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Online courses created to bring skill-based art education to K-12 classrooms.
Online courses created to bring skill-based art education to K-12 classrooms.
196 backers pledged $10,933 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$10,933

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The Da Vinci Initiative is officially endorsed by the Washington Art Education Association.

To read about the DVI in the Huffington Post, click here.

To read about the DVI in Fine Art Connoisseur, click here. 

To read about the DVI in the Epoch Times, click here. 

The full course will be 30 videos at about 10 minutes a piece. That is approximately 5 hours of material! To view a lesson from the online course, click here.

The Da Vinci Initiative, a division of a 501C3 non-profit educational foundation, is a mission for visual literacy in our contemporary world. The goal of The Da Vinci Initiative is to provide skill-based learning in art education in order to deepen the understanding and applications of the visual language that surrounds us.The Da Vinci Initiative believes that art can be taught and that teaching skills enhances student creativity. Teaching realist based art skills such as those implemented by Da Vinci and Michelangelo not only align with current educational research that other subjects currently embrace, 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 a student has 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. The Da Vinci Initiative’s aim is to enhance visual literacy for both teachers and students. One important way we are hoping to do this is by creating online courses that teachers can take for continuing education credits in their respective states. These courses would give teaches advanced training in skill-based art education that is not included in normal public art education practices. The courses would use a studio based model that include critiques from highly trained professional artists who incorporate skill-based techniques in their work. Along with the online course we would develop K - 12 lesson plans that  incorporate the newly acquired skills. The online courses would be provided at a subsidized rate and the lesson plans would be free to certified teachers, homeschooling parents, and the general public via our website.

Da Vinci Initiative lesson plans meet National and Common Core Standards. By developing a series of cross-curricular lesson plans, The Da Vinci Initiative links together the visual arts with subjects such as Math, Science, and Literature. Each lesson encourages a child’s creativity while asking them to analyze what they see and apply it in a variety of different exercises. 

Click on the below image to see an example DVI lesson plan. Lesson plans associated to this kick-starter will be directly correlated to the online courses we will be creating:

Scroll down below our landmarks to learn more about skill based training in the visual arts and its benefits.

Funding amounts are as follows:

$8,500 - The funding we are asking for is enough to make one online course with the accompanying K - 12 lesson plans. - ACHIEVED!

If we receive additional funds…

$14,500 - This is enough to make two online courses with the accompanying K - 12 lesson plans. (If more donations come in but the second landmark is not met we will use the funds to create a few shorter educational videos on different ways to use skill-based training in classrooms K-12 which we will post for free to the public on our recently started YouTube channel which can be found by clicking here. We already have some ideas for these including a video on how to construct a low budget and collapsible controlled light box for classroom use. An image of which you can see below in this picture from the NJ educational conference we went to earlier this month.)

$20,000 - This is enough to make three online courses with the accompanying K - 12 lesson plans.

$26,000 - This is enough to make four online courses with the accompanying K - 12 lesson plans.

$44,000 - We can send DVI Ambassadors to attend 5 State Educational Conferences to make teachers aware of the online courses and free lesson plans we are providing and help spread the word about how skill-based training can be implemented in K-12 classrooms.

$60,000 - We can send DVI Ambassadors to attend 10 State Educational Conferences to make teachers aware of the online courses and free lesson plans we are providing and help spread the word about how skill-based training can be implemented in K-12 classrooms.

$77,000 - We can send DVI Ambassadors to attend 15 State Educational Conferences to make teachers aware of the online courses and free lesson plans we are providing and help spread the word about how skill-based training can be implemented in K-12 classrooms.

$94,000 - We can send DVI Ambassadors to attend 20 State Educational Conferences to make teachers aware of the online courses and free lesson plans we are providing and help spread the word about how skill-based training can be implemented in K-12 classrooms.

$127,000 - We can send DVI Ambassadors to attend 30 State Educational Conferences to make teachers aware of the online courses and free lesson plans we are providing and help spread the word about how skill-based training can be implemented in K-12 classrooms.

$160,000 - We can send DVI Ambassadors to attend 40 State Educational Conferences to make teachers aware of the online courses and free lesson plans we are providing and help spread the word about how skill-based training can be implemented in K-12 classrooms.

184,000 - We can create a DVD about the importance of skill-based training, its benefits, and provide an example course for teachers and how it can be used in K-12 classrooms. 

267,000 - We can give away hundreds of the DVI DVDs to teachers at the teacher conferences we will be attending. 

$350,000 - We can give tens of thousands in scholarships to teachers to attend our online courses as well as our already established DVI skill based training courses hosted at atelier and academy schools around the USA. 

Any amount we receive higher then this will go towards the continuing efforts of the DVI to spread skill-based training in the visual arts around the USA. 

What is Skill-Based Learning?

Skill-based training is a method for teaching visual art where students are introduced to skills that build on each other in order to intelligently translate objects into drawings, paintings, and sculptures. This includes being able to sensitively interpret three-dimensional subjects into two-dimensional artworks. In cases of sculpture, students work in a medium such as clay to better understand subjects and their construction in three-dimensional spaces. Just as in music where each new skill requires an understanding of the previous skill in order for the student to learn more advanced material i.e. students must learn how to play notes before a song, The Da Vinci Initiative advocates for art classrooms to use this same teaching theory in order for young artists to achieve high levels of technical and expressive competence. For example, in a self-portrait art project, students can first learn how to find accurate angles of lines in the face, combine many found lines to describe the mass of the head, and then build on these skills to combine ideas of proportion, shading, planes of the face, etc.

The Da Vinci Initiative believes that the most creative children are those who have many skills in their tool belts from which to pick from and utilize in their own unique artwork. Additionally, The Da Vinci Initiative believes that art students should not have to compromise their artistic ideas due to lack of technical skills, and that skill-based learning is one of the most effective methods for teaching technical skills.  

 
Benefits of Skill-Based Learning Include…
  • Continuity in Education: Skill-Based Learning requires a targeted teaching approach so that teachers can better assess what technical skills students can learn, and at what developmental stage pupils can learn them. With clear assignments where children execute specific tasks, continuity is gained in art education. When clear objectives are presented for what a student should learn from a day's lesson, teachers can measure how and what the student is actually learning. Skill-based training allows for accurate assessment of whether a student has learned the objectives for the lesson being given.

  • Historical Awareness: Skill-based methods have been used to teach art since before the time of ancient Rome and continued to evolve throughout the 19th century. A strong foundation in classical training techniques engages students in history by exposing them to art of the past and the training methods that were spread from generation to generation throughout human history. By teaching these technical skills, students can more deeply understand how historical artworks were created. They can also glean greater insight into the artistic choices of paintings that are very much a mainstay in contemporary culture, such as Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa. Classical training teaches history to students through the application of traditional art-making techniques.

  • Visual Intelligence: It is important to note that skill-based training at its core forces the human brain to advance its visual intelligence. It is one thing for students to be able to recognize objects in the world around them and it is another for students to be able to break those objects down into specific abstracted shapes, lines and values. By teaching students how to break objects down and reconstruct them in a different dimension, students gain advancement in their visual perception and therefore their visual intelligence is increased. Think about the last time you saw an apple for example. Do you remember whether it was taller or fatter? Was the color more neutral or chromatic? Or do you simply remember it as a symbol of an apple? Imagine all of the rich depths of life students gain by learning how to read, and then imagine how similarly, acute visual literacy can enhance students’ experiences of the world around them.

  • Eye-Hand Coordination: Skill-Based Learning builds eye-hand coordination in a deliberate fashion that engrosses children in creating specific lines and shapes as well as fine motor skills that are easily applicable to many aspects of life. When a specific skill is taught in art classrooms, such as finding the angle of a line, students are often wildly inaccurate at first. When an inaccurate line angle is corrected, students improve how precisely their hands translate information from their eyes. Additionally, it takes a tremendous about of fine motor control in order to draw more and more accurate line angles, and practicing nuanced hand control improves overall fine motor skills. The act of practicing specific skills at a high level of accuracy trains the eye and hand to work together in the precise fashion needed to create skill-based artwork and complete other fine-motor-skill-based tasks.

  • Common Core Mathematical Understanding of Geometry and Ratios: Whether you agree with Common Core Standards or not, principals all over the country now require art teachers to demonstrate how they are meeting Common Core Math Standards in their art curricula. Teaching skill-based learning in art classrooms is an effortless way to integrate these Common Core Math Standards because draftsmanship skills require extensive knowledge of geometry and ratios. In many skill-based lessons students are asked to find shapes such as rectangles, squares, cones and rhombuses.  They build complex forms, such as figures, using spheres, cones, and cubes. Art students in Skill-Based Learning classrooms are asked to find notional space by identifying width-to-height ratios of a variety of subjects. They identify and utilize parallel lines to build design and structure in their drawings. They identify and adjust angles of lines by slight degrees. They must add, multiply, subtract, and divide to find the appropriate ratios of the subjects they are drawing, painting or sculpting. The act of being able to break down complex shapes into simple shapes teaches students how to recognize geometry in the world around them and how the world is constructed from geometric shapes. Additionally, when a student can demonstrate that they can find the appropriate ratios they are looking for by putting objects in correct proportion to one another, an art teacher can assess that a student has an understanding of mathematical ratios which links art to Common Core Math Standards. Skill-based training requires students to practice nearly all of the Common Core Geometry Standards, and many additional Common Core Math Standards, while simultaneously training students in visual literacy and technical competence.

  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards and Understanding Art as a Visual Language: By depicting objects and people from nature such as a moody landscape of fog over rolling hills, or blooming cherry blossoms on a sunny spring day, whether a work of art shows a mother playing with her child or a fierce battle scene, art literally paints a picture, and a picture is worth 1,000 words.  A student can equate the word tree for example with an actual tree in the same fashion as they can associate the word tree with a painting of a tree, hence demonstrating a visual language. When students use recognizable subjects in their artworks, it creates a language that their peers intuitively understand. Just like other visual artforms such as movies and TV shows use recognizable figures to tell a story, the same is true for paintings, drawings and sculptures created using skill-based techniques. Teaching students to study nuance and detail in drawings, paintings, and sculpture directly correlates to students identifying nuance and detail in literature. Using skill-based learning in art classrooms meets many of the Common Core English Language Arts Standards, especially those standards related to story-telling, identifying character hierarchies, finding details in stories, and more.

  • Makes Art Exciting: Many teachers are lead to believe that art has to come naturally from within and cannot be taught, but when art teachers make the assumption that art can be taught, everyone benefits. Teaching specific skills to students who self identify as "not artists" is the most obvious way to convince them that, like all other subjects, hard work under the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher will yield impressive results. When the belief that they can learn art emerges, students become more actively engaged in art classrooms. Approaching art classrooms with the belief that art can be taught allows teachers to help all students develop a sophisticated understanding and appreciation for the visual arts and makes art class exciting for everyone.

  • An Additional Skill Set to Use in Self Expression: Teaching a student skill-based techniques do not rob a student of the other techniques available to them. It simply gives them an extra tool in their proverbial toolbox. Rather then relying on emotion or innate ability alone, students can incorporate their skill-based training with their emotions as much or as little as they choose in order to attain the desired result. Not having the skill-based training at their disposal only limits the number of choices artists can make when creating their art.

  • Discipline: Just like with music, math, science, architecture, literature and virtually all other subjects, adding discipline to art through skill-based training educates students on the rewards of attaining skills acquired though dedication and practice. Since skill-based training requires intense focus and concentration, fortitude is needed to achieve high levels of skill using these methods.

  • Art Appreciation: Although not every student will become a professional artist, through skill-based training students experience visual problem solving and can therefore appreciate and identify the skills of other artists. Students gain understanding of the work and dedication needed to create the skill-based artwork that they see hanging on the walls of museums and gain a deeper appreciation for the skills and knowledge required by the artist to create it.
student work, age 18
student work, age 18

For more examples of works utilizing skill based techniques, click here

Risks and challenges

Lesson plans that are tied to national standards and include step by step instructions, background information, assessment sections with rubrics, and additional resource sections are very time consuming to create. Because of this it will take some time to get multiple courses and associated lesson plans online.

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    A Da Vinci Initiative Bumper Sticker

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    A Da Vinci Initiative Tote Bag and a Da Vinci Initiative Bumper Sticker

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    A Da Vinci Initiative T –Shirt, a Da Vinci Initiative Tote Bag and a Da Vinci Initiative Bumper Sticker.

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    Access to the 30 video lessons that comprise the first DVI online course.

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    A limited edition 16 1/4 x 13 in. high resolution fine art print of the Mona Lisa with the Da Vinci Logo and the tag line "A Mission for Visual Literacy" along the side. These top-quality fine art prints are custom printed to order on museum quality Archival Fine Art Paper, perfect for framing. If you do not like the DVI logo, simply have your framer cut it off for a beautiful stand alone print of the Mona Lisa.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    A Da Vinci Initiative T –Shirt, a Da Vinci Initiative Tote Bag, a Da Vinci Initiative Hat, a Da Vinci Initiative Bumper Sticker, and a sponsorship credit for helping fund the creation of the online course.

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    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    Access to the 30 videos that comprise the first DVI online course, a Da Vinci Initiative T –Shirt, a Da Vinci Initiative Tote Bag, a Da Vinci Initiative Bumper Sticker, and a sponsorship credit for helping fund the creation of the online course.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    A signed set of the DVI's vice president, Juliette Aristides', three published works: Classical Painting Atelier, Classical Drawing Atelier, and Lessons in Classical Drawings with the accompanying DVD. Also, a sponsorship credit for helping fund the creation of the online course.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    A limited edition 30 x 24 in. high resolution fine art print of the Mona Lisa with the Da Vinci Logo and the tag line "A Mission for Visual Literacy" along the side. These top-quality fine art prints are custom printed to order on museum quality Archival Fine Art Canvas, perfect for framing. If you do not like the DVI logo, simply have your framer cut it off for a beautiful stand alone print of the Mona Lisa. You will also receive access to the 30 video lessons that comprise the first DVI online course.

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    Pledge $650 or more About $650

    We will give a scholarship to a certified K - 12 art teacher in your name to attend a DVI workshop. You will also receive access to the 30 video lessons that comprise the first DVI online course, a Da Vinci Initiative T –Shirt, a Da Vinci Initiative Tote Bag, a Da Vinci Initiative Hat, a Da Vinci Initiative Bumper Sticker, and a sponsorship credit for helping fund the creation of the online course.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    You will receive an original oil painting by our DVI president Amanda Hallenius. The painting will be a floral still life created using skill based-techniques. (Approximate size 12 x 12 inches). You will also receive access to the 30 video lessons that comprise the first DVI online course, and a sponsorship credit for helping fund the creation of the online course.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    We will send a DVI Ambassador to a State Educational Conference in your name to help spread the word about how skill-based training can be implemented in K-12 classrooms. This comes with a personal thank you letter and photos from the event you sponsored us to go to. You will also receive access to the 30 video lessons that comprise the first DVI online course, a Da Vinci Initiative T –Shirt, a Da Vinci Initiative Tote Bag, a Da Vinci Initiative Hat, a Da Vinci Initiative Bumper Sticker, and a sponsorship credit for helping fund the creation of the online course.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    A set of thank you notes from a class of children who are benefiting from skill-based training in coordination with one of the DVI's programs. You will also receive access to the 30 video lessons that comprise the first DVI online course, a Da Vinci Initiative T –Shirt, a Da Vinci Initiative Tote Bag, a Da Vinci Initiative Hat, a Da Vinci Initiative Bumper Sticker, and a sponsorship credit for helping fund the creation of the online course.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Our DVI president, Mandy, will come to your area to teach you or a person of your choice (child or adult) a 3 hour private art lesson. Time and date of lesson to be worked out between you and Mandy. You will also receive a Da Vinci Initiative T –Shirt, a Da Vinci Initiative Tote Bag, a Da Vinci Initiative Hat, a Da Vinci Initiative Bumper Sticker, access to the 30 video lessons that comprise the first DVI online course, and a sponsorship credit for helping fund the creation of the online course.

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Funding period

- (30 days)