"Learning never exhausts the mind" - Leonardo DaVinci
DaVinci for photographers?
Yes…and not only photographers. DaVinci can be an inspiration for every artist, every entrepreneur starting his/her own creative business. Two examples of Leonardo's influence are described further down the page.
Finding similarities and inspiration
Tears of joy crept into my eyes - why? I appreciated the beauty of his mind.
My chest filled with growing warmth - why? I recognized myself.
Whoa there cowgirl…
...am I crediting myself with the genius of Leonardo? No.
(Okay...let me own this one...maybe I am like DaVinci in a teensy-weensy-tiny way.)
Yet, I share commonalities…a love of learning…an interest in synthesis…a desire to know what makes the world work…a passion for elevating my work as an art and science. And, I know the heart is not the only way to access Mystery. DaVinci's works are a validation of the power of the mind.
And perhaps, this is why we are inspired by others? We see parts of ourselves within their lives, their work.
To be inspired by someone is certainly different than admiring someone. Inspired implies action. When we are inspired by someone we take action.
This has been true for me. Is it true for you also?
DaVinci's two examples
The first example is for all artists. Are you a photographer committed to elevating the quality of art in your photography? Then, read on...
DaVinci was committed to capturing emotional subtleties in facial expressions and eloquent gestures. Then he wove the two into complex, compositions that told a story. He "caught" the subject in motion. *
I think we can agree there is an element of humanness present in his paintings that is not present in the work of his peers. His ability to capture this humanness was the result of his unending, focused observations of people in daily life and in his anatomy studies.
Can we as photographers learn those same skills? Do we want to commit the time and energy it takes to develop, build, apply those skills in our own work?
Which leads to DaVinci's second example...
DaVinci's purpose - the second example
According to the interpretations of DaVinci's manuscripts, his purpose was to "to understand how nature works and make life better any way he could."
This purpose would certainly explain his diversity of interests; a more effective water wheel, pulleys that could lift enormous weight, fulcrums, catapults, urban planning to prevent disease, a more efficient olive press, war machines, submarines, underwater breathing apparatus, parachutes, gliders....a Treatise on Painting.
I do believe that he learned for the sake of learning...what new knowledge could he explore, understand, and ultimately, use? His power tool was deep and constant observation.
He chose to learn, synthesize, create and consider how his new knowledge would make life better in his world.
The benefit of a purpose that is paradoxically, specific - yet quite broad - is not being limited to a defined genre. DaVinci was not limited to his painting. He extended his thoughts, skills across a broad spectrum of life.
DaVinci was also eminently practical. He constantly add to his library of knowledge to become "expert" in many areas...thus ensuring a steady paycheck...all resulting from the fruits of his "purpose".
Sometimes artists/creative business builders confuse what they do with why they do it.
"I love to photograph happy people" - (a wedding photographer)
"I photograph dogs because I like animals" - (a pet photographer)
"I paint landscapes because of the light" - (an oil painter)
"I love to write books" - (a public speaker)
All well and good...but WHY? What is the underlying reason, value, intention, governing spirit that animates you?
What is at the core of your very being that will sustain your creative business-building when everything hits the dumper? (And, it will, in one way or another. And, probably more than once.)
Finding your "true purpose" and working from that purpose is what will keep you going; keep you driving forward. Your true purpose will also guide how you work, how you create something, and how you build your fellowship. (Fellowship sounds less overused than "tribe".) Purpose provides a constant source of motivation.
Your photographic choices, painting choices, writing choices are NOT the true purpose behind what you do. Purpose is much, much deeper.
How to find your purpose
Finding a purpose is more than looking for "what lights your fire." Because, as we all know, fires can burn out. Oops!
Your purpose is that "thing" that has been pulling you forward your entire life. That one thing you just can't quit. That one thing that shows up in every aspect of your life. Here's another paradox...even though it has been pulling you forward your entire life, you may not know it's "name".
And...you may not reach clarity about your purpose for quite a while. How will you know if "something" is your purpose?
Yes, ask twenty-five people what are three most important skills in which you excel. Not three things they like about you..."oh, you're such a nice person." You want a list of specific skills! And then you parse their answers, you group the answers. You think through, around, behind the answers.
This is what I learned when I did this exercise. EVERY single person noted the same three things; 1) I love to learn, 2) I synthesize information in a unique way, and 3) I'm not shy about sharing what I know.
And ...my purpose that I live is to learn, apply, and share. (Which is what I do right here.)
And those three things give me GREAT latitude to explore life, love, art, travel, business, excellence...my lived universe.
Can you do it? Can you ask twenty-five people to name three skills where you excel? And, can you work from those skills? Can you build, learn, think, create from those skills? Can you stay motivated because of those three skills?
May your day be filled with joy, laughter and may all your chocolate bunnies still have their ears!
Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure!
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Resources for this post:
* Fritjof Capra, 2007. The Science of Leonardo: Inside the mind of the great genius of the Renaissance.