The Da Vinci Notebooks at sacred-texts.com
How to acquire practice.I say that first you ought to learn the limbs and their mechanism, and having this
knowledge, their actions should come next, according to the circumstances in which they occur in man. And thirdly to compose subjects, the studies for which should be taken from natural actions and made from time to time, as circumstances allow; and pay attention to them in the streets and piazze and fields, and note them down with a brief indication of the forms; 234 thus for a head make an o, and for an arm a straight or a bent line, and the same for the legs and the body, 235 and when you return home work out these notes in a complete form. The Adversary says that to acquire practice and do a great deal of work it is better that the first period of study should be employed in drawing various compositions done on paper or on walls by divers masters, and that in this way practice is rapidly gained, and good methods; to which I reply that the method will be good, if it is based on works of good composition and by skilled masters. But since such masters are so rare that there are but few of them to be found, it is a surer way to go to natural objects, than to those which are imitated from nature with great deterioration, and so form bad methods; for he who can go to the fountain does not go to the water-jar.
246:234 5: Lines 5-7 explained by the lower portion of the sketch No. 1 on Pl. XXXI.
246:235 7: Lines 5-7 explained by the lower portion of the sketch No. 1 on Pl. XXXI.
246:236 : This passage has been published by Dr. M. JORDAN, Das Malerbuck des L. da Vinci, p. 89; his reading however varies slightly from mine.