Leaf Painting 101

Level Beginner 
Estimated Time: 20 Mins 
leaf painting 101



Watercolor Paper




Leaf Painting Techniques 

 The Sponge Plunge

sponge plunge

Paint Dress 

paint dress

Holy Moly 

holy moly

Fan Me Out 

fan me out



Leaf Painting Play By Play 


 The Setup 

autumn bcg


The first thing we're going to do for this leaf project is to gather our supplies. One of the fun things that you get to do with this is going outside and explore.

I went outside on a walk and collected a variety of different kinds of leave. I have some big leaves, I have a leaf that's got a bunch of holes in it. I've got this interesting stick that I think I could make unique marks with. I've got a tiny baby leaf, so all different kinds, and we're going to use the leaves to create a unique pattern and design on our paper.



paint palette




Next, you're going to need to get out your paint colors. I want mine to be pretty colorful, so that's why I'm getting out so many different colors. You can use a variety of different brushes, so I have some sponges here that I think will make really interesting marks. I have a fan brush that I think will be really neat for this project. And I just have some normal brushes of varying sizes as well as a pallet knife.





Plan Your Layout 

Plan layout


Before we begin painting is best to plan out a design of how you’d like to lay your leaves out. In this stage, I can lay a few leaves out and try to determine the most interesting design. I usually like to start with the largest leaves first and work my way down from there.  




Take The Sponge Plunge 

sponge plunge



It's now time to dive into our 4 painting techniques.  For the first method, I'm going to take my sponge and start by dipping it in the orange paint.  Once I have a little bit of orange on the tip of my sponge, I'll press down on the leaf and try to paint around the edges of the leaf. And maybe as I'm doing that, I'll pick up another color on the other side, mix some colors. So I'm going to go back in and add a little bit more of this bright green. I like how this goes off the page and then you can lift it up and you see that you have the shape of the leaf here.




Holy Moly 

holy moly

Another neat way to play with applying leaves is to paint directly over a leaf while it is on the surface. I particularly like this leaf because it has holes in it. So what I want to try and do is paint over this leaf and see what kind of shape I get.

I'm actually going to overlap this with the current shape using one of my normal brushes and I'm going to mix my white paint with a green color. Really what I'm doing is experimenting to see what kind of effects I'm going to get.

I'm just going to paint over this leaf and fill in some of the spaces and just let the shape be my guide. I want to make sure I get some paint in those holes, so that gives it a neat effect.


The Paint Dress 

paint dress


The other thing I want to try is I have these, this one big shape, three of these smaller shapes, so I want to use this tiny little one and paint around it. So I'm going to take this feather brush and I'm going to use some orange and some yellow and I'm going to do a couple of these. I'm just going to paint around it like this, maybe in a little design going, maybe I'll just paint several of them going around like this, could be cool and see how it makes this unique design.

I like using the feather brush because it gives you some interesting shapes and what this does is just, it helps, I'm creating a border with this smaller one. And I have this blank here that I really want to add something to.


Fan Me Out 

fan me out


This is the most rewarding part of the project! Take your spiffy notecard and insert it into your clear frame. You can get one that is magnetic and goes on the fridge (our personal favorite), or you can use one that sits on the countertop. Once the art is in the frame, you can write all the love notes your heart desires with your dry erase marker. Write. Impress. Erase. Repeat!


What's Next? 

what's next


So, another piece that I want to do actually is I think I want to make another big leaf shape. So I'm going to take this shaped leaf and I want to overlap the shape here with my sponge. I think I'm going to use this green because this green hasn't really been used. Press down and I'm going to overlap it a little on this other side. I'm going to actually want to overlap the shape again, so I'm going to do it again. So really with this project you can do as many layers as you like.




I want to experiment with this tool actually that I got, this was just outside and I want to see what it looks like if I roll it across. So I'm going to get it in a bunch of paint, just trying to load it up with red paint. And again, this is experimenting, marks I can get and I don't have it covered all the way, but that's okay.

You can play with your composition and just decide what else you want to do. I think for me, I want to add a little more of the dark color and I want to add a little more of these small shapes. And instead I think I want to try doing it like a stamp in a few areas, and this really makes things... The contrast of colors makes things stand out.

I think the other thing I want to do is I want to take my fan brush with some white and have a light color and I want to try painting around some shapes, has a cool look to it. And I got some black you can see in my brush here, but I'm honestly not really that bothered by it because I just want to layer some more color in that area and look how cool some of the leaves look after all this.

So another thing you could do later is you could actually collage the actual leaves onto here, which could be cool, the leaves that you've painted and that's it. You can just keep playing with it and do what you want with it. If you want to collage some of these painted leaves on onto your paper, you definitely can. Another thing that you could try doing is getting the edge of your leaf and making marks with the edge of the stem of the leaf, which is cool too.


Thanks so much for reading through, I'm excited to see how your creations turn out. Feel free to send your DIY masterpieces to amy@paintloose.com for a chance to be featured on our social media sites

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