Why so few paintings?
You’re no doubt familiar with 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 his wizardry with a brush, only 15 paintings have been attributed to him. Not exactly remarkable output for the original renaissance man.
So, why so few paintings in a lifespan of 67 years? Was it his fascination with the human foot that distracted him? Doubtful. Did he waste too much time writing backwards? Possibly. But I think it’s because he spent way too much time doodling.
Leonardo da Vinci
“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”
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.
“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.”— Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519
A few da Vinci doodles
Click any image below for larger view.
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.
What’s a doodle?
According to Wikipedia, 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 — generally without ever lifting the drawing device from the paper, in which case it is usually called a “scribble.” Huh.