"Colors seen by candlelight will not look the same by day."
    —Elizabeth Barrett Browning


After I learned about Alma Thomas's dancing leaves, I noticed how much the trees outside the museum move in the wind. They have a lot of natural rhythm. All they need is the music. So let's give them a band of leaf musicians!

Alma Thomas
Red Azaleas Singing and Dancing Rock and Roll Music
1. Get out these supplies:

  • drawing paper (a large sheet of newsprint, manila, or any other fairly absorbent paper)
  • scrap paper
  • paintbrush
  • watercolors
  • jar of water
  • paper towels
  • markers
2. Look for leaves.
  • Collect them from trees, bushes, flowers…even weeds!
  • If they've fallen on the ground, be sure they're not too crumbly. If they're still on the plants, be sure to ask before you pick!
  • Find a variety of shapes and sizes.
3. Print your leaf.
  • Put your leaf on the scrap paper, with the rough side of the leaf facing up.
  • Use your paintbrush to spread watercolors all over this side of the leaf. Don't use too much water if you want your colors to be bright!
  • Put the leaf on your large sheet of paper, paint side down.
  • Cover the leaf with a paper towel. Press down firmly, but be sure not to move the leaf. You don't want a blurry picture!
  • Remove the paper towel and the leaf, and admire your leaf print!
4. Make the scene.
  • Choose new leaves to print. Look for shapes that will add to your picture—a round leaf print can be someone's face, long ones can be legs.
  • You can use a leaf more than once, and you can paint it with more than one color. But be sure to clean your brush before you change color.
5. Let your leaves sing and dance.
  • Use your markers to add details.
  • Will your biggest leaf be playing the guitar? Will your small one be the lead singer? And what is that funny dance they're all doing? Do you think I can learn it, too?