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We had a great time creating these watercolor & glue-resist fall leaves this week, and they turned out gorgeous! 
 
We followed the basic directions from Deep Space Sparkle (LOVE her art blog!), with these modifications:
~We used REAL (collected) leaves which we traced and used for color inspiration.
~Aaaand…since my 3 and 5 year old are still a little crazy when it comes to GLUE, I did the glue-outlining for them. 
 
For this project, you’ll need:
:: An assortment of colorful fall leaves
:: Water color paper (I used student quality, 90lb)
:: Paint brushes
:: Watercolor paints~nothin’ fancy here, we used Crayola brand
:: Pencil for tracing
:: Black-colored glue*
:: Table salt
:: Containers for mixing water colors
:: Paper towels for each child
 
*To color your glue: 
Add a squirt or two of black acrylic paint to a bottle of Elmer’s school glue. You don’t actually need all that much.  Just add it to your (partially filled) glue bottle and give it a mix with the back of a paintbrush.


Note: a basic watercolor resist can also be accomplished using a black oil pastel crayon in place of the glue.  You won’t have the cool raised-edge on your leaves, but you will still have a great resist piece when you’re finished.

 
Step One:
 Collect leaves!

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Step Two:
  Have each child choose 3 or 4 leaves, and arrange them on their paper so they’re not overlapping or crowding each other out.  If you have super large leaves, use less.

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Step Three:
 With one hand pressing down on your first leaf, LIGHTLY trace around it with pencil.  Once it’s traced, have your kids add the center vein, and some of the smaller side veins, but don’t go crazy with details.  You will be adding a glue outline over your pencil, and believe me, it’s MUCH harder to do all those small lines!
Trace out all leaves onto paper.  

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Step Four:
 Now use the colored glue to trace around your pencil lines.This part can be tricky!  If your kids are very young, I recommend that you do it for them, or do hand-over-hand to help them.  
Don’t stress if you get some big blobs and drips here and there.  In the end, it will still look great.

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Step Five:
Let glue dry.  This will take quite a while, and we just left ours up on the shelf and finished the next day.
 
Step Six:
Prepare watercolors.  No need to get fancy here.  Any watercolors will do.
I like to mix up a few lighter washes for my kids using these little dollar-store containers I have (10 for $1 SCORE!).  I sometimes make up different color combinations for them as well.  It’s just fun to have some options once they get painting.
For darker colors, the kids can dip their wet brushes right into the dry watercolor paint and give it a mix.  

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Step Seven:
Time to paint!  
I’ve yet to meet a child who did not love painting.  It’s just one of those wonderful things in life, so hopefully you have your own leaf to paint too, mama! 
You can set some perimeters for your kids, or not, it’s up to you.  I encouraged my children to look at the actual colors of the real fall leaves that we collected, and use them as inspiration.  They all had the prettiest blends of colors, and we scattered them about the table to use for reference.  
My older two had fun trying to mimic some of the colors in the leaves.  
My oldest got pretty close on some of hers!
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My youngest little artist preferred to do his own thing completely, which was fine.  
 
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Finally, we colored the area around the leaves.
 
Step Eight:
Apply salt to get that cool mottled look. 
 Ok, this is always a favorite part for the kids.  When the paint is still wet, have them sprinkle a small amount of table salt onto the watercolor.  My kids kinda overdid it, and I only had coarse salt on hand, but it still created the neatest effect.

When it’s dry, you can brush off the excess salt easily.
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My daughter took hers a step farther and did some paint splattering to get some of those spots onto her leaves, as you can see here:
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How pretty is that?! I just love those speckles!
 
All that’s left now is to let your paintings dry flat, then display them someplace to enjoy their beauty!
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That’s it.  We’ll see you all soon.
 
Happy Fall art-making, friends!
 
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2 thoughts on “Watercolor and Glue Fall Leaves

  1. Amy Maze

    Yes, seriously beautiful! What a neat project. I don’t think I ever get those nice of colors using watercolor paints. Maybe it’s because I don’t keep a separate water for each color…that’s what you did, right? I”ll have to try that.

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