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How to Make Painted Paper Leaves

by Jean Van't Hul
July 17, 2022
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Create beautiful painted paper leaves and assemble together to make a paper autumn tree with this fall art activity.

Updated August 2022

A Fall Art Activity for Kids

This painted paper leaves activity comes from my book, The Artful Year: Celebrating the Seasons & Holidays with Crafts & Recipes. I think painted fall paper leaves is the perfect craft to do on a cool, crisp fall day!

This is an easy fall art activity that my girls and I have done a number of times over the years and think your family will enjoy it too.

Two girls painting wax resist paper leaves with watercolor paints on the floor

Painted Paper Leaves

From The Artful Year, by Jean Van’t Hul, © 2015 by Jean Van’t Hul. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boulder, CO.

Besides creating art and crafts with real leaves, we can take inspiration from nature and paint our own autumn leaves.


Three painted fall paper leaves


  1. Cover work surface.

    Protect your work surface with a waterproof tablecloth, place mat, or newspaper (the paint soaks through the paper leaves and is not completely washable).

  2. Paint with watercolors.

    Use droppers or brushes to transfer the watercolor paint to the paper leaves. Try more than one color per leaf and watch as the paint colors spread and merge.

    Liquid watercolor paints and brushes in glass jars with wax resist paper leaves

  3. Dry painted paper leaves.

    Let the leaves dry. Hang them on a paper tree, in a window, or create a garland with them.

    Girl hanging painted paper leaves on a brown paper tree

Note: Precut leaves can be purchased, or cut your own from coffee filters or paper using leaf templates.

Oil pastels and paper leaves – fall art project for kids


  • Draw veins (or any pictures, designs, and so on) on the paper leaves first with crayons or oil pastels, then paint over the picture for a watercolor-resist effect. (The wax and oil of crayons and oil pastels prevent the water-based paint from adhering. This technique is especially effective with a white or light-colored crayon and a darker paint.)
  • Do a leaf rubbing on the paper leaf first with the side of a crayon (place a real leaf under the paper leaf), then paint.
  • Use a dropper to paint a leaf with a generous amount of watercolor paint, then sprinkle it with salt. Leave the salt on until the leaf is dry, then rub it off.
Wax resist leaf rubbing on fall paper leaf

How to Make an Autumn Paper Tree

A fun, seasonal way to use these painted paper leaves is to create a tree! Use brown kraft paper or construction paper and draw the shape of a tree; cut it out and attach to a wall. Then, using your new leaves, decorate the tree!

Painted paper leaf tree with Halloween cardboard house

More Fall Art Activity for Kids

2021 Halloween Course Graphics

Autumn Arts & Crafts Ideas & Supplies

Download our FREE printable idea list of 30 autumn activities for kids & families! Or check out the blog post with the links. So many fun ideas for fall!

And be sure to check out our FALL family fun list in our Amazon store! It includes supplies for fall arts & crafts, autumn toys, Halloween ideas, and picture books about autumn.

PLUS: We’re offering 50% OFF and MORE on our Kids Art Spot Halloween workshops, Fall workshops and bundles. (Sale ends October 31, 2021 at 11:59 pm EST)

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