Fall Trees and Leaves

DSCF1557On these beautiful fall days, the Art Studio likes to take advantage of the weather by drawing and painting outside. “En plein air” is a French expression which refers to the act of painting outdoors in natural light and capturing what the eye actually sees. The subject for our outdoor painting was a beautiful maple tree just outside of the art studio. The children studied the tree, in particular, the leaves, trunk and branches, before drawing with chalk pastels and paint sicks. Then they dotted warm-colored tempera paints to create the allusion of fall foliage.


“That’s my favorite tree!”

“I drawed some leaves that fell. I’m doing the lines of the leaves that are falling.”

“I see all the colors on the ground too. Trees grow from a seed. The leaves turn colors because it is getting cold out.”

“They turn colors because fall is not summer anymore.”


The following week, the children took a closer look at the leaves. They studied the shapes, colors and textures by tracing the leaves on acetate. This is harder than it looks. The children must draw slowly and pay attention to tiny details, like points and curves, while drawing. This supports hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills important for future writing endeavors.

This was a difficult concept for some of the children to grasp at first, and instead of tracing around the silhouette of the leaf, they drew a circle around the outside. After they tried it a few times, most of them were able to slow down, and concentrate on the shape of the leaf while drawing.DSCF1790DSCF1784DSCF1795

“Is this how you do it? Why do you have to go slow? I saw brown and yellow and green on my leaf. We already did the Maple tree. Now we need to draw the leaves.”

“I see red in my leaf. I did another one that is a different color. This one has a little bit green for the veins and also a little yellow.”


Reflection by Danya Lanphear, Art Specialist

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