Art School | Fall of the Leaf

by , posted on September 25th, 2012 in Art School

On all the blogs I follow I have been reading all about the first signs of fall popping up around the country lately. Sadly, there are not really any signs where I live in Southern California, but I will live vicariously through all of you. With fall officially beginning on September 22 this year I thought it only appropriate to start with an introduction to autumn art lesson.

The autumn season is going to be our focus today. It’s a beautifully simple art lesson that is not your typical watercolor project. This one is multi-dimensional, and the final piece is breathtaking.

Let’s begin with a little lesson on the gorgeous fall or autumn season. Here in the Northern Hemisphere it marks the transition from summer to winter in the month of September. Most depictions of autumn in art include harvest themes, pictures of fruits, vegetables and grain that ripen this time of year. An interesting little tidbit is that the term “fall” most likely is referring to the expression fall of the leaf.

Fall of the leaf is exactly what our art lesson will depict today. Ahead of time you will want to have your child gather a few fallen leaves from outside. Variety of color and shape is great. It’s a nice activity to do after school one day or as a family walk in the evening. While doing this you can point out to your children that autumn is the time of year when most trees’ leaves change color, some turn to yellow or red, different oranges and brown. And once the leaves change color, the trees drop these leaves in preparation of winter and next year the trees’ new leaves will appear.

Supplies: Black watercolor liquid, watercolor paper, straw, white glue, dried leaves, bowl and spoon

If moist, dry your leaves by placing them on paper towels or inside near a window. Once dry you will want to rip up the leaves up into smaller pieces about the size of your thumbnail, and then set those aside.

To start, make sure your watercolor paper is vertical on a flat surface. Pour a small amount of black watercolor in a small bowl. Using a spoon, either you or your child will want to pour a small amount (1 teaspoon approx.) of watercolor a few inches from the bottom edge of the paper, centered. This will begin the base of the tree trunk.

Next have your children angle their straw and begin to blow gently through the straw moving the watercolor up the paper, this will create the tree trunk and the branches of the tree.

As the trunk is slowly formed they can move their straw around to create branches of all different lengths. If needed, you can add a drop of two more of watercolor. But for this lesson it’s good to keep in mind less is more.

It should only take a few minutes to dry. It may look something resembling this.

Once dry they can use white glue to secure their leaves onto the tree, some on the ground, some falling, whatever autumn depiction they would like. Set aside for the glue to dry before picking the piece up.

Once complete they will have a beautiful autumn piece of art depicting the fall of the leaf. Here is a finished piece by a first grader.

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15 Responses to “Art School | Fall of the Leaf”

  1. Jen Says:

    September 26th, 2012 at 1:45 am


  2. Jillian in Italy Says:

    September 26th, 2012 at 7:31 am


  3. aMuse Toys Says:

    September 26th, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Beautiful! We’ll definitely have to try this one out.

  4. Helen Says:

    September 27th, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Can’t wait to do this with my girls – what a lovely tree.

  5. Rebecca Cooper Says:

    September 27th, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    This is SO adorable Jennifer! I’ve just found out next family art project. Pinning ASAP!! :)

    Jennifer Cooper Reply:

    Deborah from My Life at Playtime does such a wonderful job with these, doesn’t she?! You should check out her blog. It’s gorgeous:

  6. Kimara Says:

    September 27th, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    What a wonderful project and such a lovely way to welcome autumn. I’ll be linking to this on’s Facebook page. Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Jane Says:

    September 28th, 2012 at 8:31 am

    This turned out beautifully!

  8. Deborah Says:

    September 28th, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I’m so excited you all love this project as much as I do! And the fact that each and every tree is as unique as our children is so wonderful.

  9. Carla Says:

    October 1st, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    This is so beautiful!

  10. Diane Says:

    November 4th, 2012 at 12:12 am

    This is lovely! I remember blowing through a straw to make patterns with paint as a child, but adding the autumn leaves takes it to a whole other level. Great stuff!

    (I think ‘vertical’ should read ‘horizontal’ though. Sorry…)

  11. Felicia Says:

    November 12th, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    What a great project. I really love this one. Maxwell would love to blow into that straw! xF

  12. Lisa Says:

    November 25th, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    My 6 yr old said ‘wow now that is real art!”

  13. Family Tree Says:

    November 26th, 2013 at 10:51 am

    [...] the straw (if you need a refresher, you can see the technique from this lesson) gently blow the watercolor in an upwards [...]

  14. Art School | Using Negative Space to Create a Winter Wonderland Says:

    December 10th, 2013 at 11:16 am

    [...] So I thought we should start off our December lessons with a winter tree scene. We learned in the Fall of the Leaf lesson that trees’ leaves start to turn and fall off the branches in autumn, but for winter you’ll [...]

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