This leaf mandala drawing is not only a beautiful fall art project but also dives into some really meaty art concepts like balance and pattern. Let’s make something!
Materials for a leaf mandala….
The only real required materials for this fall art project are pencil, a black marker, and a compass. White paper either 8.5 x 11 or 12x 18 will be great- depending on how much drawing your students would like to do.
At the end of this project I’ll show you a fun way to add a splash of color using washable markers. But if you prefer you could easily sub in watercolors or even crayon for this step! Use what you have!
Draw a leaf…
Step number one is to draw the outline of a leaf-BIG! If you have time step outside and gather a few real leaves to use as reference. If not a quick search on the internet will give you some nice leaf shapes to refer to.
The shape of the leaf can be as simple or as complex as your student chooses but it must be big so there is plenty of room to draw on the inside. No veins or details need to be drawn on the inside of the leaf- save that for the mandala design!
Draw concentric circles….
Concentric circles are circles that share the same center. Concentric circles will make up the structure of the mandala, or the rings that will be filled with designs.
Begin by choosing a “center” for the mandala. It’s not important that the center me the mathematical center of the paper or even center of the leaf. Guesstimate and make a tiny pencil mark to mark the center.
Put the sharp end of your compass on the center mark and draw a small circle. If the circles goes outside of the leaf shape lift the lead up and continue around. Continue doing this same process, always starting with the same center spot, and draw circles of varying sizes. Fill the leaf silhouette so there are no large open areas.
If your leaf is especially long it may be impossible to draw circles large enough to fill the entire shape. If that happens to you or one of your students just do the best you can to fill the leaf shape. Then add another ring or two free hand, following the curve of the circle before.
Outline the leaf silhouette….
Grab a black marker, preferably permanent. Use that marker to outline the leaf silhouette. Do not outline the circles with black marker. Some of the concentric circles may be outline as part of the mandala design but some may not.
Add designs to your leaf mandala….
Use the same black marker to begin to add designs to each ring of the mandala. Think simple. It’s easy to go back in and add more lines/ shapes to create more complex patterns.
Encourage students to consider the consider the idea of balance here. The design will be most interesting if the balance of black to white somewhat equal. That means using a variety of line types, both thick and thin, will create a great sense of balance.
Also encourage your students to use a variety of line types- wavy, straight, etc. This will create a nice variety in the design.
Add color to create contrast….
I love the idea of adding a bit of color to this black and white drawing. It creates such a such a great element of contrast. I’m going to present a method of adding color that requires only washable markers. But, you could add a splash of color in a hundred different ways. Grab crayons, watercolor paints, or oil pastels. Any one of these media would be a great way to add some color to the negative space, or the background, in this leaf drawing.
Adding color using washable markers….
An easy way to add color that looks like paint without using paint is to use washable markers. Choose a handful of colors to use. They will be blending together so choosing analogous colors will help them to blend together nicely. See this post on color theory for more about analogous colors.
Color, even scribble around the leaf. It’s not super important that it be very neat. the goal is just to deposit some color into the negative space.
Next, grab water and and a clean, soft paintbrush. Add water to the marker ad it will begin to move around and resemble watercolor paint. Sometimes this “activation” can take a minute or two. Encourage kids not to “scrub” their paper but to add a drop or two of water and gently move the colors around.
This creates a nice halo effect of color around the black and white design of the leaf mandala.
Other leaf art projects…
Do you want more of this leaf mandala drawing lesson….
I’ve created an entire bundle of resources to make teaching this leaf mandala drawing lesson a breeze. When you sign up for the full lesson here’s what you’ll get….