Art Lessons from Mother Nature

As many of you know, I gave up visual arts for writing over 12 years ago to write books; the most recent being The Home for the Friendless. However, I had a profound art lesson experience from nature this year. I had neglected to rake up the endless array of leaves in my back yard before the rains came. After many weeks of lying around on grass and ground, the result was shallow mounds of moist, moldy compost everywhere: the lawn, concrete, and wooden deck. When I finally took time to scrape it all up, fat little sow bugs scattered to reveal an art show of flawless leaf prints. Mother Nature was trying some of her innovative techniques. Images were layered, wrinkled, crinkled and flat in stunning shades of reddish-black to grayish-mauve. I showed my children when they came to visit and we all agreed; “This ”found art” must be photographed.” But we never got around to it before the lawn mowing man arrived to groom and clean up the back yard.

Clean Up is the ugly term here. Mowing Man left and the back yard was as tidy as I’ve ever seen it when it dawned on me that he had hosed and scrubbed away nature’s art project. You might think this a fish tale like the leaf prints that got away. It’s not a tall tale, but it does remind me that beneath each unsightly surface, some beauty doth remain. 

Here is another way to create prints made with leaves that will NOT get away.

1. Find a sturdy leaf from a tree and dip it into water with detergent added. Blot dry.

2. Paint the vein side with water colors or any paint that dries fast.

3. Place painted side onto clean paper.

4. Drop a Kleenex on the leaf and press, being careful not to budge the leaf one bit.

5. Remove Kleenex, then the leaf and hope for a good print. Problems occur when using too much water or when moving the leaf while printing. Just practice this part.

6. “Leaf” the print alone or add things to it such as arms, legs, hats, or high heels. 

7. Admire and show it to friends.


 Try this out; it’s fun. What caption would you suggest for this print?     

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