A Pleasant Exercise
I find it incredible how certain images or views get stuck in our minds. It’s as if the brain can function just like a camera – all you need is to concentrate on what you see and to take in every detail.
One early autumn evening we were traveling along the road and I saw a scene that simply had to be recorded. I had no camera and the car was going too fast, so I decided to take a “mental image” that could later on be transformed onto a canvas.
I guess I was just practising one of da Vinci’s exercises – sensazione.
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Sensazione is “the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience”. According to da Vinci, we can best practice sensazione through our senses, particularly sight. That’s why one of Leonardo’s mottoes is saper vedere (knowing how to see) upon which he built his work in arts and science. Here are some ways to apply sensazione:
Write detailed description of an experience. For instance, describe your experience of watching a sunrise in your journal.
Learn how to describe a smell.
Learn to draw.
Listen to different sounds around you. Learn to listen to different intensity of sounds from the softest (e.g. your breathing) to the loudest (e.g. traffic).
Live in the moment. Practice mindfulness.
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Imagine a yellow field, I guess it was just a meadow that had changed it’s colour, with dried grass slightly moving in the wind. Above it, a clear blue sky with some purple streaks, as if an artist had used some pastels, and just of the side – a young and almost see through moon. It was very beautiful and would have made a perfect photo, but I could only promise myself to come back home and paint a quick sketch, that could later on be turned into something bigger.
Did I keep my promise? No. Luckily for me I somehow managed to “lock” this view up and retrieve it after several weeks.
It certainly isn’t a masterpiece, yet it reminds me of the beautiful evening. The colours aren’t right, there’s no perfectly round moon, the field looked different… So lets say it was just a pleasant exercise of sensazione.
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Information for this post found Wikihow.