Falling Leaves Art Project




I’ve been enraptured by the double-loading painting technique for over a decade. The combination of two or more colors placed intentionally on a brush produces the most magical of color combinations. I’ve used this technique with many painting projects and when I was prepping this project, it seemed like a perfect way for a child to easily paint many leaves.

This is a great project to do in the Fall but if you switch the paint colors to red and white, you can easily paint a cherry tree for Spring. I did this for a Monet-Inspired Landscape project for my book, Draw, Paint, Sparkle.

Here’s a video that shows you the process for creating this pretty fall painting:

What you’ll need:

  • 12″ x 18″ light colored sulphite drawing paper (I like Tru-Ray by Pacon)
  • Puck tempera cakes (I used Faber-Castell Connector paints)
  • Liquid tempera paints (black, white, green, yellow, orange, red, fuchsia)
  • Medium and small round pointed brush
  • Chalk Pastels
  • Optional: metallic liquid tempera paint

Painting the Grass

Start by painting a layer of grass over the bottom edge of the paper. I decided to use cake tempera paints as they dry really quickly. I selected 3-4 warm colors (red, ochre, orange and pink) but the student can select their own anagolous colors (colors beside each other on the color wheel)

Falling leaves art project- the grass

Painting the tree

Select the medium round brush and paint the trunk of the tree. It isn’t long; just paint 2-3″ up from the grass then extend the branches to each side and around the top.

Fill the tree trunk in with black paint.

Switch to the thin brush and if you want, turn the paper upside down. It’s easier to paint the twiggy limbs by pulling the paintbrush towards you instead of pushing away.

Tree limbs turn into small branches so to help the kids make branches that look realistic, show them how to place the brush on the brand and gently brush away, lifting at the very end. Sounds far more complicated than it really is.

Tip: If you use the black cake tempera, the tree trunk will dry quicker. This will allow you to paint the leaves without the paint mixing with the black paint.

Falling leaves- grass and tree

Now the fun part…painting the leaves using the double-loading technique.

Dip paintbrush in a color (red) and then immediately into the white or even yellow. You should see two colors on your brush. Dab the side of the brush against the paper. I like to cluster like colors together. So I begin with yellow/white combo and dab about 10-15 leaves around the branches and even falling from the tree. Then, without cleaning the brush, dip into orange.

Dab the resulting color around the tree branches.

Continue until you have as many leaves as you want. It’s not hard to convince kids to paint the leaves as each dab delivers a small surprise. You never really know what color they will be. If the leaves mix in with the black, no worries. It’ll just look like you added shadows!

The final step is to use a bit of chalk pastel to add some details to the tree trunk (white and brown make some interesting texture) and also in the grass.

If you remember, add some fluffy white clouds and some blue sky using chalk BEFORE you start dabbing the leaves. I didn’t remember this once in all the samples I made.  Not once. So I just added the extra color at the end.

Falling leaves end result

This project began with a light green paper. The grass uses pink, red, and orange tempera cakes and I used yellow, aqua, white and green paint for the leaves.

This might be my favorite because of the added gold tempera paint. I love this stuff.

With this one, I tried really hard to add the blue sky on the grey paper. I like the effect it gives the sky…dappled and very fall-like.

What do you think?

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  • Roberta Langman

    This is a great lesson. I’ve done it with the cherry blossoms with Kindergarten and I plan to do it with special needs kids.

  • Rita Gatti

    Great project.

  • Andee sug walker

    This is such a cute idea!

  • Donna


  • AJ

    Wonderful !!!

  • Kevy Lykiardopoulou

    So beautiful work!
    Thanks for sharing!!

  • Joy

    How inspiring to paint that! The kids will LOVE it.

    • Olga

      Love it

  • Patty Lively

    Love this!!

  • Barbara Cumming

    I am so looking forward to having my 5th grade students do this. It is a bit more challenging using different layers and weights of paint. These are great instructions. Thank you!!!

  • Amy Glover

    How can we get a resource for this lesson?

  • Tarique


  • Susan Flasco

    Absolutely beautiful:))

  • Betty

    I love these simple and fun projects, when the grands and great-grands are here, it is easy to set them up for and engaging experience …it is fun to see the older grands using what they have learned to help the younger ones. The adults and teens can have some big folks time and the littles are perfectly happy to create and have fun.

  • erick vergara

    I like this types of projects and it help with creative and also it make family bonds stronger and make greats ideas

  • Aiyanna

    This is sooooo creative

  • mduncan

    That is pretty awesome I’m going to try it with my students.

  • Kristen Palmer

    Love this!

  • Karen Hopson

    Fall leaves

  • Ilana Verschleiser

    can I do this project as well with 6 7 and 8 grade ?

    • Bethany

      Hi Ilana, this is Bethany from Team Sparkle. I reached out to our Creative Team here at Deep Space Sparkle and here is their response. The project could work well for older students, but I would consider adapting it a bit to make it a little more challenging. For example, I might consider giving them images of bare-branched trees and allow them to paint the trees from observation (rather than guiding them through the drawing), and adding in some lighter and darker values on the tree after painted (highlights and shadows) would elevate the project a bit to make it more applicable to higher grade levels. I hope that helps! Enjoy.

  • Amarion Gray

    it is a master pis.

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