Artists as Writers: The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci (Volume One)

Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Click here to buy the Kindle Edition

Click here to read it on Google Books

Click here to read about Jean Paul Richter, the man who translated da Vinci’s writings.

To begin, I read the Kindle edition of Volume One and when I hit halfway, the Kindle erased what I already read and my notes.  In other words, I may have missed something in the process when I skipped ahead to where I think I originally left off.

After reading volume one, I feel like I have become the Star Child.

My God, it’s full of details!  From bodies to eyesight to nature, he left nothing behind.  It felt like he tried to find the secret to the universe itself.  Furthermore, this volume consists mostly of how to render bodies and nature with perfect anatomical measurement.  Speaking of measurements, he will write about them over and over ad nauseum.

He also writes about proper art styles, colors, and eyesight.  He also emphasizes the joy of learning things on one’s own as opposed to just learning from books.

To start, da Vinci’s writing runs the gamut from dry and repetitive to passionate and poetic.  If you do not like details and repetition, but still want to read di Piero’s writings, I recommend buying an abridged version of his work.  This goes double for people who do not like to read run-on sentences.  Update 4-13-2018:  I remember reading the book out loud to some people, and they commented on the writer’s little quirk.  By the way, this man had opinions and he did not hold back.  Especially when it came to painting and how it compared to other mediums.  However, I think if he lived now, he would have directed movies and/or designed video games.  He would have had the mindset to do so.  One touching moment comes from the way he encourages potential painters and how he does not want anything them to do by things by halves, but go all the way.  My favorite section comes from when he teaches how to create a battle scene.  He did not just want to capture people fighting, he wanted to capture dust flying and the agony from everyone involved.

One negative aspect of this book came from the fact that it had no illustrations.  However, if you have patience, you can buy this for free on Kindle or read it via Google Books.

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