Friday, July 3, 2009

Leaf Art

Turning fallen leaves into works of art.

Some of the Year 5 children at my local primary school were looking through my artwork portfolio and become incredibly excited about three paintings I did while on holidays a few years ago. I had run out of watercolour paper so the paintings were done in acrylic directly onto dead leaves picked out of the resort's garden. There were two simple little seascapes and a silhouette of a Whistling Kite on a sunset background.

One of the girls asked, "If I find a leaf, can you paint a pictur for me?"

I was a little distracted at that moment and without really thinking about it said, "Yeah, I probably could."

A few minutes later five of the kids had returned with leaves for me to paint.

Now, I have orders for a butterfly, a mermaid, a cat, a surfboard with a tikki on it, and a fairy - actually three pretty fairies in a garden, one with blond hair and a purple dress, one with brown hair and a pink dress and one with black hair and a blue dress, all holding wands in one hand and a basket of cut picked flowers in the other. (It's nice to know exactly what you want) Mind you this is all to be painted onto a gum leaf less than 20cm long so the fairies will end up being about 15mm tall.

I had to call a halt to it there or half the school would have turned up with leaves for me to paint. As it was, there were quite a few disappointed kids. One commented that she wished she could do leaf paintings herself.

Not a bad idea.

The technique is simple enough for children to pick up and you don't need a wealth of artistic tallent to do them. Some very simple designs can be very effective. I started to put together a step-by-step tutorial on leaf art, gearing up to run a workshop for the children interested in learning how to do the paintings themselves.

I soon discovered, it wouldn't take too much more effort to expand the tutorial into a fully fledged how-to ebook. Along with the basic techniques, I'm going to document the process of painting the leaves for my Year 5 kids - from brief, to design, to finished painting - as part of the book.

I have completed the first commissioned leaf, the butterfly and its new owner was ecstatic with the result. Her mum is getting it framed for her so it won't get damaged.

I will post a link to the tutorial, one it is complete.



  1. This is such a great idea Jeff. Looking forward to reading the e-book when it's done. I'd love to use it in my teaching.

  2. I'm going off the e-book idea. I'm looking for a unique hook to pitch at publishers. But I will send you a copy of the tutorial when that is finished if you like.