Painting With Leaves

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The recent storms left Nature’s bounty all over the College of Marin parking lot. Maple leaves the size of dinner plates were strewn everywhere! Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman was inspired by this harvest of leaves. She worked with students in the Special Day Classroom at College of Marin to collect the leaves. Then using pastels in a variety of colors, students traced the leaves, overlapping them in some instances. Using small bottles filled with watercolor, they applied paint quickly and freely. The results were beautiful. The same project was tried later at a different school with smaller leaves (and colored paper), but somehow the big ones worked best. The larger leaves seemed to inspire students to work more freely and made the blank paper less daunting. The thick white paper also proved to be the ideal canvas to showcase the beauty and transparency of watercolors.
The idea was to explore color and composition using the “resist” method, with the pastel lines acting as a barrier to the paint. It was interesting to watch how the leaves inspired the artists’ work. Some drew the leaves quite realistically, while others used them as a departure point for more abstract compositions.
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