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How to seek inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci

Who do you look for inspiration in your daily life? Who influences your work and your profession the most? Who is the front runner in being your role model? Think of all your greatest heroes and heroines. For a few of us, it maybe our parents, but most of the times, we seek inspiration from the greatest people who have ever lived. Immersing ourselves into the lives of these great artists, scholars and other prolific leaders and into their ideals provides rich nourishment into our minds and hearts.

It’s quite evident that we underestimate ourselves and our true potential. To support my previous statement, recent scientific studies show that everyone is gifted with virtually unlimited potential for learning and creativity.  Most of us perceive creativity as a trait acquired through practice and schooling, although slightly true, is just a heuristic approach towards learning and crafting your brain and to hone your creative skills.

Most of us assert the fact that creativity is fixed at birth and only those who are born with it are able to pursue it in the right manner, whereas the rest of us who pick the art of understanding design via schooling and appropriate courses and sometimes self-learned, cannot reach the levels of creativity achievable by the former. Contemporary psychological research has revealed startling truths about the extent of our potential. In a nutshell, it means ‘your brain is much better than you think‘.


The human brain is certainly the most complex system in the entire world. It is continuously storing and retrieving information with unbelievably high speeds. The human brain comprises of over 1015 i.e., a thousand trillion neurons, connected to each other forming an intricate network. These synapses, as they are called process information much faster than even today’s fastest super computer. This might seem a bit unlikely but it is definitely true.  It is also quite apparent that no man or woman, past or present has fully reached the potential of his/her brain. At this point of time, if you wish to wonder how to explore those hidden areas in your brain, Leonardo da Vinci is without doubt, the greatest inspiration that you might get.

500 years after the renaissance, when people started to question the very foundations of science and art, the world has rapidly evolved into a whole new dimension of information exchange and is experiencing a rapid expansion in knowledge, capitalism and interconnection. Air travel, mobile phones, television and now the internet combine to weave an increasingly complex web of global information exchange. We have landed men on the moon and machines on mars, unleashed the power of the atom, ciphered the genetic code and unlocked many of the secrets of the human brain. It is clearly obvious that change is exhilarating and inevitable. The problem is, no one knows how these changes affect your way of life and your professional work ethics.

Art is something which the human being has been obsessed with for thousands of years. Right from the early neanderthal with his stick figures on the wall, to the exotic paintings by the Egyptians, the tradition of art has grown rapidly throughout the millennium. It has provided never ending inspiration to many of us and has evolved into becoming more than just art. Contemporary artists like Van Gogh, Salvador Dali were known for their exceptional skills with the paint brush. But the only artist among the bunch who made a remarkable sign on the future of thinking and conceptualisation was none other than Leonardo da Vinci.

In this article, we shall study how to bring Da Vinci’s inspiration and his wisdom, into our creative works and also into our life every day. We shall also explore how to enrich our work and creativity by essentially employing Leonardo’s principles in our work. We shall discover new and invigorating ways to see our world, as we develop new strategies for creative thinking. Leonardo’s principles are a driving force which will definitely help us in sharpening our senses and liberating our inner creativity.

Leonardo da Vinci was a man of multiple dimensions of talents. Not only was he a painter but he also had impeccable skills as a sculptor, an architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer. His unquenchable curiosity was equalled only by his powers of invention. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.

Most noted for his greatest works of art such as the paintings of Mona Lisa, The Last supper and his drawing of the Vitruvian Man, he is responsible for a tremendous influence on modern day education. His works are regarded as cultural icons, being reproduced on everything from the Euro to text books to t-shirts. Not only was he one of the prolific painters ever to have lived, he is also revered for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualized a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator and even a perpetual motion machine. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime but many of his minor works even entered the world of manufacturing unheralded.

Recently, when I was doing a bit of research on his methodologies of thinking and creativity, I came into possession, one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read. It’s titled ‘How to think like Da Vinci’, authored by Michael Gelb. This article is heavily inspired from the book. I have tried to explain how to employ tactics and strategies followed by Leonardo, into our daily life and our professional work to perform better and to obtain great results.

These principles have been collected after a thorough research into the man and his works. They might seem pretty obvious once you notice them. However, to employ these in your art, you need to remember it, develop it and apply it.

The 7 Da Vincian principles are:

1) Curiosità - Quest for Curiosity, both in life and learning.

2) Dimostrazione - Commitment to Test knowledge through Experience and the willingness to learn from mistakes.

3) Sensazione - Continual Refinement of your senses.

4) Sfumato - Willingness to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty.

5) Arte/scienza - Maintenance of balance between science, art, logic and imagination.

6) Corporalità - Cultivation of ambidexterity, symmetry and to be fresh and alive.

7) Connessione - Recognition and appreciation of the interconnectedness in everything you see, hear, feel and touch.

Let us look into each of Da Vincian principles in detail and also how to employ them into our work and life:

1) Curiosità

Curiosita builds upon that natural impulse, the desire to learn more. Everyone has got this; the challenge is to use it effectively and to develop it for our benefits. Right from birth, we aspire to see new things, hear different sounds. Our mind is on a continuous quest for discovering new things and to explore new ideas. Children are mostly like little scientists; they keep discovering newer stuff and keep asking questions after questions. As a child, Leonardo possessed this never ending curiosity for the world around him. He was fascinated with nature, developed an incredible gift of painting and loved mathematics. Leonardo’s inquisitiveness was not bound only to his formal studies but went beyond his daily experiences in the world beyond him.

Great minds ask great questions. The questions we ask, the ideas we ponder about, greatly influence the quality of our lives and work. By developing a curiosity remotely similar to that of da Vinci, we can broaden our horizons on thinking and creativity.

You can do the following to ignite your inquisitive nature and to spark the inner curiosity:

Start off my keeping a notebook. Leonardo always carried a notebook with him wherever he went so that he could jot down ideas, expressions and observations as they occurred. Just like him, you need to use your notebook to record your questions, observations, insights, dreams and musings and carry it with you everywhere. Most importantly, keep writing in it regularly. Use this notebook to doodle and to draw sketches. Bring it to life by pumping in some great stuff that goes on inside your mind. Whatever you can find offline (apart from your thoughts) like newspapers advertisements, information from the internet and any sort of inspiration that you find, use it as a tool to enhance your sketches and notes.

Here are some guidelines which will help you in awakening the inquisitiveness in you:

  • Make a list of points relevant to you and which you deem appropriate. These questions might include new ideas for your next design or for your next blog post.
  • When you are done with it, go through your list again and highlight the keywords and the theme in general, which emerge.  Try to ask questions which might not have popped up while you jotted down the points, such as ‘What do I provide emphasis to?’ ‘Is it typography, simplicity or should I add more elements?
  • Review it again and choose the few best of those ideas and rank them according to your interest, the importance and the availability of resources to achieve that task.

Note: It’s better to make a small list with accurate observations than to flood it with too many ideas which might frustrate you later.

Contemplate your ideas:

Take the most relevant question that interests you and write it down on a sheet of paper in BOLD letters. Stick it onto a wall and start gathering ideas from every direction and start noting them down. If your mind starts to wander, then look at the question again till you get back on track. This will help you channelize your thoughts and focus on that particular question. The secret of effective stream of consistent writing is to keep your pen moving. Forget about the mistakes, grammatical errors but focus more on converting your thoughts into words. This kind of behavior might lead to a lot of redundancy and gibberish but it also leads to profound insight and understanding.

A nifty trick here is to ask simple yet naive questions that sophisticated professionals might overlook. Da Vinci’s questions were often striking in its simplicity. These are what, when, who, how, where, why, and so on.

  • What are the exact problems and the underlying issues? What will happen if i ignore it? What might be the side effects if i pursue in solving the problem?
  • When will such a solution become noticeable by others? When can it breed itself into existence?
  • Who cares about it? Whom does it affect? Who created it and who can help solve it?
  • How does it happen, how can i get more information regarding to the problem and the other things that it is influencing? How can i look at it from unfamiliar perspective? How can it be changed?
  • Where does it happen and where did it begin? Where haven’t I looked, where else does this happen? Why is it important?

Learn something new:

Another trait you can develop is to learn something new. Digress from your orthodox life and look into something new in a whole new direction. Da Vinci taught himself Latin when he was 42. Cultivate a hobby such as singing, music instruments, sports, photography, drawing, painting, sculpting, writing poetry and novels or anything that might interest you which has a direct or indirect influence on your work. Take your notebook and write down a few of your hobbies which interest you the most. Then ask questions like, ‘How can i pursue this hobby?‘, ‘How may i employ this into my work ethics?‘ and ‘How will such a hobby help me in improving what I do?’

Well, not only should you ask these questions but be curious enough to find answers quickly. By doing this, you broaden your prospects that enriches all aspects of your life.

You can improve your curiosity by asking your friends, relatives, colleagues, boss for constant feedback. Ask questions related to your weakness, strengths, and qualities and how it appeals to them. Ask their opinions about what you need to do to be more effective in your work and add value to it at the same time.

 

2) Dimonstrazione

Dimostrazione is “a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes“. Wisdom comes from experience and success without risks is inevitable.

This principle is the key to making most of your experiences. Leonardo effectively made the most of his experiences in a studio he worked for during his time. He made canvases, paintings and encouraged himself to study the structure of plants, animals and humans. He grew up with a profoundly practical orientation.  He realized that one challenges the world’s view by first challenging his own views. Cautioning that the greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions. Learning to work like Leonardo requires you to question your own opinions, thoughts and beliefs.

  • Think for a moment the way you’ve learnt what you know. Do you learn more from your successes or failures? It’s quite evident that good judgments always come from experience, but we also know that a lot of experience comes from bad judgment too. Take a moment to analyze how to make most of your mistakes.
  • Many of us are unaware of the sources we use to obtain and verify information. Ask questions like ‘How did I form this idea?‘, ‘How firmly do i believe it?‘, ‘How do i maintain it?‘, ‘What would make me change my thoughts and beliefs?‘. Take a moment to consider how sources like the social media, news, internet, books and magazines inspired you to create your work. Consider even people, religions, your boss, Mother Nature and also your own experience. ‘What criteria do you use to assess the validity of the information you garner?
  • When Leonardo was immersed in painting, or when he was contemplating newer ideas for automobiles, he viewed his subjects from at least 3 different perspectives. Do the same with your beliefs and opinions. Just as the maestro used to see his paintings in reverse, try making the strongest possible argument against your own belief. Leonardo also saw perspectives by reviewing his paintings from distance.
  • Ask yourself, will my beliefs and opinions change if i came from a different country, race, age, gender or religion.
  • Finally seek opinions from your friends who might offer perspectives different from your own. Discuss with your friends and this might help you to see the issue from another point of view.

Leonardo made many mistakes and experienced tremendous adversity in his quest to find the right answers. Success and “nirvana” always comes at a price but in the end, we gain enough wisdom to see beyond our mundane perceptions and also acquire ability to make accurate decisions.

3) Sensazione

Sensazione is “the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience“. According to da Vinci, the secrets of Dimonstrazione can be revealed through our senses, particularly sight. That’s why one of Leonardo’s mottoes is saper vedere (knowing how to see) which is a corner stone of his artistic and scientific work.

Da Vinci’s sight enabled him to capture unprecedented subtleties in his paintings. For Da Vinci, the eyes were truly the window to his world. He considered vision as the most supreme form of senses and painting was therefore the greatest discipline, which was followed by hearing and thus, music become the next important entity for him. Although he valued, practiced and supported the development of all the senses, he focused mainly on cultivating a highly intricate visionary perception and embodied them into his art. He also used to fill his vicinity with scents of flowers and perfumes.

An average human looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without awareness and talks without thinking.

What do creative people like artists, designers and poets have in common?

They have the ability to engage in metaphorical thinking. They have the propensity to seamlessly link unrelated ideas. Noted Neurologist, V S Ramachandran explains that artists and the people, who are “creative”, suffer from a unique and characteristic peculiarity called as “SYNESTHESIA” where the person is able to correlate information in a distinct manner. Synesthesia is eight times more common among the creative people like artists, designers, poets than in the general population.

The fact is we all “suffer” from synesthesia but we are in denial about it. It takes a lot of visual practice and creative thinking to develop such an interconnected network of “thinking beyond the obvious”.

For example, when a normal person is asked the meaning of the idiom “All that glitters is not gold” he is bound to say “Well, if it is metallic and shiny, it doesn’t mean it is valuable, but you have to measure its specific gravity” (this is unless he knows the actual meaning a priori), thus completely missing the metaphorical meaning, but if the same question is posed to an artist, he would give the metaphorical explanation. This is where a thin line between creativity and ordinary thinking can be drawn.

Synesthesia, also referred to as ‘The mingling of the senses‘, is a characteristic of great artistic and scientific geniuses. You can heighten all the powers of your senses by cultivating synesthetic awareness. There are several ways one can acquire this. One of the ways is to perform multitasking. For instance, while you are listening to your favorite music, try to draw lines and shape that correspond to the tones and which your brain interprets. Take a look at your favorite paintings and bring those colors to life by creating virtual sounds from those paintings.

Here are a few guidelines which might help you in sharpening your senses and developing your capability of creative thinking:

  • Try visualizing your designs in a totally different manner. Analyze what kind of ingredients you need, to create such a design. Imagine the aroma it spreads around you. If you were to bite into that design, what would it taste like? Try this imaginary multi-sensory sculpting exercise with many of your design ideas.
  • Study the life and works of your favorite artists. Make a list of your 10 favorite painters. Devote a period of time to immerse yourself into the study of their life and their work. Read everything you can about them, visit their works. Hang reproductions of your favorite paintings in your room and even in your bathroom (most of the times, inspiration comes while taking a shower).
  • Visiting museums helps you a lot in developing your senses. Take some time off and visit any cultural art galleries near your place. Prehistoric artifacts help a lot in gathering new ideas and hone your senses. This will invariably help you understand art better.
  • Every sound and silence has the ability to hone our auditory perceptions. The sound in the city, busy streets, and the heavy traffic can just be as frustrating as the “creativity burnout” itself. Try to avoid the busy environment as much as possible. Whenever you find time, make yourself completely free and just try to meditate and listen to the various sounds of silence (technically referred to as comfort noise) around you. These sounds appeared layered to our brains. The top layer consisting of obvious noises like the fan, clock, traffic outside. Below that layer, exists sounds such as breathing, footsteps and the rustles of your body movement. Try moving from layer to layer until you can hear the soft rhythmic beating of your heart.
  • Listen to your favorite music artists. Choose whom you admire the most and immerse yourself into it for an hour or so. Music helps you to soothe your minds and develops the calmness and placidity, thus refreshing your condition constantly.

Read this article, I wrote on ‘How to avoid your Creativity burnout?‘ where I have mentioned some valuable points which will help you get a perpetual flow of ideas.

4) Sfumato

Sfumato can be described as “the willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty“. When you try to be curious, inquisitive and probe your senses to sharpen your skills, you come face to face with uncertainty. Artists use this term to describe the hazy and mysterious quality, which was one of the most distinct characteristics of Leonardo’s paintings.

Here are a few methods you can employ to maneuver ambiguity and tackle your questions in a whole new level:

  • Working on your notebook, try your hand on some abstract art. Sketch the feeling of the uncertainty generated from a particular question from the list of questions you jotted down from the Curiosita Topic.
  • One of the greatest paintings of all time, Mona Lisa is by far the perfect example which embodies ambiguity and is still an enigma to most of the people. Take a look at such paintings and analyze the reason behind creating them. Notice how you feel when you look at them and write down your thoughts about it and analyze the idea behind creating such paintings from different perspectives.
  • It’s very important to develop and cultivate the true power of intuition. Great musicians admit that most of the inspiration comes from the empty space between their notes. Leonardo once said that some of the greatest geniuses accomplish more when they work less. So, instead of working all day rigorously, try to take some time off and feel free. This will help you in garnering ideas better.
  • Remember to trust your gut. Try to pay more attention to your everyday intuitions. By monitoring them daily, you hone their accuracy. Try to cultivate a self-motivational, inner guidance system inside your mind. Comments such as ‘My gut tells me otherwise’; ‘I just know in my heart it must be true’ reflect the body centered nature of intuition.  Whenever you are in your solitary gratitude, like when you are taking a walk, riding a car or even lying on the bed, remember to listen to your inner voices.

5) Arte / Scienza

Arte/Sceinze is “the development of balance between science and art, logic and imagination“. This is nothing but thinking with your whole brain. The human brain has been intricately modeled without any noticeable flaws but we are still not able to understand why it works the way it does. It has taken centuries for man to understand the working of the human brain and the fact is, we are still not there yet.

Anatomically speaking, the brain divides itself into two hemispheres. Each of the hemispheres helps in nurturing several different classes of skills. The right side of hemisphere breeds creativity and the left side breeds logical reasoning. You know what is best for you and the areas in which you excel.  Try to maintain a balance between the two by practicing in those areas which you consider yourself not adept. This kind of equilibrium helps you to think out of the box and embed certain philosophical and logoical musings into your work.

Was Leonardo a scientist who studied art or an artist who studied science?

Clearly he was both. For him, art and science were inseparable. In his treatise on painting he cautions potential loopholes. Those who become enamored towards the art without having previously applied to the diligent study of the scientific part of it may be compared to mariners who are put to sea without a rudder or a compass and therefore cannot be certain of arriving at a certain port.

So, try to develop the ability of looking into mundane things and to see beyond just their structure, appearance or weight. You must be able to correlate scientific thinking and the artistic manifestation into everything you see and create. This not only helps you maintain a balance in your work but also nurtures your ability of poised thinking. One way to do this is to engage yourself into Mind mapping techniques.

Mind mapping is whole new strategical approach to generate and organize ideas. Mind mapping is heavily inspired by Da Vinci’s approach to note taking. You can use mind mapping for goal setting, problem solving, brain storming and to resolve a whole new level of creativity burnout issues. With consistent application of mind mapping into your works, you may be able to achieve the level of thinking possessed by Leonardo. All you need to have to start off your mind mapping is a central topic, a pen and a sheet of paper.

Once you are ready with the ingredients, you can start off by following these points in the chronological order.

  • Represent your idea at the center of the page so that you have a 360° of freedom to explore about the central idea. Adding pictures and images is more effective than words and will enhance your ability to think creatively about your subjects.
  • Write down keywords. Michael Gelb says ‘Keywords are the information rich nuggets of recall and creative association’.
  • Connect the keywords with lines radiating from your central image. This allows you to visualize how one keyword relates to another.
  • Use colors pictures to mention and quote certain areas of your thoughts for more emphasis. Highlight important points and illustrate relationships between different branches of your mind map.
  • If possible, use large piece of paper. This allows you to spread your thoughts with cluttering and to think big.

Start practicing your mind mapping techniques with relatively lighter subjects like the idea behind your design’, or ‘chalking out ideas for your next blog post’ and so on. Once finished, review your mind map for possible mistakes and check your mind map for the correct application of the afore mentioned rules (guidelines, rather)

Mind mapping is a proven technique to strengthening your memory, balancing your brain and quickening your spirit of invention. Gelb believes that mind mapping is a simple, yet powerful way to cultivate synergy between art and science in your everyday thinking, planning and problem solving.

6) Corporalità

Corporalita is “the cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise“. Leonardo had amazing physical ability that complemented his genius in science and arts. Leonardo believed that the first step in achieving something is to have a firm mind, a good health and fit body. So, you need to make sure you reduce you workload whenever you get the chance and indulge yourself in some sort of an exercise and practise healthy diet every day. When your body is subjected to heavy work and continuous stress, your mind will be unable to think with its full potential and your results will deteriorate.

It’s quite amazing how many people associate high intelligence with physical ineptitude. Stereotypes of geniuses and geeks are mostly depicted in a very unorthodox manner with a skinny, 4 eyed people, always cramming their fingers on the keyboard. Contrary to what most of us think, the great geniuses of history were gifted with remarkable physical energy and aptitude, none more so than Da Vinci himself. An accomplished chef, he believed that a thoughtful diet was a key to well-being. He also cultivated a balanced used of both sides of his body. He gave extreme attention to symmetry. He used to paint, draw and write with both hands, thus enabling him to maintain balanced posture and thoughts.

Another way to enhance your creative skills is to develop ambidexterity. Try performing specific activities with your non dominant hand. Write with both hands simultaneously. Try combing your hair with your non dominant hand. Regular practice will help you develop an upright easy poise that encourages balance and grace in everything you do.

7) Connessione

Connessione is “a recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena“. This, in other words, is systematic thinking. One main source of Leonardo’s creativity is his ability to form new patterns through connections and combination of different elements.

During his time, many scholars criticized Leonardo’s works as being unorganized, having no index or contents, being cluttered in too many places, written in a random fashion and switching from topic to topic. But many of his followers believed that his sense of connectedness embraced a whole new level of connectivity and understanding. He did not have to write them in points or organize them because he saw how all of them were interconnected. Armed with vision, logic and imagination and an unrelenting desire to know truth and beauty, Leonardo probed the infinite subtlety of nature. Yet the more he learned, the deeper the mysteries became until he finally concluded that nature is full of infinite causes that experience has never demonstrated. Where science reached its limits, art took the lead. His ability to form a network of elements just with a few keywords was remarkable.

Leonardo was so overwhelmed and dumbfounded by the mysteries he could contemplate (but not penetrate), that he set aside his compass and pen and took up his paintbrush once more. So, when we look at his works such as his paintings, we are able to see how he transformed his thoughts that went beyond his experiences. Leonardo was the ultimate idea man, although his practical skills in many areas are unsurpassed, his greatest strength was not to be found in implementation (the reason being he was a chronic procrastinator).

This doesn’t mean you have to keep your sketchbook unorganized, but try to feel the connection of one word to every other. This is a very similar approach to mind mapping, however this is of a different level and completely different proportions.

Some of the various practices that involve connected thinking are :

  • Conjure ways to link things that seem unrelated. For example, you can try to find connections between an oil leak and the World Wide Web, or a camel and your shoes. This sort of practice helps you a lot in adding certain metaphorical depths to your designs (especially useful in logo designing).
  • Think about how things originate. Take an object and think about what elements are involved in its creation and how.

Setting SMART goals:

Michael Gelb suggests that to be able to develop a connective thinking, one has to set SMART goals. The word SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic and Timeline.

Specific – Define exactly what you want to accomplish in detail. This basically would be the aim of the project you’ve undertaken.

Measurable – Define how you measure your progress and most importantly how you would know you’ve ever achieved your goal. This can be accomplished by setting certain design metrics in your goals which include, deadline, day to day activity, adding checkpoints in your design projects and cultivating a hierarchical work ethics.

Accountable – Make a full commitment to be personally responsible for achieving your goal. At every checkpoint, once you’ve measured your progress, try to analyze whether you are ahead or lagging from the set deadline. Try not to procrastinate and make it a fact that you finish what you start within the stipulated time.

Realistic and relevant – Set goals that are ambitious but achievable. Analyze your capabilities, strengths and your weaknesses and set goals accordingly.

Timeline – Create a clear timeline for the achievement of your goals. Schedule your work properly and try to set plausible time periods for finishing each of your individual work and abide by it.

Adding the final touches:

Once you’ve done the entire mind mapping, perform a complete da Vinci review. Look at all the principles and analyze how you’ve employed them in your designs.

Curiosita – Am I asking the right questions?

Dimostrazione – How can I improve my ability to learn from mistakes and experiences? How to develop the independence of thought?

Sensazione – What is my plan for sharpening my senses as i age? How may I effectively utilize the best of my senses to achieve a high degree of perception and understanding?

Sfumato - How to strengthen my ability to hold creative energy and to embrace the major paradoxes of life. How do I remove any sort of ambiguity in my mind relating to my work?

Arte/scienza – How am I balancing art and science in my designs and my work. How do I approach my project in a scientific manner?

Corporalità. How can i balance body and mind? How do I make sure stress doesn’t hinder my progress?

Connessione -How does all of the above elements fit together? How does everything else connect to everything else? Even if there is a link that I do not fathom, I must be able to track it back via the interconnections.

Epilogue:

The essence of Leonardo’s legacy is the inspiration for wisdom and light to triumph over fear and darkness. In his never ending quest for finding truth and beauty, art and science were married through the ministry of experience and perception. His unique synthesis of logic and imagination of reason and romance has challenged, inspired and baffled scholars throughout the ages. The interest in Leonardo’s genius has continued unabated; experts study and translate his writings, analyze his paintings using scientific techniques, argue over attributions and search for works which have been recorded but never found. Because of the multiplicity of interests that spurred him to pursue every field of knowledge, Leonardo can be considered, quite rightly, to have been the universal genius par excellence. Man is as uncomfortable today, faced with a genius, as he was in the 16th century. Five centuries have passed, yet we still view Leonardo with awe.

Its quite inspiring to admit that history’s greatest Master of Science and art has achieved a status of myth. In an age of specialization and fragmentation, Leonardo da Vinci shines forth as beacon of wisdom, reminding us of what it can mean to be created in the image of our creator.

Some of Da Vinci’s works:

I have showcased some of Leonardo da Vinci’s works as a source of inspiration. Notice how he interconnects the finest details of art, science and even mathematical aspects into his paintings and drawings [courtesy of The Complete works of Da Vinci]

Visit this website for an exhaustive review of his drawings.

1) Crossbow Machine:

2) The Virgin and the Child with St. Anne

3) Leonardo’s conceptualisation of an Automobile

4) St. John, the Baptist

5) The anatomy of the human shoulder

6) Self Portrait in chalk:

Sources, References and further inspiration:

1) How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci – Michael Gleb (Amazon)

2) Leonardo da Vinci – Wikipedia

3) An excellent mind map of Leonardo’s principles

4) Learnings from Leonardo

5) More information on Michael Gelb

6) The complete works of Leonardo da Vinci

So, what do you think about Leonardo’s principles and his approach to tactical learning? Do you think you can employ such a technique and become like the maestro himself or do you think no matter how hard you try, there is no way one can come close to what Leonardo’s has achieved. Do you think geniuses are born or are they made? Let us know what you think and feel free to share your opinions and suggestions on this article. Good Luck!

Comments
57 Responses to “How to seek inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci”
  1. Rish says:

    What an amazing article man! I don’t see such great articles to often on the internet. Dugg, Stumbled, Shared, Tweeted, Saved, Bookmarked…*phew*. I guess that’s all I could do to help it reach the best people. Keep up the good work man! Best wishes :)
    .-= Rish´s last blog ..25 Examples of a Dreamy Rocks Photography =-.

  2. zip says:

    Great article !

  3. starr says:

    This is such a great post Richie. One of the best written and researched blog posts I have come across in a while and on such an amazing historical and influentional legend that is Da Vinco. Just tweeted and promoted it out now. Top one!
    .-= starr´s last blog ..Most Popular Design Links of the Week 31 May – 5 June =-.

  4. starr says:

    Sorry that should be Da Vinci!!!
    .-= starr´s last blog ..Most Popular Design Links of the Week 31 May – 5 June =-.

  5. Arun says:

    Was waitin for dis article for a long tym…and you did not disappoint…lookin forward to more amazing articles…keep rockin

  6. Wow…exhaustive. It will take me weeks, if not months, to put all that has been said into practice. But I’m sure it will be well worth the effort!

  7. The perfect article for inspiration and principles to live ones life by. Such a fascinating read. Thanks a lot for taking the time and effort to put this together Richie. Top notch.
    .-= Lucas Cobb Design´s last blog ..The Elements of Design =-.

  8. Really an amazing article, a wonderful post. The tips of this article are so helpful and supportive. Thanks for sharing the tips. I hope your readers take this info to heart and really profit from this information. Best of luck to you and them!

  9. Awesome!
    It was really nice post. Thanks a lot for sharing..

  10. Melody says:

    Cool, it seems like the same rules of research, evaluation, and implementation are still existent in design as they were way back when.
    .-= Melody´s last blog ..Don’t Worry, Design Happy! =-.

  11. sriganesh says:

    great and you have put really hard work on it ! have to read very patiently. bookmarked, in free time must read this, tweeted and SU
    .-= sriganesh´s last blog ..Freebie: Damask Patterns =-.

    • Richie says:

      Haha… take your own sweet time, Sri. We cannot even come close to Leonardo’s level… and definitely not in day.. whenever you feel like you are lost in the sea of obsurity, do visit this article and refresh your mind :D

  12. You cant see it; but, I am giving a standing ovation. Well done Rich. Loved the article.
    .-= Philip Brunner´s last blog ..Unarmed =-.

  13. Aidan says:

    Wow, such detail research and studies on the master of art, Leonardo da Vinci. I guess you must have spent a lot of times on this article.

    I need some time to read it! Thanks for writing!
    .-= Aidan´s last blog ..MySQL Has Functions (Part 1) : Date & Time Functions =-.

  14. Very well written and interesting article. There are definately a lot of usable points here, which may come in handy for a lot of people and especially designers.
    Thanks!

  15. jeprie says:

    Wow Rich, this is gotta be your best article ever written! I’m sure you do lots of research for this. I can’t read it all at once, my brain’s too small to handle this, but I’ve bookmarked this.

    I need to read this slowly.
    .-= jeprie´s last blog ..Menggambar Kamera Digital Realistis =-.

  16. found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

  17. Hilde says:

    Oh wow! Such an awesome and inspiring post.
    I was a huge Da Vinci fan before but this really nailed it. Thanks for taking the effort to do all the research and writing this! Great :D
    .-= Hilde´s last blog ..Artist of the week #4 – Guido Salimbeni =-.

  18. Wow! This has to be the longest and best design article I’ve ever seen! You must have spent hours on this post. Like others have said, I applaud you on your hard work.
    Ben
    .-= Ben l Awesome Wallpapers´s last blog ..Grunge Flag Wallpaper Set 7 =-.

  19. Rinchan says:

    Very well written article, must be lot of hard work and research behind this. it’s one of the best read for me in resent time… thanks for sharing your thoughts with all..

  20. wow…im really glad that i found this blog…im gonna tweet this…

  21. Ben says:

    hey Rich – really great post you covered everything here – Ive heard of smart goals useful stuff –

    cheers
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..80+ Awe Inspiring Bokeh Effect Photos =-.

  22. Juni says:

    Nice and Cool ….
    .-= Juni´s last blog ..Full details of iPhone 4 White [Video] =-.

  23. Somebody_who_cares says:

    “Sfumato can be described as “the willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox and certainty“.”

    Don’t you mean “uncertainty”?

  24. Suhela says:

    Leonardo da Vinci is one of my favourite artists… Going through this article has been very inspirational!! I had to read this article in free time to comprehend the the thinking of daVinci. :)

  25. The Da Vinci Code for unlocking the potential of the human brain on the route to self improvement.

  26. athmane says:

    A precious article very inspiring,
    Thanks u

  27. Carol says:

    A really fantastic article – why didn’t I come across it before????? This is inspiration at it’s height.. especially when you seem to be in a bad place in your head – maybe that’s why I didn’t come across it before… I didn’t need it then!!!! Thanks a lot for this.

  28. josh says:

    whoo sweet blog man this helped me so much for my report

  29. great write up. thanks for sharing!

  30. Adie says:

    I’ve only just stumbled across this article but it was a really great read. Some excellent points that can still be applied to design today.

    Love the sketches as well.

  31. Hello Rich – really great post you covered everything here – Ive heard of smart goals useful stuff

  32. ricky says:

    great article……keep it up

  33. Sanz says:

    The article is good. However, with all respect, “How to think like da Vinci” was a turn off . I read the book and it was alright… I mean, you’re not going to live your life according to what a book says. Also, if Leonardo were get to see this book… would he approve its content?

    Anyways, Leonardo was the best genius of all time. We should overwork our creativity and surpass its limits.

  34. Zeno says:

    WOW! Great article, Leonardo was a one of a kind genius, we all should learn from him. Thx mate for your work.

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  1. How to seek inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci…

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