Monday, October 19, 2015

Color Options for Fall Papier Mache Leaves

I'd like to say it felt like Fall around these parts, but 80° and 81% humidity is NOT my idea of Fall. Ah, well -- maybe next week -- at least some leaves are turning.

Last week we talked about making papier mache leaves as an easy introduction to the process. (See here.) This week it's all about color choices for those leaves.

First, you have to decide if you want to paint right over the newspaper layer (providing you didn't papier mache a final layer of white newsprint), or apply a layer of gesso to the leaves. My preference is for gesso, but it can be messy to clean up with really little kids. These have their gesso layer:

There are so many possibilities for color themes for the leaves!! I find this a great time to introduce or review color systems:

The simplest option is to go with actual leaf colors, applying paint with either a sponge or brush. Of course, it is nice to have real leaves as reference.

You will see that this leaf wasn't gessoed first.
One of my favorite color applications for a project like this is to combine a little Art History lesson and then let students practice their "color matching" skills by mixing the colors they see in well known artists' paintings and using those colors to design their leaves:

This and the example below were both done with watercolors.

You can tailor the difficulty of the color matching to the abilities of you students. The above samples are a bit trickier. The examples below don't require mixing, just color matching and are easier with respect to color. The precision, however, because of the straight lines can me more difficult. I would choose artist samples taking into consideration grade levels or skill levels.

These were done using acrylics.
Next week will be Part 3 of this lesson where we put together the leaves looking at form and balance.


  1. One of my favorite color applications for a project like this
    Try this Arun

  2. I was just thinking that a great addition to these after they are painted, if you go with sponge-painting natural colors, would be to use Elmer's Glue and yarn to create the veining in the leaves. Or instead of painting, doing tippissue collage could be cool too. So many possibilities. I'm looking forward to seeing how you choose to display them - on a big tree? Or hanging from the ceiling like they are falling? I may have to try to make one myself and add it to my repertoire if it is successful!

    1. My original idea was to make a collaborative project with LOTS of hanging leaves, but am going smaller with individual mobiles. I'd love for someone out there to try the project big scale!!