Leonardo da Vinci - Creativity and Art
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Italian painter, sculptor, architect and engineer from Vinci, Tuscany (pictured right).
A big rival of Michelangelo (pictured right below).
His most famous paintings are...
- The Last Supper (1495-8).
Why was he so creative?
1. Curiosity and experimentation
His motto was saper vedere (“knowing how to see”).
- believed sight was the greatest of the senses, because it most accurately conveys the
facts of your experience.
- described himself as a “disciple of experience”.
- valued observation and attention to detail.
He was incredibly curious and brilliant at experimentation.
2. Learning and self-discipline
He never stopped learning, because he loved it so much.
He learned from:
- experience (particularly his mistakes).
- continual questioning of existing knowledge (what?, how?, and why? were his favourite
- Andrea del Verrocchio (pictured right) ,one of the best teachers of painting and
sculpture in Florence.
- seeing the interrelationship between art, mathematics and science.
Leonardo believed that:
- an artist needs geometry to draw
- the scientist needs to draw to illustrate his inventions.
3. Creative imagination
Leonardo is famous for the imagination and feeling he put into his
He thought that an artist should draw not only people but also their feelings (e.g. Mona Lisa’s
smile, pictured right).
4. Challenging goals
He always gave himself really difficult things to do.
Leonardo (pictured right in a self-portrait) believed in clear and creative
His vocabulary was great and vivid, but he believed that drawing was a much more powerful
communicator than writing.
He had two careers as an artist/sculptor and scientist/engineer, and his work in one helped his creativity in
He loved doing new and different things to broaden his experience.
- had lots of time and freedom to think and be creative.
- avoided unimaginative, routine work.
8. Concentration and hard work
He was totally absorbed in his work, balancing thought and action.
Some days he painted the Last Supper (1495-8), pictured right, from dawn until dusk.
Other times he would just stare at it for three or four days, trying to find faults in
what he had painted.
9. Customer satisfaction
He painted pictures for others to admire, and his new machines (like an improved printing
press) were always more efficient and easier to use.
His love of learning and creativity gave him boundless energy and
Key quotes on learning and
Iron rusts from disuse...so does inaction sap the vigour of the mind.
Wisdom is the daughter of experience.
Key quote on the learning
He who thinks little, errs much.
Key quote on education and
Study without a liking for it spoils the memory.
Key quotes on
Every obstacle yields to stern resolve.
Being willing is not enough; we must do.
One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.
Key quote on the past, present and future
Be not false about the past.
Key quote on
As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so a life
well spent brings happy death.
Key quote on
If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.
Key quote on
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.