Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Fall Swirls

The trees are a swirl of brightly coloured leaves, or at least they were until we had some really strong winds and they all blew away.

Here is a great little fall project.


- nice paper for painting on
- green masking tape (painter's tape) optional
- acrylic or liquid tempera paints
- pencil or black pencil crayon
- oil pastels


Tape paper onto art board using masking tape.  This will give us a nice white border.

Using white and blue paint your background.  You want a white oval off centre and then light blue and darker blue.  Have the kids paint in a circular motion.

Set aside to dry.

This one was with acrylic.

I did this one with disk tempera to compare.

Starting with brown, paint dashes around our oval.

With brown we stay away from the white oval.

We then add orange covering some of our brown dashes and work a little closer into the oval.

After orange we add yellow.

As we get into the centre with the yellow add a little white paint to mix a really light yellow.

Set aside to dry.

When the paint is dry remove the tape.

With a pencil or black pencil crayon draw your tree trunk.  You want to come from the corner closest to the centre of your swirl.

You want it to look like you are looking up into the tree.

Using black oil pastel go over your tree trunk lines and fill in.

Now you could just leave it at this point but oil pastel looks better if you blend it a bit.

In my studio I would just use a paper tortillion but at school we don't have them around so the kids use a q-tip.

If my lines are quite fine I will take the q-tip and break and use the little broken end to blend my fine branches.

Here is a comparison of acrylic vs liquid tempera.

The acrylic covers better (more opaque) so your lights are brighter.  For the liquid tempera I added some dashes in pencil crayon in orange, yellow, and light yellow to help with this after the paint was dry.



  1. What a great project! Thank you.

  2. Beautiful! Looks like a fairy easy project to do with kids too. I just love all your ideas.

  3. Beautiful! Do you think that regular, cheap masking tape (that doesn't hold things up well on the walls) would work in place of the painter's tape?

    1. You can try it. The biggest issues with regular masking tape are that it is too sticky and then can rip the paper when you try to remove it or it doesn't stick at all and when the paint/moisture hits it just peels off. I would do a test on a little piece of the paper you plan to use to see how it reacts.

  4. Thanks for this. I'm introducing acrylics with 5th grade and needed a project that I could adapt to my desert landscape and this step by step look at your great project gave me a focus. This show movement as well.