leonardo da vinci’s self-doubt

leondardo da vinci

From our friends at A+B See:

In a review of Leonardo and the Last Supper in the January 14, 2013 issue of The New Yorker. we learn that in his time, Da Vinci had a reputation for being a “dilatory and even unreliable worker whose career was strewn with abandoned projects.”  According to author, Ross King, he was as hard on himself as we can be, moaning to his diary, “Tell me if I ever did a thing.” When the commission for the Last Supper came in, Da Vinci was juggling work on a giant bronze horse (never finished), various flying machines, and a joke book.  For a genius, he was, it appears, quite human.

This from the man who painted the Mona Lisa and defined the term “Renaissance Man”!

We want to send this to all the very brilliant, worthy, endlessly-creative people we know who doubt and judge themselves mercilessly. We wonder if self-doubt is a necessary driver of the creative. Is it possible to make without losing faith, vision, heart in the midst?

What’s your view?

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6 Responses to leonardo da vinci’s self-doubt

  1. Andrea Raisfeld 03.06.2013 at 7:53am #

    Thank you, Sally, for sharing this. When I came across this little note in the New Yorker, it gave me such a kick. Sometimes we don’t know that what we’re doing has any value until many years–or millennia–

  2. Alison Harris 03.06.2013 at 12:06pm #

    Hi Sally,
    Many thanks for this! Doubt is all part of it. Warmest from the land of Descartes. alison

  3. Nancy Schremser 03.07.2013 at 10:58am #

    I so appreciate this post and can totally relate to it. I was born with a creative spirit and have always enjoyed creating beauty. I was headed to art school after high school but got derailed by unexpected things. I have always felt like an artist but I feel like I can’t really label myself as such because of the lack of formal training. My family encourages me and tells me to put myself out there but my own self doubt always holds me back. I can relate to De Vinci and his plight. I feel that along with self doubt , fear of rejection also plays into it as well. I will continue to create and hopefully I will make the big leap to share my art with others. Thank you for your encouraging post.

  4. jody 03.07.2013 at 11:38am #

    the thing is, i think that all humans are pure creative energy, whether we define ourselves this way or not – and so for me it is a bigger question (of course :)) – as we live our lives, why do so many of us doubt, judge, question ourselves mercilessly?

    perhaps the more consciously we engage the creative process, the more the doubt, judgments and questions arise, creating a kind of tension that is the birthing process of new ideas and ways of being.

    i recently came across a quote that i thought was interesting by relationship experts, Layne and Paul Cutright that might be relevant.

    “We live and make choices in the dynamic tension created by the evolutionary impulse of the higher self and the survival impulse of the biological self.”

    sally, in the end i am taking my cue from you and thank you for all your encouragement and inspiration – for all you imagine, suppose, suggest, tempt, invite in the “what if”, “why not” , “what the heck”, “flip in around”, “maybe”, “make mistakes”…fail and fail better

  5. Sally 03.07.2013 at 12:45pm #

    I guess you’ve sort of defined part of the mission of ‘the improvised life’, Jody. To keep REMINDING that the doubts and judgements are normal, and that there are many ways to shift OUT of them, shift our vision, questions them, do things anyway.
    Thanks for your thoughts and your great quote.

  6. Sally 03.07.2013 at 12:48pm #

    I am glad the post resonated. Just a thought though: sometimes a ‘big leap’ takes the form of one small step, or a serious of small steps toward what we want to be doing. And I know from experience that many small patient steps, even two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back can get us where we want to go. Keeping making your art, and at some point, I hope you will share it.

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