negative space leaf impressions

It’s been unseasonably warm around here — check out the flip flops and dress! And the Easter Basket there…well, would you believe it’s for collecting Fall leaves?

negative space leaf impressions

We don’t have a lot of Fall color yet, but enough leaf beauties have hit the pavement that we ventured out for some Leaf Pickin’.

negative space leaf impressions

N picked up all of her favorites. She was only limited by the amount of space she had in the basket. My plan was to take them home and make some negative space impressions of the leaves with a spray bottle.

negative space leaf impressions

When we got home we laid them all out on huge sheets of paper.

And then had a snack. Snacks are important.

If we hadn’t been so impatient, pressing the leaves for a day would have made our leaf impressions clearer, but I was working with a three-year old, and, well, they like to do things when they think of them. Patience only goes so far.

negative space leaf impressionsI filled a spray bottle with a solution of 1/2 water and 1/2 liquid watercolors. We used orange, but you could use any color.

And oh-my-goodness if this wasn’t the most fun part of the entire project!

It could have been the project all by itself.

And we could have done it outside. 😜That would have been smart.

But fortunately our table was covered with paper and plastic, and the kids sprayed to their heart’s content.

negative space leaf impressions

Despite some curling leaves, you can see that the impressions are still pretty clear. It worked best when the kids stood up on a chair and sprayed straight down. Once dry, we hung one above our play kitchen.

negative space leaf impressions

And once this was done, we went back outside for bike riding, popsicle eating, and watermelon seed spitting.

Really. It’s been that warm.

How are you enjoying these first days of Fall?


  1. We did this project again at home! Love it! As I told you, I remember doing this same idea in middle school where we used different kids of spray paint and then embellished with chalk pastels. It’s a project for any age!

    • It IS a project for any age (moms included). Or in our case, if the moms weren’t included the walls would have been bright orange too.

  2. Love it, love it, love it! Maybe we can squeeze this into our day tomorrow! Oh, and too funny…we used OUR Easter baskets for collecting goodies for our fall collages. lol

    • We could make a killing selling Leaf Collecting baskets, huh? Something to think about…

  3. I love that idea. The pictures of yoru daughter are adorable. It was warm here for a while now it’s feeling like fall again. Might just have to try this with my daughter.

    • While I’m seeing pumpkins and scarecrows at every turn, the heat is making it hard to fully embrace the season. But I’m not complaining…I know it’ll come soon enough and then I’ll be whining about all the rain.

  4. Love it! Thinking this may be a great way to keep my little one occupied while things are cooking on Thanksgiving with a cake or big cookies using food color – thanks for the inspiration!

    • Ooooh, spraying cookies or cake! Is that what I’m hearing from you? I need to try that too!

      • Trying to figure out what frostings would work best with food color – will let you know what I find out!

  5. What a fun idea! G loves any excuse to wield the spray bottle–it’s one of her favorite things to use. But my kids are so enamored of the leaves as they are that I might get resistance to spraying them with paint…I’ll have to think on this some more!

  6. Great idea! We have tons of leaves here already—-some we are pressing! C has always just enjoyed collecting leaves, but I know she will love this! What kid does not love working a spray bottle? I think I actually enjoy collecting leaves more than anyone. Every year the colors are fascinating to me. We had warm weather here last week and now 50s and 60s. Snow will be here before you know it!

  7. Can you send me a the link again to the place where you order the liquid water colors … I can’t find it now. : /

    • Hi Jane, It’s Discount School Supply, link to it above.

  8. Such a fun idea. I know my little one would love it. I was looking for liquid watercolors at Joanns the other day but I couldn’t find any. Where do you buy yours? I was thinking about ordering from dickblick.

  9. We are definitely trying this, my little girl loves spray painting so I’m sure she’s going to love it! Thanks!

    • If she loves spray painting, this is a natural next step. Thanks for leaving a comment, Lola.

  10. This is pure fun! Pari loves spraying – be it just plain water or colour water. I think taking this activity outdoors, as you suggested, would be awesome. It’s still warm here too – especially in the afternoons.

  11. What kind of paper did you use, this would be great for the Fall Playdate I’m having tomorrow!

  12. This is a great idea! I work on fine motor skill with young kids with autism, and this activities will be perfect!!! 🙂

  13. Hello,

    My family tried this for the first time tonight. I went ahead and ordered the watercolors that you recommended and some generic spray bottles. I noticed the bottles didn’t have a very good mist option just more of a jet/stream therefor they didn’t turn out. Also not sure if I sprayed too much paint. Does the spray bottle need to be on a fine mist and do you recommend taping the leaves down lightly so the spray of the paint or wind spent readjust the leaf location? Please let me know when you get a chance as o would love to try again.
    Thank you for your time,

    • Hi Catherine,
      I’m sorry it didn’t work out as expected. I think the spray bottle we used had two settings: jet and mist. The mist is what you want. We didn’t tape the leaves down, but that would certainly be helpful! The beauty of this is that your child can learn from the experiments 🙂 That’s how I look at the trial and error process, anyway.

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