It’s good exercise every once in a while to get lost in the interwebs and experience again the feeling of immense potential-knowledge of the early Internet. A great way to do that is browsing through any of the huge catalogs of books freely available online. A few days ago I rediscovered A Treatise on Painting, by Leonardo Da Vinci, and felt blessed for being able to read it in the original language.
Some of Leonardo’s suggestions are applicable only to painters, like when he recommends you to look at your creations through a mirror, so to introduce an element of unfamiliarity and spot mistakes on your work, or when he advises not to fall asleep immediately when you go to bed, but to spend time re-imagining things seen during the day to better impress them on your memory.
But here and there he also drops really great tips for any Maker. Here are some:
On the way you should study. Concentrate first on the science [aka the theory], and only then continue with the practice that is born out of that knowledge. A painter should study with method and not leave anything out that is not impressed on the memory.
Precept for the painter. A painter who doesn’t doubt her own ability, impairs her growth. When your work succeed beyond the judgment, you will acquire nothing; but when the judgment is superior to your work, you will never cease improving if the love of improving does not delay your progress. [Which is essentially what Dunning and Kruger got a Nobel for almost 500 years later]
On not imitating another painter. Painters should never imitate the style of another, otherwise they will be grandchildren of nature, and not its children. Things in nature are so abundant that you should rather look at nature itself, rather than to the Masters that learned from it.
And now for bonus points, the whole book: