Painting fall leaves with watercolors is a fun autumn art project for kids, teens, and adults that can be done at home or in the classroom.
Kids and adults of all ages are sure to love this simple watercolor fall leaves painting idea. Art projects with autumn leaves, like these fall leaf art projects, make it possible to create gorgeous fall art that can be framed and hung on the wall. Painting autumn leaves with watercolors, using a black resist medium is also a fun science experiment and STEAM activity for kids!
Related: The Best Fall Art Projects for Kids
Fall Leaves Resist Art Supplies
- White glue & black acrylic paint, OR, black oil pastel, OR, black crayon
- Heavy cardstock or watercolor paper
- Liquid, tube, pallet or Stockmar watercolor paint
- Paintbrushes or water brushes
- Construction paper or colored cardstock
- FREE Leaf Art Printable Templates (optional)
How to Paint Fall Leaves with Watercolors
Enjoy this watercolor fall leaves art project with children for a fun weekend project or homeschool art lesson. It provides a fantastic fall-themed art lesson in watercolor resist techniques for use at home or in the classroom.
- First, choose a black resist medium to use to create beautifully contrasting fall leaves art. Black pastel, black crayon, or black glue each make an excellent resist medium for painting autumn leaves. The directions to make black glue are listed directly below these instructions.
- Next, use the black resist medium to trace real fall leaves, or outline any of the fall leaf clip art printables (maple, oak, or beach leaf) that we provide for our newsletter subscribers.
- Finally, choose 2-3 colors of watercolor paint for each autumn leaf. Use the watercolors to paint the leaves outlined with the black watercolor resist medium.
We recommend completing this fall art project for kids in two parts or stages. Draw or trace autumn leaves the first day, and use watercolors to paint them the next. A more detailed step by step tutorial for this fall leaf art project is listed below the directions to make black glue. Scroll down if you would like to see the steps to make fall leaves art with a bit more explanation.
Related: Watercolor and Fall Leaf Art
How to Make Black Glue
- Add a squirt of black acrylic paint to a small bottle of white glue and shake well.
- Make sure the glue bottle is not full, so there is plenty of room for the ingredients to mix and blend.
- Remember that white glue dries clear. Black glue does not have to look completely black when it is wet. A greyish color will work. The white glue will appear black when it dries as long as there is some black acrylic paint mixed into it.
We have a small bottle of glue dedicated to continually mixing white glue and black acrylic paint into to make a never-ending supply of black glue. We never measure, and it always turns out fine.
Watercolor Fall Leaves Art Project: Step by Step Tutorial
If you are working with children, we recommend completing this fall art project in two parts or stages. Complete steps one and two the first day, or prepare it in advance, and come back another day to finish this fall leaves painting project for kids.
Step 1 – Choose a Watercolor Resist Medium
First, choose a black watercolor resist medium to create fall leaves art. Use black oil pastel, black crayon, or take a few minutes to make a mixture of black glue. Directions to make black glue are in the section above.
Step 2 – Draw or Trace Fall Leaves
Invite children to draw a fall leaf, trace real fall leaves, or download and print any of our fall leaf art templates–maple, oak, and beech onto heavy cardstock or watercolor paper. The preschool artist pictured below chose to trace her fall leaves watercolor art with black glue as the watercolor resist medium. Black glue requires a mindful hand. It tends to pool and spread when used in large amounts. Use it sparingly to keep beautiful lines.
Step 3 – Paint Fall Leaves with Watercolors
If you choose to use black glue as the watercolor resist medium, make sure that the black glue is completely dry (overnight is best) before you invite children to use watercolors to paint fall leaves art.
Before painting, it is a good idea to place newspaper or paper towels underneath the watercolor autumn leaf art to help soak up any excess water, especially if you are working with young children.
In our Waldorf-inspired daycare, we like to invite our preschoolers and kindergarteners to use Stockmar watercolor paints so they can have fun experimenting with color mixing. The preschool artist pictured below used red and yellow watercolor paint for the maple leaf, yellow and blue watercolor paint for the beech leaf, and all three watercolors for the oak leaf.
If your children have never worked with watercolors, we recommend preparing at least one extra fall leaf so you can demonstrate how to paint with watercolors first. Show more than tell, young children learn best by watching and imitating others.
Watercolor painting is a perfectly imperfect art form. The key to working with watercolors is to go with, as opposed to against, the way they naturally move and flow. Use water to help them flow mix and blend even more, but be careful, adding too much water can dilute the vibrancy of the colors.
The artist pictured below created orange by layering red and yellow watercolor paints as she worked to make her fall leaf art masterpiece. She has created many Waldorf-inspired wet-on-wet watercolor paintings and was ready for the challenge of painting fall leaf art with only the primary colors.
Please note: Black glue will resist watercolor paint but can pull the color black into the fall leaf watercolor painting. Be careful; if you mix in too much black acrylic paint into the white glue, or if the art gets too wet, black will seep into the fall artwork. Please have a look at our black glue rose, black glue starfish or winter tree art for more watercolor resist art tips!
The fall leaf pictured below was painted with blue and yellow Stockmar Watercolor Paints. Invite your children, or students, to give color mixing fall leaf art a try. Invite them to use two primary colors to paint each outlined fall leaf.
For more information about how to help children work with watercolors, feel free to read up about single-color, two-color, and three-color wet-on-wet watercolor painting.
Step 6 – Mount fall leaf art onto pieces of construction paper. (optional)
Once the fall leaf art has had a chance to dry, cut each of the fall leaves out, and glue them onto a piece of complementary or contrasting colored cardstock or construction paper. This step is optional but makes it possible to display or hang this fall leaves painting idea.
More Watercolor Resist Art Projects for Kids
- The Science of Watercolor Resist Art
- Rose Watercolor Resist Art
- Watercolor Surprise Heart Art
- Winter Tree Watercolor Resist Art
- Snowy Alpine Tree Watercolor Art
- Ocean-Themed Under the Sea Watercolor Resist Art Projects
- Starfish Black Glue Resist Art Project
- Watercolor Surprise Easter Egg Art
Fall leaf Art Project for Kids
Outlining fall leaves with black glue, and painting them with watercolors is a fun and easy art project for kids and adults. For more fun painting ideas, try creating fall leaves art with real fall leaves or any of these gorgeous fall craft ideas for kids. You may also like this Fall Bucket List of fun fall activities! Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
More Fall Arts, Crafts, and Autumn Activities for Kids
- Best Fall Art Projects for Kids
- Leaf Baby
- Watercolor and Fall Leaves Art
- Fall Leaf Lacing
- Turkey Leaf Lantern
- Fall Nature Craft Ideas
- Marbled Clay Gratitude Leaves
- Acorn Marble Necklaces
- How to Make a Thankful Tree with Real Leaves
- Fall Books for Kids
- Fall Bucket List of Fun Fall Activities