Dear Creative Ones!
I am still mulling over this whole idea/connection between Art – Creativity – and Creative Thinking – Visual Thinking – Genius/ideas outside the box, solving problems, seeing new solutions, etc. I recently ran across this book, “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci – Seven Steps to Genius Every Day,” by Michael J. Gelb, and realized that I had not read it yet! It was in my “stack” to read. What perfect timing!
Can we apply da Vinci’s approach to learning and increase our own potential?
Here is some background on Leonardo: Leonardo’s mother was a peasant from a tiny village near Vini, 40 miles from Florence, Italy. His father was not married to his mother. He was a prosperous accountant and notary of Florence. Leonardo was taken away from his mother to live with his grandfather when he was only 5 years old. He would not be able to follow after them in their careers as he was born out of wedlock, so he became an apprentice to Andrea de Verrochi, a sculptor/painter. Leonardo’s skills and work grew to an impressive level which led to connections with patrons who introduced him to philosophers, artists, mathematicians, and many other people in different fields. After 6 years, he joined a guild of a variety of physicians and others in the medical field as well as artists. (Before cameras, artists drew the pictures and visual images.) Leonardo studied the human body.
Things were not always easy for Leonardo. When he was 24 years old he was accused and arrested for sodomy. The charges were eventually dismissed. He moved to Milan. It was there he created the “Last Supper.” Leonardo had a wide variety of interests and studied lots of different subjects. Leonardo was an artist and an inventor of flying machines, parachutes, bicycle, snorkel and many other inventions. He was a military engineer drawing plans for weapons not deployed until 400 years latter – armored tanks, machine guns, guided missiles, and submarines which he designed to keep peace not to start wars. He was a scientist of anatomy, botany, geology and physics.
What do all of these things have in common or at their root? The ability to think creatively. The ability to imagine. And the ability to observe nature carefully in detail and in depth which connected to creative ideas and inventions.
This book is so inspiring! Here are the” 7 Steps to Genius”:
1. CURIOSITY – Children have this naturally. Great minds continue to be curious. Ask lots of questions. Study things from a multiple perspectives. Keep a journal with your ideas, impressions, observations. Leonardo is known for his notebook that contained everything in it all together – from jokes, stories, thoughts, reflections on personal life, plans of inventions, sketches of anatomy, botany, etc., lots and lots of sketches and doodles, illustrations.
2. COMMITMENT TO TEST KNOWLEDGE THROUGH ACTUAL EXPERIENCE
Instead of on preconceived ideas or knowledge and beliefs from the present world view and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
3. CONTINUAL REFINEMENT OF THE SENSES
Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell are keys to opening doors of experience – especially sight. Drawing and painting with observation i increases our ability to see.
Leonardo was also an excellent musician. He played the flute, the lyre, and other instruments. He was a composer, and singer as well.
“The average person looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking.” Leonardo da Vinci
4. WILLINGNESS TO EMBRACE AMBIGUITY, PARADOX, AND UNCERTAINTY
5. BALANCE BETWEEN SCIENCE AND ART, LOGIC AND IMAGINATION. Whole – brain thinking
6. CULTIVATION OF GRACE,AMBIDEXTERITY, FITNESS & POISE
This includes exercise, aerobic, strength, and flexibility along with fresh, natural diet.
Leonardo was known for his poise, grace, and athleticism.
7. RECOGNITION & APPRECIATION FOR THE INTERCONNECTEDNESS OF ALL THINGS
To realize and to see connections between things of different things to form something new
Examples: an oak leaf and a hand, a laugh and a knot, bowl of minestrone soup and us… etc.
These kinds of practices develop this thinking that leads to creative thinking and new ideas.
This was a fascinating read about not only the amazing Leonardo da Vinci, but about thinking and applying what he learned and practiced to our lives so we can live more creatively.
I would highly recommend the book, but if you just want a simple “take away” for today:
DRAW & PAINT – IT WILL DEVELOP YOUR ABILITY TO SEE
OBSERVE THINGS CLOSELY
ASK QUESTIONS – LOTS OF THEM
PRACTICE SEEING THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN UNRELATED THINGS
THEN KEEP A JOURNAL OF IT ALL – WHAT YOU ARE THINKING, LEARNING, SEEING, DRAWINGS AND DOODLES, QUESTIONS, OBSERVATIONS, , CREATIVE SOLUTIONS AND IDEAS.
You are on your way to thinking and finding creative ideas and solutions – GENIUS! You DO have it in you!
What will you draw or paint today? What will you observe? What questions will you ask?