Painting Leaves Part 2: Abstract Tutorial

Abstract painted leaves

Abstract painted leaf

Fall art project - painted leaves

This blog post is part of a 3 part series on different ways to paint fall leaves. You can find the other tutorials here: sunflowers and spiderwebs. Have fun!

Fall is my favorite time of the year and I thought I'd celebrate Autumn Equinox with an art project inspired by the season! I decided to replace my sketchbook pages with some fall leaves and tried painting them in a few different ways: adding sunflowers with a brush, experimenting with abstract and palette knives, and doing something a little more Halloween inspired with spiderwebs.

Trying a new canvas was interesting and I had a lot of fun painting leaves and seeing how each one turned out! 

I hope you'll take a stroll outside, pick up some leaves, and see where inspiration takes you! If you'd like to try creating some abstract art on leaves with palette knives, here are two methods to try with photos and some tips:


  • Leaf/leaves (not too dried otherwise it may easily crack--I used a dry leaf as well as fresh eucalyptus leaves)
  • Acrylic paint: I used a gold/white/dark green palette along and fall colors such as yellow, orange, brown, and red (I like Liquitex brand acrylics as they are a bit thicker consistency)
  • Palette for paint (you can use a paper plate, yogurt lid, it doesn’t have to be fancy!)
  • Palette knives, I used a small one and a rounded one, you can try whichever knife shapes you'd like!
  • Cup of water to clean brush between colors
  • Paper towel to dab brush so it’s not too wet 


1.    Start applying colors to your leaf with a palette knife. If you're not sure what
       colors to use, look at your leaf and take inspiration from it or think about
       colors that might pop against it. Consider adding paint onto the leaf then
       smearing it with your palette knife OR applying paint onto your palette knife
2.    Mix them together, blend them, add texture! Move your leaf around to get 
       different angles and reach different areas. 
3.    For this leaf, I encourage you to cover the entire thing, get messy, explore,
       and have fun with it!
4.    Add splatters if you'd like.
5.    I know this one can feel a bit messy but take some time to look at it from
       afar and up close--notice where the paint blends together and find the
       beauty within the paints! 
Painting abstract leaves
1.    For a cleaner look, use fresh eucalyptus leaves and try a color palette using
       3 complimentary colors
2.    Apply all 3 colors onto your palette knife like 2 dots or stripes.
3.    Press your palette knife down onto the leaf then drag slightly before slightly
       lifting the knife and pressing down again. Repeat as many times as you'd
       like to create a ripple texture. 
4.    Experiment with smearing the paint on your knife onto other leaves until you
       run out of paint or clean the knife and start fresh on your next leaf.
Abstract painting on eucalyptus leaves


  • Don't be afraid to use a generous amount of paint!
  • Try using different amounts of pressure when using the knives--press down hard and press down lightly.
  • Experiment with the different parts of the palette knife: the tip, the edge (it's a great way to make straight lines!), the bottom.
  • Let it dry completely before handling to avoid smears!
  • Have fun with it!
Happy painting and happy fall! :)
This blog post is part of a 3 part series on different ways to paint fall leaves. You can find the other tutorials here: sunflowers and spiderwebs.
Painted leaves
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.