What Happens When Art Teachers Don’t Have The Answers?

Have you ever had students ask you for help with their artwork, and, as their art teacher, you *gulp* didn’t have the skills or knowledge they were seeking?

This happened to me not so long ago. I had an elementary student who wanted to make people look like they were flying through clouds. I suggested that he place some clouds in front of the figure, and some behind. He came back a few minutes later with the suggested changes and insisted it still wasn’t “right”.

My art teacher guilt went into full swing at this point.

The truth was, he had a very clear image in his head of this super realistic drawing of a hero flying through the clouds. But I didn’t have these realistic drawing skills he was asking me to teach him. I had given him everything I knew after just a few rounds of coaching, and I was at a loss figuring out how to help this frustrated child achieve his vision without asking him to settle for something less than he was striving for.

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The Frantic Search

That night, my art teacher self frantically researched the internet and every art book I owned trying to find the answers to “How to draw a guy flying through clouds.”


Then I went to the bookstore, and found Juliette Aristides’ Classical Drawing Atelier and Classical Painting Atelier.

Within the pages of that book, my entire art teacher world flipped upside down and sideways. I discovered that anyone can learn realistic drawing and painting skills that studies with someone who has what is called “atelier training”.

I decided right then and there that I wanted this magical “atelier training”. I wanted to be able to help my students achieve their artistic goals.

I never again wanted to feel the ineptitude and insecurities I felt that day when I couldn’t help my student draw exactly what he intended.

I wanted to rid myself of my art teacher guilt by mastering the skills my students were asking me to teach them.

art teacher Mandy Theis training in an atelier

Joining An Atelier

The next thing I know, I moved to Seattle and train with Juliette Aristides​ in her atelier. (This is why I always tell people that her books are dangerous! They compel you to learn what your heart has been looking for all these years.)

Unfortunately, this meant that I would have to take leave of the teaching profession in order to commit myself to full time study for 4 years.

(But YOU don’t have to – I’ve helped create an online painting class that will teach you atelier painting skills.)

While I was studying with Juliette, my art teacher friends noticed the transformation in my skills, and they started asking me how they could learn too. But most of them could not leave their jobs in order to train full time.

I wanted to find a better way for art teachers to access this knowledge and training – a way that wouldn’t force them to make a choice between keeping their job and learning realism skills

art teacher guilt

Spreading The Knowledge

And that’s why I started the Ateliyay! Painting Bootcamp, a program that provides atelier training for art teachers and anyone else that wants to learn how to paint at a high level.

No More Art Teacher Guilt

The journey from feeling like an inadequate art teacher to being able to provide realistic drawing and painting training to teachers throughout the country (and world!) has been an amazing ride. I wouldn’t trade it for anything! If you are ready to start your own journey down this path, check out our Ateliyay! Painting Bootcamp today.

The best part about the atelier journey? I now have the confidence and mastery to help my students achieve exactly what they intend in their artwork, without compromise, and you can too.

P.S. ANYONE can learn how to draw and paint realistically at very high levels. You just have to train with someone who knows how.

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