic art for a second. We’ve all see the Mona Lisa, it’s the “painting to end all paintings” when we talk about art. And I, like I assume so many others, never really “got it” as this magnificent painting. I even wrote a whole article on why we should care about it, but I still wasn’t convinced.

6 minutes

Why Do We Love the Mona Lisa?

We all know about this iconic painting. But why is the Mona Lisa so famous? Well, it's quite a fascinating story filled with intrigue and the tides of pop-culture.

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So what, after years of staring at this portrait finally convinced me to take a second look? What if I were to tell you that the Mona Lisa isn’t just a good painting, but actually an optical illusion of sorts?

Leonardo da Vinci’s artistry isn’t just in his brush strokes. No, his deeper mastery is in how he was able to harness the quirks of human perception and work them into his paintings.

How did he do this? What tricks is he playing on us? Why do we keep hearing about “Mona Lisa’s Smile?” This super cool piece from The Atlantic explains it all.

We’ve paired this video with thought-provoking discussion questions perfect for the classroom in this touchstone on our education platform, EWCed!

Now, go ahead and look at the Mona Lisa and try out that experiment from the video. Let your gaze wander from the painting and then back to her lips. Do you see her mouth move?

I actually studied art history in undergrad, but even with all of my focus on what makes great art, the Mona Lisa had never struck me as all that interesting. That is until I learned that there was some remarkable science behind it! Now I’m thinking this is a wonderful example of how sometimes we need to hear something 1,000 different ways before we really understand it.

Art, like any other subject, doesn’t have to be something we just instinctively “get”. You wouldn’t expect for somebody seeing a formula like E= mc2 for the first time to understand its complexities, its significance, and its history. So why do we feel bad or unintellectual if we don’t “get” a great work of art, writing, or music without any training?

So, maybe you still aren’t smitten with the Mona Lisa, but now, at least, you have one more way to appreciate the work of Leonardo da Vinci, a master who was able to combine chemistry, biology, and art to awe us for 500 years.

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!


Want to see something cool?

You’re definitely going to find something that wows you in this category…

Creativity on EWC


  1. “How Leonardo Da Vinci ‘Augmented Reality’.” Vimeo, The Atlantic, 16 Apr. 2018, Accessed 7 June 2018.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

CEO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Since 2015, Liesl has been a writer, editor, and is now the CEO at Ever Widening Circles. She is a life-long camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often root-tripping—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV