Righting the Vessel of Tradition

What Would Leo Do?



The mind of the painter must resemble a mirror, which always takes the colour of the object it reflects and is completely occupied by the images of as many objects as are in front of it. Therefore you must know, Oh Painter! that you cannot be a good one if you are not the universal master of representing by your art every kind of form produced by nature.

(This is oft quotes by the Copyists Consortiums as proof positive that Leonardo endorsed the mimetic copying of nature. Of course it is taken out of context and presented under false pretense. A quick read of the rest of this notation shows that he is not talking about copying nature but learning from it. Leo’s telling the, would be, painter to understand the nature of things apart from their outward appearances.)

And this you will not know how to do if you do not see them, and retain them in your mind. Hence as you go through the fields, turn your attention to various objects, and, in turn look now at this thing and now at that, collecting a store of diverse facts selected and chosen from those of less value.

(He recommends collecting and storing the important major aspects of things and ignoring the details.)

But do not do like some painters who, when they are wearied with exercising their fancy dismiss their work from their thoughts and take exercise in walking for relaxation, but still keep fatigue in their mind which, though they see various objects [around them], does not apprehend them; but, even when they meet friends or relations and are saluted by them, although they see and hear them, take no more cognizance of them than if they had met so much empty air.

(If one takes the time to look at Leo’s drawings they will see he drew the unseeable. He drew turbulent air, rushing water, roaring lions. He didn’t ask nature to stand still so he could copy it, far from it, he tasked the artist with understanding the nature of things.)

The Venerable Society of Arts and Artists will present a constant dialogue with Leo, Mike, others to “right the vessel’ and keep traditional teachings real and unadulterated.

Leonardo Da Vinci, Leda and the Swan

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