Welcome to this issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback to info@alessandra.com!

Artistic Genius - Leonardo daVinci

Our society is moving toward a view of artistic genius that is both new and old. It is new in the sense that truly incredible tools and technologies are now available for creative work. It is old because our present view of the artist's place in society has much more in common with the Middle Ages or the Renaissance than with the 19th or early 20th centuries.

To make this clear, and to help you connect with the creative elements in your own character , which you may or may not have recognized in the past , our focus in this session is on a true genius who really exemplified the times in which he lived. Leonardo da Vinci, along with Michelangelo, is generally recognized as the quintessential artist of the Renaissance.

Here at the start of the 21st century, we are getting rid of the idea that a creative person is someone who wears a beret and lives in a garret. The model of the isolated artist will not work anymore. In this sense, Leonardo is probably much more relevant to the circumstance of your life than you might think.

Leonardo was born in the small Italian town of Vinci, in the year 1452. He began life with certain obvious advantages, and some disadvantages. His father was a rather wealthy country gentleman. His mother, however, was a servant girl whom his father had no intention of marrying. In later life, he would describe himself as a "man with no education."

When he was about 14 years old, Leonardo was sent to Florence to become an apprentice in the studio of a prominent artist. The artist's name was Andrea del Verrocchio, and he was both a painter and a sculptor. Leonardo learned a lot from this first master. And around 1470, after being with Verrocchio for about four years, Leonardo got a big break. He was assigned to paint an angel in the corner of one of Verrocchio's major commissioned works. According to legend, when Verrocchio saw the angel he realized it was infinitely better than the rest of the painting. In fact, it was so much better than anything Verrocchio had ever done that he gave up painting forever, right then and there. This legend may or may not be true, but the young artist from the countryside was definitely on his way.

Right now, as the most basic element of modeling artistic genius, I would like you to recognize exactly what artistic genius is. It is simply taking a picture that is in your heart and using some medium to move it into the hearts of other people. It does not matter what that picture is, and -- at least initially -- it does not matter how technically adept you are with the medium you have chosen.

Leonardo had incredible technical skill. His ability for drawing and sculpture was truly superhuman, and he was extremely adept at the mechanical and engineering tasks demanded by large-scale creative work.

Your artistic genius does not have to be in the fields of drawing of sculpting; it does not even have to be technical. Your skill is in whatever attracts you, whatever moves you to express your creativity, even if it is just another form of personal expression that you do not intend to show anyone else.

Here's to more personal insight,


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daVinci at a Glance

Born: April 15, 1452
Died: May 2, 1519

Noted works:
The Madonna of the Rocks (1483-86)
The Last Supper (1595 - 1497)
Mona Lisa (1503-1507)
St. John the Baptist (1513-1516)

Plato in Raphael's The School of Athens painting is believed to be based on daVinci's likeness. In the painting, Plato is pointing toward the sky; the pointing finger was a noted feature of daVinci. In daVinci's own work, St. John the Baptist, there is a noted pointed finger.