The Da Vinci Initiative believes that students should be able to make the art that is in their heads and hearts without compromising due to lack of skills to execute their ideas.
To help children gain access to technical art skills and methods, The Da Vinci Initiative was co-founded by Art Renewal Center CEO Kara Lysandra Ross, and certified art teacher and atelier-trained artist Mandy Theis (Hallenius) to promote skill-based training in K-12 classrooms.
“As atelier training fell out of favor in the early 20th century, fewer places were available to study these essential visual literacy skills,” says Mandy Theis. “Because of this, most art teachers today have never heard of atelier training or had exposure to it during their college educations. Only now, with the resurgence of ateliers that teach hundreds of years of inherited artistic information, do art teachers even have access to this training.”
Teaching atelier skills in K-12 classrooms not only aligns with current educational research, but it also enhances the number of choices students can make when creating their own work.
Like teaching rhythm, tempo, and scales in music class so that students have many tools to express themselves through music, so too is there a need for a skill-based education in the visual arts. By learning solid draftsmanship, color theory, paint handling skills, perspective, etc. students can expand their own toolbox for visual expression.
Skill-based art training in classrooms
To accomplish their goal of skill-based art training, The Da Vinci Initiative offers online classes and free K-12 lesson plans. These lesson plans train teachers who may be unfamiliar with certain technical art skills, and provide a direct atelier learning experience for K-12 students in art classrooms.
The Da Vinci Initiative sends ambassadors who are knowledgeable in atelier training to teacher conferences across the country. They also host in-person district-wide workshops for K-12 art teachers. “In my experience, teachers love learning and when I work with art teachers across the country to expose this re-emerging knowledge, they embrace it with enthusiasm,” says Mandy Theis.