Today we’re going to do some process art using leaves!  It’s that time of year when we all start to think about leaves and really appreciating how beautiful they are. Let’s grab some of those beautiful leaves and make art with them!

In my shop the past couple weeks, we’ve been focusing on the book Leaf Man, which is the perfect book for fall. We did some leaf math, danced like falling leaves, and played leaf war. Then we wrote leaf stories and caught letter leaves. If you want more info on those activities, you can find the Leaf Man activity packs in my store here.

Now, we’re going to use those leaves for something totally different!  We’ll gather a bunch of leaves from different trees and use them as art tools!  I’m going to show you 3 different ways to paint with leaves. If you want to watch a video of this process, I have a complete video on my YouTube channel, here.

Supplies

 Before we can start creating, we need to gather our supplies.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Paper:
  • Leaves:
    • You’ll need leaves!  Go on a leaf walk and collect a bunch.  Make sure to collect several green leaves, since we’ll use them for our chlorophyll painting. 
    • If all the leaves in your area have turned, green grass also works fabulously.
    • You’ll want to get several different shapes of leaves
    • Also, grab at least one bunch of leaves on a branch or connected together. Connected leaves make painting with them much easier.
  • A Rubber Band
  • A Small Stick or Twig
  • Paint:
    • We’ll use the leaves themselves as the paint for one of our paintings, but we’ll need paint for the other two.  I used this tempera paint.
  • Markers:
    • We’ll use this to draw our tree skeleton. Any kind will work, I used a plain old sharpie.
  • Paint Brushes:
    • A few different brushes for the different colors would be good. I used these brushes.
  • Rolling pin:
    • This will let you press down hard on your leaves.  
    • You can also use a brayer if you have one.

1st painting technique-Chlorophyll painting

For the 1st type of painting, we’re going to let the leaf work as our paint!  You’re going to use chlorophyll to paint the leaves on a tree!

You’ll need a piece of white paper and several different types of green leaves plus a bunch of green grass.   

Step 1: Draw a tree skeleton on your paper with a pencil and then outline with a marker.  

Step 2: Now that you have the trunk and branches of your tree, it’s time to paint on the leaves. 

Have your child take the green leaves and bunch them up.  They’ll have the best results if the leaves are really mushed them up, creating openings in the leaf for the chlorophyll to escape.  Once those leaves are all bunched up, smoosh them onto the paper where the tree leaves would be. Depending on the type of leaf, there may not be a ton of transfer at first, just keep pressing and trying different kinds of leaves.

See how the green transfers over to the paper?  Painting with Chlorophyll!! 

You can also try painting with grass.  Just like trees, grass has chlorophyll and it can transfer that color to the paper.

Try several different kinds of leaves and compare results. 

2nd Painting Technique-Using Leaves As A Paintbrush

Next, we’re going to use leaves as our paint brushes! 

For this technique, you’ll need paper, paint, and several bunches of leaves.

Step 1: Create a Leaf Brush

If your leaves are on a branch or stem, your child can paint just by grabbing the stem. If your leaves aren’t grouped together on a branch or stem, you’ll need to make a brush with them.

To make a brush, take several of leaves and pull them together into a group. Put a small stick in the middle of the leaves and use the rubber band to keep the leaves on there.  You might have to help your child with this part!  

Step 2: Once you have your brush all ready, you can paint! 

Apply paint directly to your paper from the bottle. You can do this or you can have your kids apply the paint themselves. Place paint drops all over the paper. The size of droplets and colors of the paint can be whatever they want!  

Step 3: Have your child paint whatever they’d like with their fancy brush.

This artwork is definitely more about the process than the product!  Experiment with different leaf types.  What does it look like when we use different leaves?  

Let their creation dry then display it somewhere for everyone to see!

3rd Painting Technique-Making a Leaf Print

Finally, we’re going to use our leaves to make a print

For this painting, you’ll need 3 or 4 leaves of different sizes, paper, paint, paint brushes, and a rolling pin or brayer.

Step 1: Pick your leaves.

Try to work with a flat, soft leaf.  A crunchy leaf isn’t going to get us what we want.  Look for a leaf with a lot of cool veins on the back.  The vein are what stick out the most in the print, so cool veins means a cool print!

Step 2: Prepare the paint

Once we have our leaf, we’re going to get our paint ready.  I used tempera paint and a paper plate to hold it.  Don’t limit yourself to traditional leaf colors, you can use any color you want!  I used some blues, a cool metallic gold, and purple.  Make sure you have a brush for each color.

Step 3: Paint the leaves

Now it’s time to get to business!  Have your child use their paint brushes to put paint all over the back, or veined part of the leaf.  Don’t worry if the colors run together, it’ll look cool.  Don’t put a ton of paint on.  If you get too much paint, it smooshes together and you miss the details.  A thin layer is best.

Step 4: Lay down the leaves

Lay the painted leaf paint side down on your paper.  Be careful not to move it once it’s on the paper.

Step 5: Transfer the paint

Lay another sheet over the top of the leaf and get your muscles ready!  Take your rolling pin and roll over your leaf, again being careful not to move it.  This will help the paint really get into the paper!

Take off the top sheet of paper and pull your leaf off. 

Look at that amazing piece of art!

Great Job!

Bravo to you and your kids for trying new things today. Remember, there is no way to do art wrong and these projects were all about the process. Hopefully everyone had fun and enjoyed making art in different, nontraditional ways! 

Remember, if you want to watch a video of this process, I have one on my YouTube channel here!