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Leonardo's Notebooks
by Leonardo da Vinci, ed H. Anna Smith

I got this out of the library and had it out so long I renewed it twice and then turned it in a month overdue. Eeep! I find the private notebooks of authors and artists to be exceptionally interesting and inspiring places to play.

I love da Vinci and this was great insight into the way his mind worked as well as into what appeals to me most. I found myself drawn much more to the landscapes, buildings, and objects. So many more straight lines and definitive strokes compared to the curve-filled portraits and action-filled battle scenes. What was interesting was also the commands in the written notes he left himself. Things like "The air must be full of arrows in every direction, some shooting upwards, some falling, some flying level." and "The light must be arranged in accordance with the natural conditions under which you wish to represent your figures...." He puts a few "might"s in there as well, but there are a ton of "must"s.

Anyway, these two quotes jumped out at me from a writer's standpoint:
"The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies every thing placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence."

"Of studying in the dark, when you wake, or in bed before you go to sleep: I myself have proved it to be of no small use, when in bed in the dark, to recall in fancy the external details of forms previously studied, or other noteworthy things conceived by subtle speculation; and this is certainly an admirable exercise, and useful for impressing things on the memory."

This one is also great for lazy people like me:
"He who suffers time to slip away and does not grow in virtue: the more one thinks about him the sadder one becomes.
No man has a capacity for virtue who sacrifices honor for gain. Fortune is powerless to help one who does not exert himself."

If you like Leonardo da Vinci or are at all interested in art, philosophy, and culture this is definitely a book to check out! Just don't keep it out quite as long as I did *blush*


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