Leonardo da Vinci is born in Vinci, Italy. As a child, outdoorsy Leo loves hanging out in nature. Teenaged Leonardo moves to Florence, Italy, where he takes painting lessons. Using a technique called tempera, the artist mixes color pigments with water and egg yolk to make paint.
The genius starts scribbling down some 20,000 pages of ideas. He spells words backward and reverses each letter so his notes only look normal when reflected in a mirror. “Mirror writing” might have helped protect his ideas from snoops Leonardo sketches designs of a flying machine. His blueprints make him the first known person to seriously study ways for humans to take flight.
In 1503, Leonardo starts work on the “Mona Lisa,” a painting famous for its eyes that seem to follow viewers wherever they move. In 1516, he was asked to be the King of France’s official painter. There , he stayed for the rest of his life.