I’m pretty sure that you’ve heard of Leonardo da Vinci, the 15th century artist most famous for painting the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. But maybe you didn’t know that he was also a sculptor, engineer, architect, and inventor. In fact, despite Leonardo’s wizardry with a brush, only 15 paintings have been attributed to him. Not exactly remarkable output for the original renaissance man.
The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.
— Leonardo da Vinci 1452–1519
In his notebooks, Leonardo wrote backwards, using a technique called “mirror writing,” but that’s a topic for another post.
So, why so few paintings in a lifespan of 67 years? Was it his fascination with the foot? Doubtful. I think it’s because he spent way too much time doodling (and learning how to write backwards).
That’s right, da Vinci was a doodler. He left behind 13,000 pages of notes loaded with detailed drawings and doodles.
In fact, in 1994 Bill Gates paid over $30 million for da Vinci’s Codex Leicester — A 72-page collection of scientific writing and illustrations. It could be the most expensive doodle collection in history.
To be sure, Leonardo’s sketches shouldn’t be compared to the Crayola scribbles of a 6-year-old. And many would argue that his drawings aren’t doodles at all, but highly detailed technical illustrations. Yeah, okay. Whatever. I just think it’s cool that he liked to design stuff, like me. And maybe you.
A few da Vinci doodles
Click any image below for larger view.
What’s a doodle?
A doodle is a drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied. Doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be composed of random and abstract lines.