May

30

 I was reading Da Vinci's notebooks recently, and was intrigued by his method for learning to paint. I thought it might be interesting to try to adapt his model to learning to trade. I'm not sure how useful my little Saturday afternoon research has been but it was fun. Listed below is the sequence Da Vinci recommended for young men to learn how to paint, followed by my own interpretation of the general learning outcomes, and then their trading applications.

Leonardo Da Vinci's model for learning to paint, from his own notes:

1. Imitate a masters work — best to imitate an antique.
2. Draw objects from relief but not from memory.
3. Familiarity of the human form — seeing each muscle in every possible position.
4. Do stick drawings from nature and expand them at home.
5. "Thus I say to you, whom nature prompts to pursue this art, if you wish to have a sound knowledge of the forms of objects begin with the details of them, and do not go on to the second [step] till you have the first well fixed in memory and in practice."
6. Keep the company of people who share the outlook of being mirror like in their observations. If such people cannot be found then keep your speculations to yourself.
7. "I myself have proved it to be of no small use, when in bed in the dark, to recall in fancy the external details of forms previously studied, or other noteworthy things conceived by subtle speculation; and this is certainly an admirable exercise, and useful."
8. "Winter evenings ought to be employed by young students in looking over the things prepared during the summer; that is, all the drawings from the nude done in the summer should be brought together and a choice made of the best [studies of] limbs and body."
9. He is a poor disciple who does not excel his master.
10. "Some may distinctly assert that those persons are under a delusion who call that painter a good master who can do nothing well but a head or a figure. Certainly this is no great achievement.
11. "Nature has beneficently provided that throughout the world you may find something to imitate."
12. The mind of the painter must resemble a mirror.
13. "When, Oh draughtsmen, you desire to find relaxation in games you should always practice such things as may be of use in your profession"
14. "The sorest misfortune is when your views are in advance of your work."


General Learning Statements:

1. Copy the work of someone who has done great work before.
2. Copy the actions of a master.
3. Look at each part of the work and see every permutation and how it fits with the other parts.
4. Do basic models of the whole process, to practice.
5. If you wish to have a sound knowledge of the task or subject then study the details and memorize them and practice them.
6. Don’t become clouded by other peoples views and thinking processes.
7. "I myself have proved it to be of no small use, when in bed in the dark, to recall in fancy the external details of forms previously studied, or other noteworthy things conceived by subtle speculation; and this is certainly an admirable exercise, and useful.
8. When 'out of season' you should study past actions and commit them to memory and learn from them.
9. Look to excel past the people you learn from, but without arrogance.
10. Always learn and practice all elements of your skill.
11. Look in other areas of your life and world opportunities to learn and transfer observations to your study.
12. Only observe.
13. Make games that will help you learn better your skill.
14. "The sorest misfortune is when your views are in advance of your work."


Stock Market Learning:

1. Read the works of Soros, Jesse Livermore, William O'Neill, Warren Buffett and Nick Darvis.
2. Choose one and copy exactly what they do.
3. See each stage they go through to reach their conclusions and the actions they take and the inferrences they derive from the outcomes.
4. Pick stocks and plan out the course of action and all the permutations of what will happen in all price scenarios and put them into practice.
5. Memorise the details of the great coups and all the rules the masters have made in trading.
6. Keep all your trading a secret and don’t let others' views interfere with your own. Keep your mind totally on the facts at hand and the details of what you see.
7. Before going to sleep look at the coups of other traders and of your own. Talk with the masters you are studying and meet them in your mind for interviews.
8. When the markets are not open or the market isn't acting right for you then study past trades and memorise the actions you took and piece together the trade again looking for the lesson.
9. Be a better trader than your teachers and ask yourself how you can do better.
10. When you have practiced and 'perfected' position entry, move to exits, patterns, money management, probability theory, etc..
11. Look at situations and look at them as you would a trade. What would you do? Are there any interesting things to learn here that can be used in the markets?
12. See what's happening rather than guess.
13. Play games like the one played in Liar's Poker, where you invent scenarios and ask each other what you would do in that situation. E.g. nuclear explosion in Tokyo…
14. Be aware of views you are taking on a trade. Look at it always as if it’s the first time you have seen it and review an open trade every day as if you have just placed it.

Mike Ott adds:

When I read this post, the comedy a capella singing group Da Vinci's Notebook (and their most famous song) popped into my head. 

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