Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How to Make Fall Leaves with Paint, Paper and Pastel

Here is a way you or the kids can make some Fall leaves to have on display in the house.

There are two methods, The darker leaves made with a pastel resist technique ( this photo does not give them justice they are much more colorful ), and the good old Coffee filter type.

I'll run you thru both....let's get started.

Materials needed: brown paper bags or package paper, pastels, dark brown tempera or acrylic paint, paintbrush, water, glue, a bare branch, scissors

First cut your paper bags or package paper into pieces. I cut mine about the size of 2 good sized leaves. I cut the paper into pieces so the kids can handle it better and don't get overwhelmed with trying to color in a big piece.

Next we get out the pastels in Fall
colors and start coloring. You want a fairly good coating of color, otherwise it won't show up under the paint.

Color all your pieces. We did about 6.

Now take your pastel colored paper and crumple it. You may have to do it a couple of times. You want lots of creases. Sometimes if your paper is really heavy it helps to dampen it slightly with water and then crumple. If you get a few holes that's OK it just adds to the look. You don't want alot of tearing though.

Flatten out your pieces of paper. Take your paint, you want a darker
shade of brown than the paper, and water it down a bit. We used acrylic because I like the intense color but you can easily use tempera as well.

Paint all your pieces and set them aside to dry.

When dry you want to cut out some leaf shapes. You could use a template for tracing if you wish. DLTK has a good one.

Put some glue on the back of the leaf where the stem would be and place on your bare branch.

You can use clothespins to hold the leaf in place until the glue dries.

When dry enjoy your new Fall decoration.

For the Coffee filter leaves you need the following:

coffee filters, washable markers in fall colors, glue, water, wax paper, paintbrush, scissors, bare branch

Take your coffee filters and color with markers. You don't have to be too thorough as the marker is going to saturate the filter in the next step. You can have white areas that's OK.

Take your white glue and pour a bit into a recycled marg. or yogurt container. Add some water, about a 1:1 ratio.

Place your colored filters on some wax paper and paint on the glue/water mixture. You'll find the colors start running together immediately. Coat completely and let dry.

When dry cut out your leaf shapes and glue onto your bare branch like before. You can also cut leaves out of the wax paper you used. I found the marker seeped thru and it created a neat translucent effect.

A nice Fall display.

Incidentally, the boards we were working on for this project are the art boards I was describing in the last post. Truly indispensable, allow you to move your work while drying and protects your desk, kitchen table or where ever you craft.

see you later


  1. Another awesome project! I am going to show this stuff to my wife, who is a teacher.

    Thanks for the visit and nice comments on my blog. Yes, please add me to your list. I would be honored!
    I will begin naming my characters, too! :P

  2. I LOVE this!! A perfect cozy-day project. I imagine it needs to be done while drinking apple cider, right? Great job! Thanks for the instructions.

  3. I have just discovered your blog and LOVE it! Thank you so much for all the "how to" photos. My kids and I made the coffee filter leaves/tree this week! I'm loving my new fall decoration... and the kids are so proud of themselves! : )


  4. Thanks for the wonderful comments. I just saw your coffee filter leaves on your blog Jennifer and they look spectacular!

  5. What a great project! And perfect for any age. I`m going to do the coffee filter one with my two year old, he`s big on coloring and would love this craft.

  6. So cute! Looks like they had lots of fun!

  7. I just found your blog and am enjoying looking through all your ideas and photographs. Art is my favorite thing! Your autumn leaves are so lovely!
    I would like to invite your readers to visit my new blog:
    and my website:
    I share lots of art ideas from all of the 25 books I have written, including “Discovering Great Artists” and “Great American Artists for Kids”.

    Thank you again for all you do for children.
    Yours truly, MaryAnn F. Kohl
    art author

  8. I have been looking for a fall leaf project and now I have found it. Thanks for sharing your creativeness. I too love doing art projects with my kiddos.

  9. Lovely way to welcome autumn! I'll be linking on's Facebook page. Thanks for all you share :)