da Vinspiration 500

Posted by on May 2, 2019 in Uncategorized | No Comments

May 2, 2019

And now for something completely different….On the 500th anniversary of his passing, we celebrated the genius of artist, scientist, entertainer and all-round polymath, Leonardo da Vinci. In the spirit of da Vinci’s relentless cross-disciplinary creative curiosity, guests enjoyed hands-on experience stations, da Vincian style entertainment, short talks / demos, and some light refreshments. Though classified in Eventbrite as a “Seminar or Talk” this was actually an evening that defied conventional definition. From professional artists demonstrating sfumato painting and iPad / AR technique; to a renowned harp performer and teacher playing renaissance music on a Dusty Strings 36 string lever harp similar in size and tonality to harps of the Renaissance; to experts in their fields sharing the latest in medical tech and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Old met new, art met science. Plus there was a fun Vitruvian Instagram photo op (shown in Daniel Kraft’s animated gif he took of me that you see above). This was truly a memorable and stimulating experience.

Location: Jeremy Sutton Studios, 1890 Bryant St,
Date & Time:Thursday, May 2nd, 2019, 7:00pm – 11:00pm
Next one will be May 2nd, 2020 (the 501st anniversary…wear your Levi’s 501s!!)
Cost: $15.19 – chosen after the year of da Vinci’s passing, 1519.
Dress code: informal, anything goes, but for those who like dressing up a bit, there was a prize for the best “da Vinci-inspired / Renaissance chic” dressed!

Schedule & Video Documentation

7:00 – 7:15 – Harp music

7:15 – 7:30 – Intro & Welcome (and a little break dancing!)
Your host, Jeremy Sutton

7:30 – 7:35 – Harp music

7:35 – 8:05 – First presentazione –
Fahad Jalal, High Tech Entrepreneur and Investor
Da Vinci’s Artificial Intelligence
Da Vinci broke down each human behavior (physical, emotional, intellectual) and tried to recreate the isolated behavior via sketches and machines. Fahad looks at where this thinking has led so far in AI and recognizes the role Da Vinci may have played as the inspirational father of AI.

8:05 – 8:15 – Harp music

8:15 – 8:35 – Second presentazione –
Jeremy Sutton, Live Event Painter, Founder of PaintboxTV
iPad da Vinci & Augmented Art
Jeremy painted a quick portrait on the iPad and demonstrated augmentation of his printed images using the apps HP Reveal and Kaleido.
8:35 – 9:00 – Harp music

9:00 – 9:30 – Third presentazione –
Daniel Kraft, MD Faculty Chair for Medicine, Singularity University – Founder and Chair, Exponential Medicine
Beyond the Vitruvian Man: The New Renaissance in Medical Innovation…
Hold onto your seatbelts for this wild ride through the exciting new territory of medical innovation!

8:30 – 9:45 – Harp music

9:45 – 10:00 – Fourth presentazione –
Lynn Michel Taffin
Live Renaissance Music
Lynn is a San Francisco based harp performer and teacher. She has worked with some of the foremost teachers of the harp both in the United States and in Europe where she toured with orchestras and chamber ensembles. She has collaborated with artists from around the world including Zakir Hussain on projects for Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet. Lynn played a beautiful 36 string lever harp, manufactured by Dusty Strings in Seattle, which is similar in size and tonality to harps of the Renaissance.

10:00 – 10:15 – Harp music

10:15 – 10:35 – Fifth presentazione –
Peggy Gyulai, Painter of Music
Infinite Shades of Sfumato: the Smokiness and Mystery of da Vinci’s Oil Technique

10:35 – 10:55 – Conclusione & Thanks, plus best “da Vinci-inspired / Renaissance chic” dressed award (Jeremy)

Featured Guest Artists

Tracy Victoria Starr
Charged Series
Fractal burns on wood, created using 2,000 volts of electricity – painting with lightening. These artworks illustrate the universality of branching systems, as noted by da Vinci, such as trees, roots, blood capillaries and river deltas.

Charles Stinson
Devices of Dubious Utility From the Museum of Post-Truth Artifacts
Art objects that include knots and humor, two of da Vinci’s pet topics.

Sabrina (The Sabby Life)
DaVinci Paints The Mona Lisa, VR art by Sabrina (The Sabby Life). This virtual reality painting was completed 100% in Google Tilt Brush over three months. You see, in three dimensions, Da Vinci as he paints the Mona Lisa with Lisa del Giocondo sitting as his model. In this Da Vinci Virtual Reality demo you could wear the Oculus Rift and explore the artwork within Tilt Brush yourself.

Diego Fonstad, Imagination Supply Co
Mechanical Models of da Vinci’s Drum Machine and Cam Hammer


Capture Your Own Vitruvian Moment! (plus a little Tilt Brush Exploration)

Build Your Own da Vincian Self-Supporting Bridge
Make your own self-supporting bridge based on Leonardo’s design. Thanks to the Brightworks School students for initiating the concept of this project; to Diego Fonstad for his laser cutting, even when I supplied too thick wood (against his advice!); and to Benjy Young for use of his band saw.

Explore Painting on the iPad with Procreate
Guests had fun diving into iPad painting!

Explore the Augmentation of Artwork on the Wall

Solve the Mystery of the Missing Salvator Mundi
Leonardo’s (?) quarter of a billion dollar masterpiece, Salvator Mundi looks like it ended up… above my desk!:-)

Write in your Notebook
Everyone received a da Vinspiration A6 notebook, a homework handout (yes, there was homework!!:-)) and da Vinspiration pen. In the welcome notes they were asked to, amongst other things, list ten things they wanted to learn about, following in da Vinci’s footsteps.


What a da Vine evening. I truly feel Vinspired, and da Vincible! My da Vinspiration notebook is sure to be brimming with content soon. I found the guests and presenters engaging, and I absorbed much information in my 3.5 hour visit.

So, I am now part of the da Vinci fan club. da Vinci and myself do have a wonderful thing in common. He had an intense love for animals. He would buy songbirds from the market, just to set them free (which I would do). And…. he was a Vegetarian.

Thanks for the enlightening evening.

See you around town,

Thanks & Acknowledgements

Huge thanks to all who participated, helped and contributed to this event! Thank you to the speakers Fahad, Daniel and Peggy for preparing so thoroughly and so generously sharing their insights and knowledge; to Lynn for her fabulous music and being an essential part of transforming the atmosphere to one with overtones of half a millennium ago; to guest artists Tracy, Sabby and Charles for loaning their wonderful and inspiring work; to Diego and Benjy for being crucial help and support in making the self-supporting bridge project a reality; to Diego again for his beautifully designed and crafted models; to Chuck for spontaneously helping people with the VR and Tilt Brush set up; to Wesley for manning the front door and welcoming attendees to the building; to Sarah for coming along early to assist; and to Peggy and Simone for helping so much in preparing my studio for the event; and Simone, in addition to all the work she did in prep, also for being a great assistant throughout the evening and welcoming people as they arrived at the studio and making sure they received their da Vinspiration notebook, homework handout and pen!

A Note on Accuracy

Historical accuracy not guaranteed..as world da Vinci expert Professor Martin Kemp said: “the Turin old man (image on which the da Vinspiration poster is based) is not a self-portrait, and sfumato is not L’s own term for a technique of painting”. Many thanks to Professor Kemp for his input, rigour and taking the time to help with attention to detail.

Recommended Reading

Leonardo da Vinci By Walter Isaacson

Leonardo By Martin Kemp

How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci By Michael J. Gelb

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