Thoughts on Art and Exercise #graphiteart #drawing

I have been struggling to figure out what I want to do with the arts. I have recently been reading some of the notes contained within Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks and have been reflecting on his views on what it means to be an artist. I personally believe that humans are different from other living things because we are able to create. If there is one attribute that should define humanity it should be the ability to create. I was reading one of my favorite authors, Hemingway, in his book Green Hills of Africa, and I began to reflect on something he mentioned about being a writer. He stated, not in these exact words, that any endeavor taken for the purpose of financial gains will lead to subpar work. He goes on to mention an author whose work became subpar as he fell into the demands of the public. I think this is true of anything that we do. We must do it because we love it and because we can. In a world filled with utilitarian principles and a capital-driven society we must not fall into a trap of creating for the sake of monetary means, nor should we yield to the popular opinions, but stand firm in what we believe and do. I also understand that most artists do not have the privilege to live strictly by this principle as we all have to make money somehow to support ourselves. I have recently been studying under a phenomenal artist, and I hope that under her I will be able to be as good as she is someday. I was never formally trained, so I am hoping that her guidance will allow me to tap into the discourse of the artist. She has recently given me a few exercises to work on and so I use what I have learned to work on a few things.

Graphite on newspaper print: Goose Feathers


Leonardo da Vinci practice using H pencil on vellum paper

I have been recently reading some of the stuff contained in Leonard da Vinci’s notebooks and have been enjoying learning about his philosophical take on the arts. One of my favorite passages is when he describes the difference between the poet and the artist.

“Now consider which is the more damaging monstrosity, to be blind or to be mute. If the poet, like the painter, is free in his inventions, [the poet’s] fictions are not as satisfying to men as paintings [are]. For, while poetry extends to the figuration of forms, actions, and place in words, the painter is moved by the real similitudes of forms to counterfeit these forms. Now consider which is a closer examination of man, his name or his similitude? The name for man varies in different lands, and the form is mutated only by death. And if the poet acts through the senses by way of the ear, the painter [does so] by way of the more worthy sense of the eye. By these [comparisons] I only wish for a good painter to figure the fury of a battle, and for the poet to write something about it, and for both [of these battles] to be put before the public. You will see which will stop more viewers, which they will consider longer, which will be give more praise, and will satisfy more. Certainly the painting, a great deal more useful and beautiful, will please more.” Leonardo da Vinci

I thought it would be fun to try to imitate  one of his drawing using pencil as an exercise. I know it is not perfect by any means, but I enjoyed the process.

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