Saturday, September 10, 2016

Autumn Collage Tree

This autumn collage focuses on squares and rectangles to give the tree a pixelated like appearance.


-2 pieces of paper for painting
- square piece of heavier paper for background
- paint, I used acrylic but you can use disk tempera or liquid tempera (yellow,orange,red,brown,green,blue,dark blue,white)
- pencil crayons, wax crayon, and/or pastels
- glue
- scissors


You want to start by painting the paper for your squares. I wanted colours ranging from light yellow to dark red.

For the first paper I start by painting the yellow on one side.(1/3rd) I even add a touch of white to my last strokes on the end to give me a really light yellow.
I then paint orange on the other side. (1/3rd)  In the middle I pick up yellow paint with my brush and a touch of orange and paint that middle tone in.  I like to see the brush marks so don't feel you have to have it perfectly blended.

For my second paper I paint one side orange and one side red. When I finish my red side I added just a touch of brown to my last strokes to give me that nice dark red.
 I paint in the middle tone with both colours.

Set papers aside to dry.

I used a square piece of heavier paper for my background.

I taped it to my art board so I would get that nice white border at the end.

Draw a few lines at the bottom for your horizon, somewhere for your tree to sit.

Paint in your sky.  I like a bit of variation in my sky so I made one area darker.  This is where my tree will be in shadow.  I like to see those brush marks so again don't feel like it has to be fully blended.

Paint in your ground area.  I made that same area darker.

I made my hill in the distance a bit duller, (add a little brown to your green) this makes it appear further away.

Paint in your tree.  Now most of the branches will get covered but it helps to give you a visual framework of where to put those leaves.

You'll have more control if you use some dry media for your smaller branches.  You can use pencil crayon, wax crayon, or even pastels.

I bought a bunch of twistable pencil crayons this year as I am so tired of having to sharpen a gazillion pencil crayons every time we use them at school. We'll see how they hold up.
I also added a little bit of grass strands in front of the tree, some shading down the trunk on the dark side, and some marks with white pencil crayon to show the texture of the bark.

When my papers have dried I cut my squares and rectangles. About the size of a fingernail.

You need more than you think as we will be layering our colours.

Just look at all that gorgeous colour!

Before we start gluing just remind yourself where we want the colours to go.

We want lighter values on one side closer to top and darker values on other side closer to bottom.
It also matches our background.

Now it's time to glue.  Start with your middle colours.  With older kids have them glue squares and rectangles straight up and down, (it helps with that pixelated look).

I know that younger kids will glue them more haphazardly and that's ok it will still look good.

Keep on gluing layering and overlapping.  Leave a little of the background showing here and there.

As you get to the end add those darkest reds and lightest yellows.

You can also cut some of your squares in half making some skinny rectangles to place here and there on your top layer.

Prop your collage up and take a good look at it from a can see where you need to add a few more lights or maybe some darks.

Add a few on the ground and that's it.

Another stunning autumn tree.



  1. I love this and Know my kids will too since it will remind them of minecraft! Pinned.

  2. Very lovely idea for autmn project. Thank you.

  3. My grandson (he's 4) and I did this project. I helped with the tree trunk and he got tired of cutting pretty quickly but the painting and gluing he loved - it's an impressive piece that his parents raved over!

  4. Gail, this is so stinkin' neat! Love the range of projects you do for all ages. I browse often for inspiration. Thank you.

  5. Did you use construction paper or just computer paper for the two pieces that are painted the solid colors? (The ones used to cut out for he leaves?) thanks!

    1. All the paper was painted first but you could easily do this with coloured paper if that works better for you. I'm always painting paper with the students so we have a stash.