Sunday, November 14, 2010

DIY leaf watercolors

i thought it was about time i posted a tutorial. i've made them before, but never for my own blog and i loved painting these leaves this week, so i thought maybe i'd share {plus, how else am i going to post all these photos of my beautiful thumb?}

 watercolor paper
a paint brush
a pencil
art masking fluid {with the painting supplies at any craft store}
 watercolors {which i forgot to photograph. but i think we all know what they look like}

step 1: trace some leaves onto a sheet of watercolor paper. i downloaded a leaf template i found on martha because i can't draw, but feel free to make your own! 
i tried to fit as many leaves as possible on one sheet.

step 2: use a fine paintbrush and the masking fluid to paint the leaf veins. the masking fluid will block the watercolors, so only paint where you don't want color. the masking fluid is slightly yellow, so you can see where you've painted. it can also really gum up on your paintbrush {you can see it on mine} so make sure you don't use your favorite brush and wash it right away. i can't always get it completely clean again.

i painted from the stem to the tip of the leaf, and then from the main vein out. this keeps globs of masking fluid from collecting at the end of the veins, which doesn't look as natural.

step 3: let it dry and then paint with watercolors! i like "dabbing" the paint on rather than using strokes and making the leaf all one color. make sure you don't leave any white spots and you go over the edges of the leaf. just paint right over the masking fluid, the color won't leak through.

 step 4: after it is completely dry you can pull off the masking fluid. i use an eraser to get it started

 and then it just pulls right off!

step 5: finish pulling the rest of the masking fluid off of all the leaves and then cut them out.

 i'm thinking of making little "bouquets" of leaves for our thanksgiving table or attaching them to a wreath. they're not nearly as gorgeous as the real thing, but much more sturdy and the colors won't fade. plus, i can't resist trying something new!


  1. masking fluid is tricky; I used to use a blown glass pen to apply masking fluid to some of my projects, I was able to get fine details and the dried mask peeled off the pen nib just like paper.

  2. i guarantee mine would not turn out well :)

  3. Those are lovely. Thanks for the inspiration

  4. i love the theme of your blog. whenever i stop by, my jaw drops. literally.

  5. Wow. These are just gorgeous, Angie!

  6. INCREDIBLE .... ABSOLUTELY STUNNING.... thank you so much for sharing. I am definitely going to try my hand at this project. I am obsessed with Autumn leaves!!!