Autumn branches: Leaf Print Project #1 (October 2011)

Leaf printing (like potato printing) is one of those art activities that every child tries at some time in their early life, but it is actually much more difficult to achieve satisfying results than you might think! For the art teacher, it is not always an appealing prospect – it can be incredibly messy and, although it’s a fun technique, the leaf prints alone do not always produce an aesthetically-pleasing end result.

Last year I decided to try something slightly different and use the leaf prints to create pictures of autumnal tree branches. After collecting leaves in our nearby garden, we studied them closely and the children observed that many of the leaves were, in fact, multi-coloured, with green, brown, orange and yellow patches.

They started their pictures by using oil pastels to draw a tree branch and then used small sponges to dab different paint colours onto the back of leaves. Each leaf was placed face-down on the paper, trying to line up the stalk with the twigs they had drawn. Then they covered the leaf with a piece of newspaper before carefully rubbing it with their fingers to create the print. It took a bit of practice to get the perfect leaf print, but everyone had fun and I think the final pictures capture the feeling of autumn.

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