Picasso’s Head

Ever since I heard about the wire + stocking sculpture, I wanted to try it – what what better way to introduce this unique medium than combining it with self-portrait lesson dedicated to Pablo Picasso. These statues are pretty simple to make (especially for grades 2 and up) but they take a long time to dry. I used acrylic paint and still needed several coats. I’d recommend doing this if you have enough time to let it dry for couple of days before decorating it. Other than that – super fun way to introduce form, discussion about face, proportions and Cubism!


If you want to see more ideas about Cubism, Pablo Picasso and self-portraits, click here.


Claude Monet and his Garden


With this month’s issue of arTree magazine you can visit Claude Monet’s garden and create a painting of his famous Japanese bridge or a giant water-lily to hang on your wall!


What is Impressionism?

Show kids several of Monet’s paintings and ask them to describe what they see. Are there any lines? Black? Are the paintings from inside/outside? What is the most important element used? Why do they think he painted the same scene over and over again?


Then invite them to visit his garden in Giverny, France:


Explain that he spent over 20 years designing, working and painting his garden and that he poured most of his money into it. Show the kids some photos from the garden and then take their focus to the bridge or the water lilies:


Huge water lily pads: K-2
This is the link to the presentation: http://1drv.ms/1mD0PwM
Printable labels: http://1drv.ms/1mD0UAG

For the K (and 1), I would recommend making a template for the kids to trace the water lily pad (or you can predraw them on the black papers before you go into the classroom). When you use the watercolors to saturate the coffee filters, dilute the liquid watercolors a little to get softer colors and encourage kids to paint three of them, crumble them and put them on a side (leave them on a paper plate or just put them on a piece of a scrap paper with their name on it). You can paint the blossoms on the beginning of the lesson or you can set a table aside just for this purpose.

When kids use the oil pastels, remind them to hold the pastels low and press down hard. If they do not press enough, the colors are not going to be vivid and if they do press a lot and hold the pastels too high, they will break.

Encourage the kids to cover the whole surface of the water lily pad and then ask them to cut it out. You may need to glue on the blossoms later on, they will need 1-2 hours to dry (you can use just regular glue).

Reflection Symmetry: 3-5

This is the link to the presentation: http://1drv.ms/1mD12jv
Printable labels: http://1drv.ms/1mD1a2q

Give the kids a little bit of time to think about the garden they want to paint.
You can share some poetry with them to inspire them: http://www.blackcatpoems.com/h/a_daffodil_day.html
Or let them look at some beautiful gardens: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=garden

Let the kids paint the garden and then write a little poetry (or a short lyrical text) about it. How does the garden make them feel? Why do they think so?

Start the project with folding the paper and make sure kids shade only one half of the painting with their blue pencil/crayon. Then they can start working on their own. Remember to encourage them to fold the painting frequently, so that the paint does not have a chance to dry. When they are done, they can add water lilies to their pond with green construction paper, paint, crumbled tissue paper, potato stamps, finger painting, model magic or anything else you may like to try.


Do you want to bring this art program (along with the magazine, more projects and ideas) to your school?

We are running an end-of-the-year promotion: 50% off if you sign up by 5/25! That’s only $125 for the whole school year! Ask us about details: info@arTreeKids.com

arTree story: how art docents found their art


Kids are natural artists. They love to paint and draw, they love to explore and experiment with all the colors and textures… basically, they love to create art. And yet, art programs are being cut at most public schools all the time.

I would like to change that. I would love to bring some of the art back to the schools, where it belongs.

Last year I started publishing a digital art magazine for kids. It is called arTree and it combines art history with art education. It teaches kids about perspective, color theory, shading, blending and much more. It introduces current artists in special interviews and connects art with Math, science, physical activities and storytelling. It is a digital magazine that comes out every month with 14 – 18 pages of art.

I started publishing the magazine because I thought it was missing on the market. There are magazines about animals, pop culture and some magazines just for girls but I could not find a magazine about art. And my son loves art. He doesn’t just like it, he loves it. When he was three years old he would spend hours drawing pictures for his friends. And I would spend hours and hours on Pinterest preparing some fun projects and activities for him to keep him challenged and busy. It was exhausting, but really fun.


In the fall my son started attending Woodside Elementary. The school seemed like a wonderful place for him with one little problem – there was almost no art. There were a couple of dedicated moms who brought their own ideas and supplies to the classrooms but they could not more than a couple of classrooms. I decided to change that. Some of those wonderful PTA moms and I decided to take arTree and use it as our lesson plans for the following year. Today, couple of months later, there are over 700 kids involved in the art docent program at Woodside. They all have free access to the magazine and they all make one or two of the arTree projects during their art docent lessons each month.

In the first months some of the teachers were reluctant to share the valuable time with the parents, but now, they all have spots for their art docents in the schedules. Even the principal, Dr. Betty Cobbs, called it the best running art docent program she ever had in any of her schools. And of course the kids have learned a lot. They have learned about one-point and atmospheric perspective, they have made collages and drew with oil pastels, they designed their dream houses with watercolors and learned about minimal realism with potato stamps.

The art docents have a wonderful time as well. Every month we do an art docent training. Basically, it is a time when all of the moms meet, learn about the new project and make some wonderful art together. Everybody loves it! It’s like a ‘sip and paint’ – without the wine.

In the last couple of months I have started developing more and more art projects and presentations for the art docents to use. And now, I am adding a whole new visual arts program to the arTree magazine and I am starting to look for more schools that would like to adopt the program.

Getting art to kids is my primary goal so I am keeping the program in the digital format. It allows me to keep the price down and get the magazine to all kids at the school for free. Some of the competitors sell their lesson plans for $200 per class which I think is very steep for some of the schools in the area. I provide the lessons for the whole year, the magazine and a list of materials for $250 per year – for the whole school. The program aligns with WA Arts K 1-12 learning standards and it makes it super easy for parents who have not painted since they were kids to get involved in the program. Plus, I help schools raise money for the supplies. I give them all two lesson plans for after-school art classes that they can run themselves to get all the art-docent-supply money they need.

I love art. I love teaching it and I would love to share that experience with others. It is very rewarding when you walk around the school and the kids greet you excitedly with: “do we do art today?” Art docent program is a wonderful thing and arTree makes it easy for everyone to get involved. You do not have to be an artist to teach a lesson. You just need to be passionate and love what you do. The kids will do the rest.

Do you want to bring this program to your school? If you contact me (info@artreekids.com) by 5/25 and mention the code: artDocent514 you will be able to bring the whole program to your school for only $125/year!

Joan Miro and self-portraits (for kids)

Are you an art docent?

Teach kids about Joan Miro this month! This project introduces Joan Miro & self-portraits and it is recommended for kids in K-2 grades.

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Silly Self portrait

Start with a  presentation.

When you introduced Joan Miro and his work to the kids, ask them to sketch a head (with a sharpie). Show kids that they can do whatever shape they want (you may even sketch those on a blackboard – oval, square, heart…) and then show them how to make the eyes and the U-shape nose.

miro 116 15 17

Then the kids can create whatever body shape they want. Just remind them to keep it simple and when they are done to ‘divide’ it or ‘visually cut’ it into several segments (they are going to be coloring each of them differently so they want to have several of them).

When they are done, give them the oil pastels (yellow, red, blue, green, black and white) and ask them to color the picture (not the background). The ones that finish early can add their favorite animal or something they like to do (soccer ball, books, etc.).

In the end, ask the kids to bring the picture over and spray it (with them) with the watercolor spray (just some watercolors in a spray bottle). For this part, make sure you have something covering the surrounding area (newsprint, mat, shower curtain or old plastic tablecloth). And be careful when you lift the picture – the watercolor may drip a little.

16 label


Here are the labels to print out for this project and attach them to kids’ artworks.

Pieter Bruegel’s Landscapes


January issue of arTree magazine is here! And art docents at many schools started teaching the kids about Pieter Bruegel and the atmospheric perspective in his landscapes.

Hunters in the Snow, Winter, Pieter Bruegel the Elder

In a shortcut: Pieter was a Flemish Renaissance landscape artist. He loved painting ordinary people at work. So, often he dressed up as a peasant and walked among them to observe and sketch them. He sometimes even went to a wedding nobody invited him to – just to be able to paint it authentically.

He also loved mountains and sketched many of them in Italy. When he got back to Netherlands he added them to many of his paintings. And it was at that time when painters started using atmospheric perspective in their work (scattering of light that makes mountains in the distance appear lighter/bluer).

That’s January’s main project in arTree magazine – and is being used by art docents at different schools in different grades. These are examples from one of WA schools: Kindergarten and 3rd grade. Mt. Rainer has never been so colorful!


Mount Rainier by Kindergarteners (above) and St. Mary’s Lake by 3rd graders (below).


If you would like to teach this lesson at your school, you can download and use the Power point Presentation here:

Atmospheric perspective for K-3 (Mount Rainer National Park): http://sdrv.ms/1j9wsLj

Atmospheric perspective for 3-6 (St. Mary’s Lake at Glacier National Park): http://sdrv.ms/KlUH9W

And if you would like to learn more, get all of the information and other examples, visit our website. Make your art docent program really stand out!


Is Art Education Worth it?

We all know art education is missing at our schools. But just how important is it? According to this study it can make a big impact on many lives. Just check it out for yourself:

  • Students who are involved in the arts are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
  • Low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are more than twice as likely to graduate collage.
  •  Students who take four years of art/music classes average almost 100 points better on their SAT.

There are many reasons why we should keep arts in our schools – but the truth is that there is not enough money for that. There are more pressing needs and problems teachers and principals have to deal with – before they get to the PTAs, art docent programs and art supplies.

But I believe that the art does not have to suffer and the art docents can get a little help. I know what a hassle it can be to look through the materials you get from a district, not knowing what to teach, why and how… it is overwhelming and boring. But it does to have to be. It is art.


That’s why I have decided to try and help. I am working on an art curriculum for elementary school kids that they could follow with their teachers, parents or by themselves. It will be an online, weekly “magazine” and it will be inexpensive. Once purchased through PTAs (or just parents) it will be available to ALL kids at the school for the whole year. Stay tuned if you are interested in learning more… I hope to make this available for September.