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  • Writer's pictureKaren Queller

Channeling Your Inner Da Vinci

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

Leonardo da Vinci, the original 'Renaissance Man', is widely regarded as one of history's greatest minds. Beyond his artistic brilliance, Leonardo's insatiable curiosity, relentless pursuit of knowledge, and multidisciplinary approach offer valuable lessons for our society today. How can his life and work inspire and guide us in navigating the challenges and opportunities of our modern world?

Leonardo's insatiable curiosity fueled his wild accomplishments across various fields. He constantly sought to expand his knowledge and explore the wonders of the world. He cultivated a mindset of lifelong learning and embracing curiosity as a way of being in the world. Leonardo always reminds me of my grandpa in that sense. My grandpa lived with us for 15 years. During this time, I'm pretty sure he read through the Encyclopedia (those books with information that were around before Google came along) just about every day until he died at 93. Now that is what I aspire to.

Leonardo epitomized the fusion of art and science, recognizing their interconnectedness. His ability to blend aesthetics with scientific inquiry enabled him to create masterpieces and make groundbreaking scientific discoveries. He knew how to connect the dots that nobody was connecting at that time. In our increasingly specialized world, Leonardo reminds us of the power of interdisciplinary thinking and the potential for innovation that lies at the intersection of different fields. This interdisciplinary approach is exactly what makes Expressive Arts Therapy special. Integrating ideas from various disciplines allows for cross-pollination of ideas, leading to innovative thinking and discoveries.

Leonardo's approach was characterized by experimentation, exploration, and a willingness to embrace ambiguity. He saw failures not as setbacks but as valuable opportunities for learning and growth. In a society often driven by perfectionism and the fear of failure, we can draw inspiration from Leonardo's resilience and his ability to turn setbacks inspiration towards our next steps forward.

Leonardo's dedicated observational skills allowed him to study the natural world with immense detail. He emphasized the importance of careful observation, seeing beyond the surface, and delving into the essence of things. As the story goes, while Leonardo was working on the portrait of Lisa Gherardini (the Mona Lisa), the wife of Florentine merchant Francesco del Giocondo, he would often spend hours meticulously studying her features. He would observe her expressions, her subtle movements, and even her personality, trying to capture the essence of her being on canvas. In our fast-paced digital age, developing this ability to be fully present, observe, and appreciate the richness of our surroundings can help us feel connected to all that is, keeping us grounded, aligned, and attuned with the flow of the universe.

Leonardo's imagination knew no bounds. He was a visionary and didn't care if his ideas seemed crazy. Leonardo's fascination with engineering and mechanics was a source of both admiration and skepticism. He designed intricate machines, like automated knights and mechanical lions. When these marvels were presented to his peers, reactions ranged from awe to disbelief. Some viewed his creations as mere curiosities, unable to understand their practicality. But Leonardo kept going, laying the groundwork for extraordinary breakthroughs. In a world that often values conformity and practicality, Leonardo's emphasis on nurturing our imaginations encourages us to dream big, think outside the box, and pursue innovative solutions to complex problems.

To tap into your own inner Leonardo and cultivate your creativity, try the following exercises:

1. Curiosity Notebook: Create a dedicated "Curiosity Notebook" to document your observations, questions, and ideas. Carry it with you wherever you go and use it to record anything that sparks your interest—a building, a man feeding a cat, a beam of light, a quote. Let your curiosity guide you and jot down any questions that come up.

2. Daily Sketches: Set aside a few minutes each day for quick sketches. You don't need to be an artist—just grab a pencil and a blank sheet of paper. Observe your surroundings and capture simple objects or scenes that catch your eye. Embrace imperfections and focus on the process rather than the outcome. Allow your sketches to reflect your unique perspective and creativity.

3. Multidisciplinary Exploration: Select a topic that fascinates you and dive into a multidisciplinary exploration. For example, if you're interested in astronomy, read books on the subject, watch documentaries, visit a planetarium, and go stargazing! Take notes on what you learn and make connections between different disciplines to gain a holistic understanding.

4. Failure Celebration: Shift your perspective on failure by reframing it as a stepping stone to growth. Embrace the "Failure Celebration" exercise to rewire your mindset. Choose a small project or task to tackle. Give yourself permission to try something new, and regardless of the outcome, celebrate the effort you put in and the lessons learned. Write down your reflections and insights gained from the experience.

5. Sensory Exploration: Engage in sensory exploration to enhance your observational skills. Take a walk in nature or visit a bustling market. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes around you. Capture your observations in your Curiosity Notebook, using descriptive words and vivid imagery. Cultivating sensory awareness can deepen your connection with the world and inspire your creativity.

6. Divergent Thinking: Practice divergent thinking—a technique used by the master himself. Choose a problem or challenge you're currently facing and generate as many possible solutions as you can. Let go of constraints and embrace wild and unconventional ideas. They can be silly, stupid, completely 'impossible'. Don't worry about their actual probability and just explore. Write them down without judgment or evaluation. Embracing divergent thinking can unlock innovative solutions and stretch your creative boundaries.

7. Collaborative Creativity: Invite others to join you in a collaborative creative session. Gather a group of friends, family members, or colleagues and do a creative activity together, like a group painting session or a collaborative storytelling exercise. Notice what ideas come about that wouldn't have been present if you were working on your own.

Embracing your inner Leonardo is about leading with curiosity!!! Be hungry! Approach life like a grand creative, research project. Don't be scared to fail and keep following your questions wherever they take you.

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1 Comment

Rina Queller
Rina Queller
Jun 14, 2023

I like that you give practical suggestions on how to implement channeling your creativity!

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