Lessons in Creativity from Leonardo DaVinci

There are three classes of people: Those who see. Those who see when they are shown, and those who do not see.”    Leonardo DaVinci.

Leonardo DeVinci, sculpture, artist, statue, photo, creativityLeonardo DaVinci’s genius across the multiple disciplines of painting, sculpture, architecture, aeronautics and engineering creates an array of opportunities to study his creative processes. Given the multitude of open-ended possibilities to explore and come to understand the natural world, engaging both individual creativity and collaborations with others, gives us the broadest possible spectrum for addressing and thinking through simple to complex problems.

Outlined below are some of many ways to engage your own creative exploring and expression in nature and those of your children.

  1. Be relentlessly curious about everything. Ask a lot of questions. Admit you don’t know the answer; you are searching for it. Become distracted. Follow an interest. You don’t know what will lead to unexpected discoveries.
  2. Seek out knowledge for its own sake. Exploring because you want to know will broaden your search and expand your thinking, help forge new connections, and take you to places and discoveries you may have not thought of.
  3. Observe details one step at a time. Study one part intently until you feel complete and  move on to another part. See the unseen. A leaf has many parts: its stem, veins, leaf, color, size, texture and shape. Observe the leaf before you consider what tree did it come from and why is that tree surviving (or not) in this place?
  4. Procrastination can be good.  Simmering can be helpful to let facts, ideas and questions blend.  Giving space to think can help  identify unseen or unknown connections
  5. Avoid silos. DaVinci was a genius across multiple disciplines. Blend the arts, science and humanities when observing and pondering the natural world. Look for different ways to express ideas and answers to questions or solutions by building connections between the disciplines.
  6. Think like an inventor. Step back and take the time to imagine and wonder the next step: What could happen if …? What could this look like if…? How did this happen? What if I turned it upside down?
  7. Learn from others. Share each other’s brilliance. DaVinci believed creativity is a collaborative effort.
  8. Take extensive notes and make a lot of lists. DaVinci’s drawings and notes continue to provide insight to his ideas and inventions.
  9. Be open to mystery.His ability to combine art, science, technology, humanities and imagination, remains an unending source of creativity.” (1)

As Leonardo DaVinci’s lifestyle and and creative practices suggest, we can benefit from not knowing the answer all the time, and be willing to engage cur creativity, ask questions to explore our natural world in more detail; to imagine, consider facts and think differently.


(1) “Learning from Leonardo,” Time Magazine Special Edition, The Science of Creativity, 2018.