I recently finished reading the biography out on Leonard da Vinci by Walter Isaacson and discovered some new things about this artist legend I couldn’t wait to share with you.
Hi my name is Carrie Brummer and here on Artist Strong I help artists like you build your skill and develop your unique artist voice. Today I have 4 Lessons we can learn from Leonardo da Vinci.
(1) It’s OK not to finish everything – Leonardo only finished 15 artworks in his lifetime. He had so many interests and often lost interest once he solved a problem. He was terrible at following through with commissioned work and there is a lot of historical evidence of patrons pursuing Leonardo to finish a work. Some of his contracts even had finish clauses that if he didn’t finish by a certain date he had to return any money earned up to that point! While I don’t recommend you blowing off commissions you agree to, we have this man on a pedestal, an amazing example of what humans can accomplish and understand. And if he struggled to finish work, it’s probably normal for many of us to NOT finish it all too.
(2) It’s OK to have multiple interests – Often involved in pagentry and event planning for city activities and royal or ducal families. Some of his drawings people assume are for war are actually contraptions to help create special effects during those events. In this multidisciplinary activity he could make art, costumes, use science to create special effects and bedazzle the crowd and his clients. This fostered his imagination and helped him develop ideas beyond his time in science and art.
(3) Embrace your childlike wonder – he was interested in EVERYTHING. Curious about all kinds of topics, he continued to ask questions like children of today do (why is the sky blue for example, one he answered in his journals) until his death. He even had long to-do lists filled with odd questions.
He dissected animals and people to study and draw them and fully understand things like how our eyes work as well as how many muscles are involved in creating a smile.
He followed the rabbit hole of his curiosities. He also regularly drew and dreamed fantastic ideas that were impossible to realize during his lifetime. But this means he had some of the first ideas for scuba diving gear, how to get men to fly, and more.
What if we worried less about what we should be doing and spent more time following our childlike wonder and curiosity?
(4) Use the power of your imagination – I can’t count the number of times the author noted Leo discovered something hundreds of years before it’s rediscovered and used in science. There is one situation where he uncovered how part of the heart works that no one could figure out until the 1970s!
He did city planning, imagined war weapons, studied how water moved, made musical instruments, studied light and how it reflects, and much much more.
And this for a man with little schooling. He could barely read Latin, which was a big deal at the time…
Don’t let school, or lack of schooling, stop you from the things you care about and have interest in!
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