IF Kids Project :: Leaf Studies with Watercolors

Gardens are an excellent source for inspiration. I love to walk around them watching the buzz of activity as bumble bees seek pollen and butterflies dance in the sky. The variety of leaves one can find is astounding! They come in so many shapes and sizes. And have you noticed that some have smooth edges while others are zigzagged?

Let’s have fun studying leaves while creating a cool composition!

To get started you will need: 

– pencil
– eraser
– paper
– watercolor pencils
– watercolor paint set
– brush
– jar of water
– paper towel
– leaves 

Let’s create! 

1.  Collect leaves.
Go out in your garden and collect and assortment of leaves. Freshly picked large ones are the easiest to use, but even small delicate ones may incorporated. If it is winter and your garden is asleep, use a few from house plants.

2. Arrange your leaves.
Lay your leaves on your paper. Move them around, turning them in different angles. Let a few go off the edge of the page.

3.  Trace your leaves.
Once you are satisfied with your composition, trace each of the leaves. This takes some patience. Start with the big ones that are extra sturdy to get in some practice before you move to delicate ones with zigzag edges. If you make a mistake, no worries, that’s why erasers were invented.

4. Trace over your lines with watercolor pencil.
When you have finished tracing, remove your leaves. Trace over your lines with watercolor pencils. You can use the same color for each leaf or go wild and mix it up by changing colors with each leaf. Watercolor pencils are super fun to use as they allow you to draw delicate lines, but when you run a wet brush over them they will transform into watercolor paint.

5.  Color your background.
Fill in the background, the space around your leaves, with watercolor paint or use your watercolor pencils and run a wet brush over your coloring.  Don’t forget to let your painting dry before you move it!

Tip:  Before switching colors, rinse your watercolor rush out with water and dry it off on the paper towel. This will keep your colors from mixing and turning brown.

* * * This post is by IF Kids Guest Contributor Lindsay Obermeyer. Lindsay is an artist, designer and author with a passion for textiles, color and chocolate. She views her role as artist to be synonymous with that of an educator and as such has always included teaching as part of her art practice. She’s never sure who learns more, her or her students.  


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Thomas James

Thomas James

Thomas James is an Illustrator who has worked with The New York Times, WIRED, Pentagram, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. You can see his portfolio at thomasjamesillustration.com.
Thomas James

Posted by Thomas James on 10/03/12 under IF Kids
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