Leaf Cutout Painting Project

Leaf Cutout Painting Project

I love coming up with new ways to create art for our home! This leaf cutout painting project is perfect Fall and Thanksgiving decor, and is quick and easy for even the tiniest fingers!

Using either brushes or fingers (as my daughter says, “It’s not art if you’re not making a mess!”), some thick watercolor paper, and a cut out leaf or hand shape – with a leaf stem added – you can create this colorful and unique leaf cutout painting in under an hour!


  • Thick paper or cardstock (we used watercolor paper)
  • Acrylic or paint of your choosing (watercolors don’t tend to get dark enough for this project, but could also work)
  • Round tip paintbrushes
  • Cut-out design of a leaf or traced hand

You might also like this DIY fall mixed media wall art!

Leaf Cutout Painting Project

Okay, so you’re going to want to start by picking your colors. We chose red, orange, yellow, green, red-purple, and brown.

Use a brush or your fingers to make streaky lines on the paper. I recommend starting with the lightest color first and working your way to the darkest. Use more yellow and less brown, basically.

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Fill your paper. We decided to leave a little white around the outside, but you can certainly go right to the edges.

While you’re waiting for that to dry, cut out your shape.

Leaf Cutout Painting Project Supplies

Once the paint’s dry, place your shape on the paper until you find a good spot. You may want to use multiple shapes, as my daughter did, where she placed hers on the lower-left corner and then did another copy on the upper right. You won’t get too many uses out of one piece if you use copy paper, but a thicker paper could give you repeated uses.

Dip your finger in white paint, and starting on the paper template, sweep the paint outward and off the edge, onto the background. You’ll have to hold the template in place to make sure there are no smudges. When you’re finished, you’ll have covered every part of the edge.

Fun and easy kid's fall art project step by step

Once you’re finished, you’ll slowly peel the template paper up to reveal your edges! Here’s an important step, though… Make sure to take a brush and go along the edge to really make the white as opaque as possible. You only have to do this along that edging, though.

On the rest of your leaf painting page, you’ll want to water down your white paint to make a ‘wash’. Fill in the paper so that you can see the background colors come through, but they’re very muted. The brightest color should be where your leaf template was. Keep adding paint until you’re pleased with your results!

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Not shown: You can also use a paint pen or fine liner brush to draw the veins in your leaf with white paint. We didn’t get too detailed because I love the simplicity of the art without the fine lines.

How to paint autumn silhouettes

And the big reveal! Here’s how our leaf cutout painting project turned out! I’m loving these, and have the perfect frames, ready for hanging over our dinner table.

Leaf Cutout Painting Project

This technique works with any silhouette shape, and you can really have fun with your backgrounds and blackout layer colors. Make more ornate shapes for older kids, too. Think full tree shapes, or maybe a cornucopia! You may also be interested in this Fall Kitchen Decor Craft!

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