Monday, November 10th — Sfumato

November 11, 2008

Today I Learned…

…an excellent word.  Sfumato is from the Italian sfumare — to evaporate — and describes a painting technique developed and perfected by Leonardo da Vinci.  Sfumato involves using many very thin, delicate coats of paint blended together to give the illusion of form.

I came upon this word in the context of an article entitled “How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci,” which applies a more philosophical meaning to the word — the ability to embrace ambiguity and paradox.  The author suggests that you learn this ability through thought exercises; think about being in the ambiguous situation of having applied for a job but not knowing whether you got it or not — or think about how your happiest and saddest moments are related.  There are many other steps and concepts outlined in the article, most of which I think are extremely worthwhile to attempt and emulate.  Check it out.

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