Da Vinci’s Muse

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Feature January 2009

January 1st, 2009 · No Comments · Featured Musings, Home

Da Vinci’s Art and Womanhood

“It is the Year 2009 of our Lord, this Third Day of the Month of January. I am alone. I hear no words from the mouths of great artists of my time. Their work is done. Mine is now coming to call.”

Isabella d’Este
The First Lady of The Renaissance

The Renaissance period was a time of a beautiful explosion in the world of ideas, artistic and scientific, across all fields from Painting to Politics to Poetry and Prose.

Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was a man of great enquiry both in the fields of Art and Science. He was an Italian Renaissance architect, musician, inventor, engineer, sculptor and painter. He also helped advance the study of anatomy, astronomy, and civil engineering. He raised questions about the nature of existence. And he was prolific. He has been described as the archetype of the “Renaissance Man” and as a universal genius. Leonardo is famous for his masterly paintings such as The Last Supper and Mona Lisa. Recorded in his notebooks, comprising some 13,000 pages of notes and drawings, he fused Art and Science.

Da Vinci asked questions about the physical workings of life. Da Vinci’s Muse asks questions about the identity of Womanhood and its purpose. The Vision Statement of Da Vinci’s Muse is to create a means through which all women can come into the light of their own calling, a kind of Renaissance, and be able to ground that light in a shared communal understanding leading toward greater well-being and empowerment.

Below Da Vinci shares with us, from his artistic world, the difference between painting and drawing from which we may be able to discern a perspective upon our lives and a choice we may want to make, metaphorically–the first conscious step toward our own Renaissance as women.

Through his Muse, Da Vinci writes these words of advice as “The Course of Instruction for an Artist:” (Let this be read with an open mind toward learning to master the artistry of our lives in understanding the nature of our own womanhood. The pronouns have been replaced in the original manuscript from masculine to the feminine “She” in order to perhaps make this excerpt more transparent.)

“The youth should first learn perspective, then the proportions of
objects. Then she may copy from some good master, to accustom herself
to fine forms. Then from nature, to confirm by practice the rules she
has learnt. Then see for a time the works of various masters. Then
get the habit of putting her art into practice and work.

To the end that well-being of the body may not injure that of the
mind, the painter or draughtsman must remain solitary, and
particularly when intent on those studies and reflections which will
constantly rise up before her eye, giving materials to be well
stored in the memory. While you are alone you are entirely your own
[master] and if you have one companion you are but half your own,
and the less so in proportion to the indiscretion of his behavior.
And if you have many companions you will fall deeper into the same
trouble. If you should say: “I will go my own way and withdraw
apart, the better to study the forms of natural objects”, I tell
you, you will not be able to help often listening to their chatter.

A painter needs the absence of all companions who are alienated from her studies; her brain must be easily impressed by the variety of objects, which
successively come before her, and also free from other cares.

And so, since one cannot serve two masters, {as a Painter} you will badly fill the
part of a companion, and carry out your studies of art even worse.

{Though}, I say and insist that drawing in company is much better than alone.”

What is the artistry of Womanhood?

A woman’s life has always been about connection, so to separate ourselves from our intrinsic identity in order to have the ability to reflect upon our identity more objectively has not been an easy task. The importance and value of connection as a primary purpose of womanhood: the roles of lover, mother, companion, volunteer, family and community organizer, etc… have been paramount in our lives. With the feminist movement opening the door to economic independence and freedom of lifestyle choices, women have become through our own sort of evolutionary unfolding, more easily able to discover our unique identities as women artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, etc. Our ability to enter the work force has given us greater choices in our lives as well as a means toward our own self-protection, and through increased choice, increased stress. It has also superimposed a masculine model of development and purpose to our lives that may not be in our best interests.

A woman’s life is about connection, so to follow and have the necessary discipline to hear a unique and distinct inner voice is difficult. The choice revealed in Da Vinci’s excerpt above indicates the talent and conviction needed to become your own master.

Drawing, on the other hand, is easier and more enjoyable. Drawing is the process for connective sharing. Drawing allows for a space to be created whereby a social sphere predominates and can be fostered in all its beauty and entanglements. Painting is an act of courage.

Here lies the first step toward making a conscious choice toward embracing the truth of your identity, which once made, enables a birth or celebration of self-ownership as the result of objective self-reflection.

It is the choice to either become a unique voice in the world with a special vision or to embrace the vision of yourself as a woman of connection. These are not mutually exclusive choices, nor are they fundamentally different, both reveal the woman Muse as messenger, whether through the birth of a child or the birth of a manifested vision and both are as important yet in a different way. For the mother, the connection is intimate and personal as the woman who nourishes the life of those around her while learning to nourish herself; for the visionary, the connection is transversal and claims no other responsibilities than the duties of her own manifestation. This separation from the experience of biological motherhood may be seen as a blessing and a curse: free from the cycle of life and its continuation with its responsibilities, releases immediate concerns from the mind to reflect on other matters, though an emotional void may linger. However, either choice made allows you to see yourself in making choices or to choose both, though with more difficulty as Da Vinci writes, “one cannot serve two masters.”

The answer:  to embrace Womanhood first, as your Light, Child, Art, Vision and Work as One, which is to embrace yourself and design a balance that is right for you. Yours is not the masculine model of worth, to solely go forth and do. Yours is the nature of spiritual being, a spiritual center, its meaning, manifestations and nurturing. Revel in the life that is yours.

As Da Vinci’s Muse reveals, it all begins with the eye:

Definition of Perspective
“Drawing is based upon perspective, which is nothing else than a
thorough knowledge of the function of the eye. The perception of the object depends on the direction of the eye and {in that} the point is unique of its kind.”

It all begins with the eye and perspective as well as natural and developed talent. So how do we practice the perspective of looking at ourselves as “woman”, reflecting about ourselves as women? We begin by practicing the art of asking questions.

{In either case, there is} “the necessity of anatomical knowledge.”

We are Women.

So the physical life of a woman begins with her body. Her physical life is a reference point to herself and life itself. What kinds of questions do we ask? What answers are we seeking? Is it a result or a process?  Becoming conscious of our light as women is another step in the empowerment of women.


What questions do you have about the body? Are there any questions you would like us to focus on in the future?

[contact-form 19 “Body Questions”]

The New Renaissance Woman is then a woman who sees with fresh eyes the new world around her to offer her enquiries into the meaning of her own life and truth so to reveal her destiny and bring it forward in celebrating its value. We are the Master Painters of our own lives and we shall assist other artists in their vision as well as maintain an expansive and beautiful room for drawing.

Nourish, Question, Discover, Transform, and Cherish.