Suggestions to Make Classic Paintings Way Better

Shawn Bowers has ideas to improve upon several popular masterpieces.


The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

First off, too many clocks. Just pick a clock and stick with it, and once you’ve picked the one you stuck with, make it readable. I want to know what time this painting is happening at. That tree on the desk should be coming out of the ground, not the desk, and maybe give it some big jungle leaves so it looks cooler. Or you could move the tree to some of the empty space on the right, because otherwise it looks like you forgot to paint something there. Also, the horse on the ground doesn’t have a head and looks like a tamale husk. Some simple eyeballs and a mouth, and maybe a word balloon that says “whinny” or “neigh” would go a long way. He could also be standing up or be wearing a blanket, or maybe a couple of horses are galloping in the background to contextualize it. Then, all of a sudden we’re on a horse farm, and that’s much more interesting.


American Gothic by Grant Wood

These people are married, right? Let’s make them look a little happier, because marriage is fine. She’s not even looking at the camera, which given that it’s a painting should have been an easy fix. Maybe make her prettier too, less chin, more lips, and give him some hair or a bow tie or something fun to spice him up. Logistical detail: that pitchfork couldn’t pitch a single thing of hay, let alone a whole thing of it. Give him some thicker fork prongs. And a sun coming out of the corner of the sky would be great, and a valid reason to give them both sunglasses.


Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

Too many characters, definitely, I don’t know who I’m supposed to be looking at. It’s like you’re adapting a Robert Altman movie into a painting because I’m just as confused and not interested. Why are some people holding umbrellas and some people aren’t? I would paint over the people holding umbrellas, because they look like idiots since it’s a sunny day. Or if you want to keep the umbrellas, just get some blue paint and do some rain lines over the top of it. Then you could add a funny caption to the bottom, like “Bet you wish you had an umbrella!” On a more sensitive note, the lady in the foreground on the right has way too huge of a butt. It’s not what a lady’s figure looks like and you’ll probably get some angry mail about that one. Also, the whole thing is very very pixellated. Try outputting the painting in a higher resolution or save it as a PDF.


Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci

Two words: eyebrow pencil. One more word: cleavage. Bonus word: bangs.


The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

This thing’s a mess. It looks like you melted a bunch of crayons together into a sleeping bag, and then somebody else printed a DNA results test and laid it on top. If the painting is of a man kissing a lady, I want to see lips on lips. One pair of lips should be open a little bit and the other pair of lips is wedged right in between there, kind of propping the other lips open. None of this cheek kissing business, because people stopped kissing on the cheek in the late 1800s. Then they’re standing or laying or whatever on a cliff made of buttons, and that’s confusing because it’s like are they in a fantasy world or is this just something they customized in their own house or what? Maybe put them in a kitchen or in front of a forest, some place that we can clearly look and say “oh that’s where they are.”


The Scream by Edvard Munch

Now here’s a fun concept, you’ve got a mime out on a boardwalk, but people don’t know they should be having that much fun because everything’s all loopy and scary. Add some face paint to clearly delineate that this is a mime. Maybe he has a hat in front of him that says “tips for the mime” and people around him are putting money in the hat. In the background, a Ferris wheel or rollercoaster would let people know “waterfront amusement park” much easier than this orange armageddon sky you’ve got going. Nobody would go to the boardwalk on a day like that because it could be severe weather.


Farbstudie Quadrate by Wassily Kandinsky

What the heck is this gibberish title all about? It sounds like someone asked you what the name of your painting was, and you sneezed, and they wrote that down. Then they asked you your name and you sneezed again. Maybe call it “Circles Practice?” The quickest way to fix this would be to just buy a compass and use a pencil to help draw the circles before you start painting. And if the square sections aren’t coming out even, fold the canvas hamburger style, then hot dog style, then hamburger style again and you’ll have even spaces to do your circles in. Really, maybe just scrap the whole thing and paint a pretty river or a dog or something. The dog could have some circles around him, if you get good enough at doing them.


The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

So you’ve got this flying guy with wings, and he’s naked, holding this naked woman and blowing the clothes off some other naked woman. Everybody loves a Porky’s, but if you’re going to do a raunchy painting, make it one of those cool animated things where you turn it one way and her clothes are on and then you turn it another way and her clothes are off. All you’d have to do is point the one angle at your mom’s room and she’d think you had a really elegant painting, but you’d know the truth and everyone would have a good giggle. Then there’s this lady on the right who’s trying to cover up the naked woman, but maybe SHE should have her clothes blown off too, as a prank. She could have a surprised look on her face like she didn’t know it was coming, even though she’s probably in on it. Everyone should be naked, is what I’m saying, as part of the cheekiness.

That note can apply to any of the above paintings.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia

Shawn Bowers is a writer/performer in Chicago, IL. He encourages you to stalk him in his Web Zone or his Twittersphere.