I believe in making art out of what’s available, using what you have. In Ohio right now we have an abundance of leaves. It’s green everywhere. Although this lushness won’t last forever while it’s here it’s pretty awesome and using the greenery to make more beautiful art just seems natural. All you need for these leaf mandala prints is some pretty little leaves and some watercolor paints!
A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. In common use, “mandala” has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe. We will be using the term “mandala” in the most generic sense here; referring to a circular design with radial symmetry.
For more information and a free printable about the concept of symmetry see this post!
Leaves. You will need leaves and smaller leaves will work better. Leaves that consist of one main shape work better for this project than compound leaves like a fern leaf.
You also need watercolor paints. Dry cake student grade watercolors like this Crayola set will work just fine.
Smooth white paper will work best to print on. You don’t need super heavy duty paper for this but the bigger the better! I used 12 x 18 paper but if I had had bigger paper we would have enjoyed using it!
We like using this paper for an unusual, budget friendly solution for larger sized paper!
Learning about radial balance…
This is a great opportunity to talk to your kids about different kinds of balance. Here we will be working is a circular fashion and using radial balance. Radial balance is a type of balance which all elements radiate out from a center point in a circular fashion. All elements lead your eye towards the center.
If you’re working on a paper with limited size it can be helpful to find the center of your paper so you can make the most of it. We used a ruler and did this together before starting. We marked the center with an inconspicuous pencil dot.
You could even fold your paper into fourths if your kids are young or you have a very large group.
The concept of balance is one of the principles of design. For more information about the concept of balance and a free printable that helps explain all the principles of design check out this post!
Leaf mandala printing…
This printing process is so simple and results in such pretty prints. Lay your chosen leaf on a paper towel. Choosing leaves that are small in size will help this be a success! Large leaves tend to be dry on one side by the time you’re finished painting the whole thing and this results in a stingy, pale print. Think small leaves of a somewhat simple shape that can be easily painted with color.
Brush the back of the leaf with watercolor paint. A less water more paint ratio will give the brightest prints.
Flip leaf over onto white paper and pat gently. I found that I could get at least two, sometimes three prints, before having to paint again.