The Artist Harvest is on display!

We are proud to announce that our large-scale fruit and vegetable sculpture series, The Artist Harvest, is now on outdoor display in Livingston. If you’ve been in our studios anytime in the past year and a half, you’ve most likely seen them in some form of their evolution. Staff members and students have worked hard creating them, and we are thrilled at the way they turned out. Already we have gotten lots of positive feedback from the public. Go see them yourselves and send us photos – we’ll post them on facebook!

You can find them until mid-November in front of the Livingston Library, Town Hall and Community Center.

The evolution of The Munch-Room:

A mushroom painted in the style of Edvard Munch & inspired by The Scream:

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Here’s more about the series from our friends at Food Day:

In honor of Food Day, Livingston Township will be hosting The Messy Artist’s Artist Harvest, a series of 5 large-scale sculptures. The sculptures, conceived by Messy Artist CEO Donna Bernstein, excites children and adults alike about fruits and vegetables while also honoring the style of a famous artist.

Food Day, sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is a nationwide celebration focused on access to healthy foods and it was created to inspire positive changes in our diets and our food policies.  Livingston is an active participant in this real food movement and has hosted multiple food day events, including Stuff the Bus for CHOW and the Town wide Chili & Quinoa/Kale cook-off, for the past three years.  Food Day is scheduled for Oct 24th annually, however The Livingston Food Day committee, made up of representatives from the West Essex YMCA, Livingston Township, ShopRite, Kings, Livingston Public Schools, C.H.O.W, West Essex Tribune and other community groups, decided that since healthy eating and access to healthy food was so important, events are not limited to just one day.

The evolution of The Vincent Van Gogh Bananas:

A banana painted in the style of Vincent Van Gogh & inspired by Starry Night:

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The Messy Artist, offering art experiences for children and adults, was previously featured at Livingston’s Family Festival Day where they displayed half of their Artist Harvest sculpture collection in the Food Day tent.  The sculptures received such positive feedback that the committee decided to go to the town council to propose a town-wide display and was met with unanimous support.

The sculptures, approximately 4’ x 6’, are visually stunning and designed to provoke conversation related to healthy eating and art appreciation. Over 75 students, including many Livingston residents, helped with plastering, sanding and painting the sculptures while they were being created at the Messy Artist. Five pieces make up the collection:

  • The Munch-Room: A mushroom painted in the style of Edvard Munch & inspired by The Scream
  • The Straw-Dali: A strawberry painted in the style of Salvador Dali & inspired by Persistence of Memory
  • The Peppered like Pollack: A pepper painted in the style of Jackson Pollack & inspired by his Number 8 painting
  • The Vincent Van Gogh Bananas: A banana painted in the style of Vincent Van Gogh & inspired by Starry Night
  • The Pearcasso: A pear painted in the style of Pablo Picasso & inspired by le tete d’une femme lisant

The evolution of The Straw-Dali:

A strawberry painted in the style of Salvador Dali & inspired by Persistence of Memory:

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Bernstein was inspired to create The Artist Harvest from other large-scale sculptures projects such as “The Cow Parade” and “The Great Light Way”  (the West Orange light bulb sculptures). “I decided to focus on fruits and vegetables to instill healthy eating for children and to paint the sculptures in the style of famous artist to promote awareness of art history,” said Bernstein.   She added, “And it has been wonderful to watch the students work cooperatively to create community art.  I had never created large-scale sculptures, so it has been a learning process. We are thrilled with the end results and look forward to sharing them with the Livingston community.”

The evolution of The Peppered like Pollack:

A pepper painted in the style of Jackson Pollack & inspired by his Number 8 painting:

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The sculptures will be located at the three locations including the Library, the Community Center on Hillside Ave and the Town Hall and the display will be up through mid-November. Special thanks to the Livingston Department of Public Works for helping to transport and set up the sculptures and to Michele Meade and the Town Council for their support of this project. For more information on Food Day, go to; for more information on Livingston Food Day go to or email Stacey Rubinstein, Livingston’s Food Day Chair, at; and to learn more about the Messy Artist go to

The evolution of The Pearcasso:

A pear painted in the style of Pablo Picasso & inspired by le tete d’une femme lisant:

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Hello Kelly!

We are honored to present this guest blog post from Kelly Heinze of Music and More with Kelly. Anyone who has ever taken one of her music and dance filled classes and experienced her infectious energy and positivity will agree that her classes have a special style.

kellyheinze_1338337822_140As a fellow small business owner focusing on childrenʼs education, Kelly and Donna of The Messy Artist have a strong bond, cemented by complimentary philosophies on teaching young children. Kelly graciously took some time out from her busy teaching schedule to answer some interview questions.

What was your background before Music Together with Kelly?

Before teaching Music Together I had a career as an actress, singer dancer. I performed in many musicals across the nation and abroad.

Please tell us how you started Music Together with Kelly.

After I had my first baby, I started to contemplate retiring from professional performance to teach. I wasnʼt sure in what capacity I would teach, so I returned to college to get my Masters degree in secondary education with an emphasis in English Literature. During that time, I happened to take my child to a Music Together class in Brooklyn, NY. The teacher noticed that I was a singer and said that I should look into it. My family moved to Maplewood, NJ and I took the Music Together training and before I knew, it 2 classes turned into ten. I became a corporation and had to learn how to be a business person within one year. It was overwhelming, but so satisfying on many levels.

customLogoDo you see links between teaching kids music and other types of learning?

Kids learn music the same way they learn anything! Active participation from strong role models as well as information being imparted to encompass a variety of learning styles. In our mixed age music classes, the caregivers are the most important people in the class! Without them there would be no consistent, musical role model for the child. I always tell my caregivers two things:

  • 1. It doesnʼt matter if you are musical. Your active, enthusiastic participation is teaching the child the joy of music and this will last a lifetime.
  • 2. I am only with them one time per week for 45 minutes, you are with them 24/7 or close to it! You are their role model for every kind of learning.

MTPic47-webDo you see links between teaching kids music and other types of learning?

I believe that music learning supports all learning.

In fact, children learn better and more quickly when music is incorporated into their learning environments. I’m not talking about the passive consumption of music, rather actively incorporating music into daily lessons. I am a huge proponent of Music Together in the classrooms. Our preschool program uses the Music Together curriculum to enhance learning in the classroom by incorporating art projects to match themes in the song collections, by using the songs to work through daily transitions, and to build the rhythm and tonal skills of the children on a daily basis.

How do you see children develop throughout your classes?

What keeps me going 18 years later, is watching the effect that Music Together has on the development of the child as a whole. Not only do I marvel at the musical development I see in infants and toddlers, but also the cognitive and social gains I see every day. Children who consistently take my classes from infancy through toddlerhood learn how to keep a steady beat and sing in tune, but they also learn how to share, socialize, clean up, and be an enthusiastic learner to name a few things.

MTPic38-webWhat non-musical effects do you see on kids who have taken your classes (i.e, better self control, ability to follow directions)?

As we all know, there seems to be many issues affecting children these days from sensory integration problems to central processing disorders, autism spectrum and a variety of other physical and or cognitive delays. One of my greatest feelings of accomplishments is when I am able to work with parents to help a child who was not successful in class to become successful. Figuring out what the problems are and coming up with a plan and implementing it successfully is very satisfying for all parties involved. I have helped children to overcome fears of groups and loud noises. I have also developed behavioral plans for parents desperate to prepare their rambunctious toddlers for preschool.

What are the best parts of running your own business? The worst? The most surprising?

The best part to running my business is being in the classroom and interacting with children and their families. I am a people person and although cliché, I absolutely love children. My requisite for becoming a teacher of mine is to have the natural ability to engage children through an innate, true love of teaching. The only things I really dislike about my business is the paperwork! I donʼt like billing and even advertising. It is time consuming and just not fun! The most surprising part of my business to me is that I can say I am still in business 18 years later! This means I am doing something right!

MTPic46-webWhere do you see Music Together with Kelly in 5 years?

Music Together is an international booming program across the world! Some people donʼt even know that they can do the Triangle song collection (This Springʼs collection) right now in Tokyo or India! I donʼt see Music Together ever ending! I hope to continue offering this program well after I am unable to physically jump up and down in the classroom! There are always new lovely, vibrant teachers ready to give their all to my families! I see the program in the next five years as holding strong and steady. Would I love to see growth in my individual centers, yes of course, but I am happy that within the communities I service ( Maplewood/South Orange, Millburn, East Hanover, Springfield, Union) they are going strong.

What advice do you have for parents for their children to get the most out of enrichment classes?

The single most important thing that parents should think about with regards to getting the most out of their enrichment classes is this: ask yourself what YOU as the adult want out of the class. Are you looking for a place that is for you to socialize, and/or for you to bond with your child? Should it be educational or just fun? I have four children and when they were young, I was mostly interested in meeting other moms with kids my age as well as taking a class where my child would actually learn something. I always found that classes without educational value left me with a stinging feeling in my pocket book! I became a Music Together mom before I ever taught it. I sent every one of my children through the program from birth through age 4. (with the exception of my first who started at 1 and he finished a little earlier, well, because he was a hitter!) All of my children are incredible math students and musicians. I think there might be something to that research! I credit Music Together for their incredible musical ears and their auditory and visual/spatial skills. I have 2 sons, one of which who at the age of 17 is a professional jazz musician. My 15 year old sings and plays jazz as well as classic rock guitar. Both are on the honor roll and in advanced classes academically. My twins are 10 year old girls and they are fantastic musicians, playing clarinet and piano! “Music learning supports all learning”.

MTPic32-web-1Just for fun: your favorite food, quote and place to travel

.Personally speaking, most people know me as the Music Together lady, full of educational wisdom for babies and toddlers! Maybe some of you donʼt know that my favorite food is Five Guys and the candy, Dots. In my spare time, which is never, I just want to read trashy novels on the beach!

Thank you, Kelly, for your wonderful insights into music education and running your own business! We hope you got to spend some time this summer reading trashy novels on the beach!

5 ways to keep school age boys (and all active kids) engaged in art class

new jersey art classes for children morris countyAt a certain point, the ratio of girls to boys in art classes increases and there are predominantly girls. This usually happens in the later elementary school/middle school years. There is a misconception that boys are too active to be interested in art class, that they are not able to sit still for lots of listening. Nothing could be further from the truth! Our upper level art classes of middle school age students have a good mix of both genders, and our top level advanced class is 50% male.

Art classes can engage almost any active child, boy or girl. Here are 5 things we use to keep school aged kids motivated during class class for kids

  1. bite sized pieces. Nuggets of information or directions, followed by creation time, work best for projects. If we have a long or multi-step piece, we break it down into smaller chunks, and let the kids get working sooner. It’s much easier for them to play attention to 5 minutes of lecturing and then start creating (and repeat this process) than to listen to an hour of instruction and then get class elementary school age keeping kids engaged in class
  1. change the scene.   Every now and then we change the location of our classes, providing a new environment for the kids. This could be a field trip to a museum, or just working in a different room in our studio.nj kids art class and party
  1. change the physical work position. If kids seem antsy, changing position can work wonders. We bring out easels or raise the table so they can stand and work, or have them sit on the floor. We tape paper to the wall, or let them try a different chair.
  1. send them on errands. Kids just have to move sometimes, and we incorporate movement into our lesson plans. The supplies they need are kept on a table, apart from where they create, so they have to get up to get needed items. We’ll have them get up to check out a drawing from another angle. These can be done numerous times if you have a high-energy class.elementary school art education
  1. allow them to be free range. Don’t force kids to sit in one place all class. Encourage them to get up and try another seat. Walk around and see what other kids are doing in their project. Get a drink of water. As long as they are not disturbing other students, it’s fine to hop up and take a little break.

As you can see, the key to keeping energetic kids engrossed in the classroom activities is variety! By being mindful of the children’s liveliness, instructors can manage it and keep them on task.

goodbye summer, hello fall!

Since Labor Day is upon us this weekend, it’s a perfect time to celebrate the last joys of summer and get ready for fall. Every season, we like to look back on what has happened here at The Messy Artist, commemorating all that has gone on and all the wonderful art that has been created!

  1. AFI art show. Summer kicked off with our Art Foundations Intensives art show, an art extravaganza showcasing our advanced art students. For the entire school year, the Art Foundations Intensives Students study artists, art theory, and work on their techniques. One Saturday in June, we exhibit all their artworks for a gala event.
  1. Summer Camps and Classes: The main portion of our summer is filled with art camp. We always look forward to being able to spend a whole week on one art form, as we do in our fine art camps. This year our intensive topics were: drawing, clay, painting, cartooning, crafts, papermaking and printmaking, and textile and fibers. We also introduced new themes: mural making and 3D storyboarding camps.  We also had mini camp all summer, and caregiver and me classes.
  1. The Artist Harvest: Our large-scale fruit and vegetable sculpture series will be debuting on September 15th, on display in front of three public buildings in Livingston NJ (Town Hall, the Library and Community Center). Staff and students have worked on getting the sculptures ready for exhibitiion: building, painting, and mounting on bases. We can’t wait to show them off!
  1. New Location: This summer we expanded our classes to a new location: the JCC MetroWest in West Orange, NJ. We taught 3 classes and had a great time meeting new students. So great in fact, that we’ll be holding classes there again this fall.
  1. Good bye: The end of summer always means saying goodbye to our college student employees who return to school, and this summer two of our other staff are moving on. It’s hard to say goodbye, but we wish all the best for Anthony, Jay and Adrianna.
  1. Looking ahead: We’ve got a few weeks of our Drop-In and Play and Mini Camp coming up, and then our Fall 2015 Session starts September 28. We’re preparing our lesson plans and ordering all the art supplies, always an exciting time.

cropped-img_7380.jpgThank you all for a fantastic summer!