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Creative Genius - Leonardo da Vinci

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

Who was he? Most people know him as an artist and a scientist; however, he's more than that. We can also call him: inventor, architect, engineer, writer, musician, scientist, anatomist, botanist, urbanist, geologist, geographer, mathematician, military theorist, philosopher, and physicist. He is one of the most creative geniuses, who was seeking for answers and expressing his imagination in exceptional works. Variety of disciplines that he explored made him and his ideas far too ahead of his time.


In 1452, an illegitimate baby was born in a village called Vinci and his name was Leoanrdo. As a bastard, he couldn't go to school, but his father was supportive as the young genius was growing up. He was an inquisitive self-taught kid whose classroom was in the countryside. At his young age, he fell in love with nature and his creative adventure began.

His first art teacher was Andre del Verroccio. In his studio, Leonardo learned a variety of technical skills, including painting, metalworking, carving marble statues, leather arts, carpentry, drawing, and sculpting. His talent was developed thanks to his curious mind and also through experimentation.

In a few years, da Vinci surpassed the master. At the age of 20, he qualified for a membership as a master artist in Florence’s Guild of Saint Luke. Soon, he established his own workshop and became very successful. So many brilliant ideas filled his mind, making it troublesome for him to execute all of them. He happened to be sued for getting paid by a patron, and then not finishing his work, as promised.

In his life, Leonardo was dedicated not only to art, but also to scientific studies and different commissions from influential people. He had an enormous number of friends both in Florence and Milan. His close friends were a diverse group: mathematicians, engineers, architects, playwrights, and poets. That diversity in friends and numerous fascinations helped shape him.

As many great geniuses, Leonardo had an enemy. He and Michelangelo were both very popular and they truly hated each other. That’s because they were opposites in personality and art. They even had a fight once.


As a child, Leonardo played games of war together with his brothers. He imagined being triumphant in battle. Later in his life, he designed many war machines such as a war chariot, an armored tank, a machine gun, a multi-barrel gun and even an enormous crossbow. It was an exciting and dangerous way of expressing his creativity; however, he stopped sketching new deadly weapons as he saw the brutality of the war with his own eyes.

Using his inventive mind, he also designed other inventions: revolving bridge, self propelled cart, helicopter, flying machine, parabolic compass, parachute. Many of them were inspired by nature. For example, a flying machine was based on the anatomy of a bat. Not every one of them could work, but all of them are proof of his great imagination.

Art creation

Three of his works were in bad condition or destroyed. The first is “The Last Supper” which deteriorated rapidly because he had used tempera over a ground that was mainly gesso. The second one is “The Battle of Anghiari”. Leonardo experimented with a thick undercoat that made paint to drip. The last one is “Gran Cavallo”. It was intended to be the largest equestrian statue in the world but the clay model was destroyed.

What is the lesson from that? Should Leonardo put less time and efforts into his masterpieces? Shouldn’t he experiment with new techniques? No, as a creator, make sure that your work has strong fundamentals. Experiment as much as you want to but when you invest a lot of time and effort, make sure that it won’t be defeated. Despite all these failures, da Vinci still had passion for exploration and creating new ideas and works. He stayed curious until the end of his life.

Work habits

Leonardo was in no hurry. He was working very slowly at his project but with a lot of contemplation. Some of his projects took him even a few years to finish; unfortunately, many of them weren’t completed. In the case of "Mona Lisa", it was forever a work in progress as it was Leonardo’s attempt at perfection and he never parted with the painting.

On the other hand, he put so much passion into his creations. To make a painting of a dragon, he studied bats and lizards. To present realistic anatomy, he dissected human and animal bodies. He even sketched facial expressions of people he passed in Florence. In addition to his anatomical investigations, da Vinci studied botany, geology, zoology, hydraulics, aeronautics and physics. He always carried his notebook where he made sketches and notes. His preparation, studying and contemplation were the main parts of creation.

Leonardo's creative exercise

Leonardo thought that everything is somehow connected. We can associate different things and phenomena. This exercise aims to stimulate your creativity. Here's what you have to do: take two objects and find as many connections as you can in 3 minutes. Finding numerous abstract associations will improve your creative thinking.

Creative Mind of Leonardo da Vinci

Curiosity - an insatiable curiosity and an unquenchable thirst for continuous learning, an aspiration to understand the bonds between all things and phenomena. Leonardo is passionately curious about everyday phenomenon that most of us quit questioning.

Practice - love of creation, making use of your creativity in practice, persistence and being ready to experiment and learn from your mistakes

Sensuality- sharpening the senses to enhance sensations. Stop for a moment, contemplate and feel the world around you, and later live full potential of your creative life

Ambiguity - readiness to accept the ambiguity of the paradox and uncertainty, get used to the unknown

Long term multitasking - doing many projects and learning how to keep them in balance, trying different fields to use your whole brain. To be really creative, you have to be interested in all sorts of different disciplines rather than be a specialist just at one.

Creative legacy

Leonardo da Vinci left only about 15 masterpieces and also, about 7000 pages of his notebooks. He became one of the greatest inspirations for humanity.

Nowadays, you can study his life at the museum in Cloux Castle near Amboise or read his great biography written by Walter Isaacson.

References and additional information


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