ArTree germinated from the desire of local mom Eva Soukal to help her son Martin grow creatively. Soukal, who grew up in the Czech Republic where students have two hours of art class every week, says, "I was surprised when Martin started kindergarten that there is no art education here."
Unable to find a magazine to guide her, Soukal drew from her training in elementary education and graphic design to create art lessons. She soon realized she had enough projects to create the very magazine she'd been searching for.
Each issue focuses on a theme, like the ocean, and features a traditional or contemporary artist whose work represents that theme. Soukal says, "I try to show the kids different techniques and ideas. I show them how different artists do something, then say, now you create something that is unique to you." The June issue will highlight Ukrainian artist Ksenyia Simoniva, who creates astounding visuals in sand. Soukal reminds us, "Art doesn't have to be pen on a paper."
The magazine's tag line is, "Grow your creativity" and that is exactly what ArTree does. Soukal advises parents that "instead of saying, ‘Good job,' try talking about what you liked about the piece your child is creating. Talk about colors they used, their lines, and shapes. Don't make kids feel like it is the best thing they ever did, or they won't try hard." Soukal urges parents and kids: "Don't be afraid that you are going to mess it up. There is no right or wrong in art."
ArTree is available as a family subscription or as a school subscription: www.artreekids.com.
Laura Spruce Wight is a local freelance writer whose daughters enjoy tapping into their creative side at their elementary school, where ArTree is used by PTA art docent volunteers.