Paint plus leaf. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. This is a great project if you want to make something, but aren’t feeling too artistically inclined. You’ll be surprised how a tiny bit of paint dabbling recharges and refuels your creative energy. It’s that “What if…?” effect taking place.
To get started, gather up a bit of washed cotton fabric*, fabric paint**, paint brushes and leaves. Green leaves that aren’t too slick seem to work best. I’ve had good luck with maple, oak, and walnut leaves. Holly leaves seem to be a bit too smooth to hold the paint. Dried and fragile end of season leaves usually won’t hold up to the process.
Protect your work surface with a plastic drop cloth or old shower curtain liner and place the fabric right side up on the flat surface. Paint one side of a leaf with fabric paint. Use paint straight out of the jar, mix colors on a palette, or right on the leaf! There’s no right or wrong here. Once the leaf is lightly coated with paint, place it paint side down on the cotton fabric and gently press the painted leaf to the fabric with your fingers. Don’t forget the stem! When you’re sure you’ve finger-pressed the entire leaf, carefully lift the leaf away from the fabric. Congratulations! You’ve just made a print!
Each leaf can be used several times. Try both sides of leaves to see which works best. Don’t worry about smudged edges–it just adds to the effect. To make the yellow-orange sample shown at top, I painted the leaf, placed it on the fabric, and smoothed the back of the leaf with my brush. While the leaf was still on the fabric, I brushed a bit of extra paint around the leaf edges to help define the shape.
Overlap leaves to create a collage, or use leaf shapes as a resist and paint around the edges. Try both drybrush (not much water) and wet effects. There’s so much you can do with this one simple technique!
*Washing the fabric removes any manufacturer finishes that might interfere with paint adhesion.
**I used Jacquard’s Textile paints for the samples shown here. A great selection of colors is available, and the paints can be heat set with a few seconds of ironing.