Sketchbook No.9: Tree House

Essential Question(s):


2. What are the Principles of Design: UNITY + BALANCE?

3. What creates a successful combination of unity & variety in a work of art?

4. How does an artist convey an abstract idea through concrete subject matter? 

Mastery Objective(s): The student will…

1. demonstrate their understanding LINEAR PERSPECTIVE, the Elements of Art and the Principles of Design, UNITY + BALANCE, by creating a two-page spread of a uniquely, innovative tree house representing themselves or their family.


The sun shone as you sat on a worn stone bench with your grandmother in the park. “When your grandfather and I were married, we planted a sapling together,” she remembered, pointing at a tall oak shading the path. “Look how tall it has grown.” When you walk in the same park today, you remember her story and point out the oak to your children. Stretching into the heavens, its many branches remind you of family. The branches represent your parents, aunts, and uncles. Shooting off those larger limbs are you, your siblings, and cousins. Crowning the tree are the new leaves that represent the latest generation.

  • Greg McMurdie ‘Millennials Share Their Favorite FamilySearch Tools for Preserving Family Memories

What is a symbol that you relate to the word ‘family’? For many of us, we think of the tree. The tree has served as a universal icon for the family for generations. The analogies, like the one above, are endless.

So instead of just a ‘family tree’, you are responsible for coming up with your very own interpretation of your family or yourself through a ‘tree house’. The catch is, you have to use either 1-point, 2-point, or 3-point linear perspective to create the illusion of space and depth and include the Principle of Design, UNITY, into your work. Unity is another of those hard-to-describe art terms but, when it’s present, your eye and brain are pleased to see it.

lin·e·ar per·spec·tive

A technique of creating the illusion of depth on a flat surface. All parallel lines receding into the distance are drawn to converge at one or more vanishing points on the horizon line.



Unity occurs when all of the elements of a piece combine to make a balanced, harmonious, complete whole.


1.Sketchbook is completed on a 2-page spread, focusing on the Principle of Design, UNITY and BALANCE. Choose one of the following 3 types of balance:

  • Symmetrical
  • Asymmetrical
  • Radial

Choose one of the following 3 types of linear perspective:

  • 1-point
  • 2-point
  • 3-point
  • you will need to ask permission before using 2 or 3-point linear perspective!

2. Subject Matter: a tree house that represents you or your family!

  • when drawing your tree house think about the POINT of VIEW
  • think about the DESIGN of the tree and the tree house  when relating it to you or your family. (example: color, thickness/thinness of trunk and branches, materials – wood, stone…
  • be specific about WHERE your tree and tree house are! What does the time of day and environment tell your viewer about you or your family. What are these things supporting in your work?

3. Media: open media (your choice), except NO GRAPHITE!

Do not copy another artist’s ideas or work!




MOOD with lighting:


and MORE:




Here are some videos to assist with techniques: