“It is an acknowledged fact, that we perceive errors in the works of others more readily than in our own.” — Leonardo da Vinci
Is this an accurate statement? For master artists – maybe. How about the rest of us? I don’t know about you, but the only thing I see in my work are mistakes. There seems to be no worse critic than ourselves.
I suspect that Leonardo’s treatise was for masters like himself. He gives us a hint when he continues…
“A painter, therefore, ought to be well instructed in perspective, and acquire a perfect knowledge of the dimensions of the human body…”
Ah…those are essential basics of any artist and compliment each other. If you have those techniques in your toolbox, you should have the ability to see errors. The problem, then, is recognizing your own.
Leonardo gives us some further insight into the skills of a painter.
“He (the painter) should also be a good architect…”
Leonardo qualifies how “good” we need to be.
“…at least as far as concerns the outward shape of buildings…”
We don’t have to be a Brunelleschi. We do, though, have to understand the basic structure of buildings. We’d suggest this idea also applies to the basic structure of a painting as well. This structure is what Tom calls the “Architectonic Laws” which he teaches in Master Class.
Next Leonardo offers help if you aren’t a master of these elements.
“…where he is deficient, he ought not to neglect taking drawings from Nature.”
The last chapter of his treatise is: “That a Man ought not to trust to himself, but ought to consult Nature.”
Why do you think Bill spent so much time observing nature? We can find all the answers to the questions we should be asking about art in nature.
No one was more observant and questioning about the world than Leonardo. He may have been the first person to ask the question, “Why is the sky blue.”
That simple question established the foundation of the concept of aerial perspective. It confirmed the order of color from distant objects to those closest to the viewer. These are principles that every artist must know to master the craft of art.
Once you’ve mastered the principles, Leonardo suggests a way to observe and comment on your work differently. Look at your work through a mirror. Your work will look like another artist’s work.
Leonardo offers one final tip.
“It will be useful also to quit his work often, and take some relaxation…”
Do you take frequent enough breaks? You’ll recall, Tom made the same suggestion in a video clip we posted a while back.
Why do this?
Leonardo says that if you quit your work often, your judgment will be sharper when you return to the canvas.
“For too great application and sitting still is sometimes the cause of many gross errors.”
Master your craft. Take breaks. Become the best artist you can be.
Master Class is ready when you are. Click here for more information.