Hand colored leaves add a little bit of extra pattern and color to the already detailed beauty of real leaves!

Materials for making hand colored leaves…

You only need two things for this leaf art- leaves and oil pastel crayons.

We used pressed leaves because the leaf being very flat does make it much easier to color on. I had two batches of pressed leaves.  One group of leaves had been waiting between the pages of books for several weeks. The other group was fresher. These leaves had only been pressed for a couple of days. They were pressed flat but were not yet completely dry.  The fresher of the pressed leaves were easier to color on because they were less fragile.

To press leaves for this project just gather up a few leaves and lay them between pages of a magazine or book. Make sure it’s not a precious book because the moisture in the leaf can sometimes cause some wrinkling of book pages that does not go away. Leave them there for a day or two until they’re nice and flat but not completely dried up and brittle.

hand colored leaf art with oil pastels

The best oil pastels….

You’ll also need oil pastels. Oil pastels are a little softer than a typical wax crayon.  That makes it easier to deposit the pigment onto the leaf. My favorite oil pastels for kids are these Crayola oil pastels. I like them because they’re a little chubbier in shape which makes them easy for little hands to hold and less likely to break! They’re also so inexpensive and come with lots of great colors.  If I could recommend investing in one art supply beyond crayons it would be oil pastels!

hand colored leaf art with oil pastels

Coloring on leaves…

These hand colored leaves are more of an invitation to create art rather than a step by step project. There’s no wrong way to do it.  I suggest setting up a station with the required materials and setting your students free!

Encourage kids to experiment with different methods of applying the oil pastels. Here are some ideas we tried….

-use the veins on the leaves as a guide for coloring

-create patterns

-use the side of an oil pastel to “rub” over the leaf and highlight the veins

-blend oil pastels by layering one color over another

hand colored leaf art with oil pastels

Other leaf art ideas…

All you need for these realistic leaf rubbings is crayons.

Use washable markers for these rainbow leaf prints!

These magic leaf rubbing just use one new material that brings the magic!

Watercolor leaf prints are no fail and SO beautiful!

hand colored leaf art with oil pastels

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The Artists and the Elements is an elementary and middle school age art resource that connects the elements of art, art history, and fun, hands on projects!