Tropical Leaves


Today’s project is the final one before Module Two’s larger collage project: a still life collage.

We’ll be creating leaves to be used in that project. I am also showing how I use a rotary cutter to cut out leaves. Tropical leaves as a topic have been trending for some time now and they are still very popular for surface design, fashion and interior design.

You will be using deli paper, High Flow paints and matte medium. A tropical houseplant will be good to use as a sample to work from, but it is not essential.

Here's a link to a Pinterest Board for some inspiration. Look at the colours, markings and bold shapes on the leaves. Tropical plants are structured and sculptural.

By now you should have a good grasp of how thick the paint and medium must be in order to do build up the layers. Experiment with colours and shapes to create ranges of leaf shapes. The sheets you have made so far in Module Two using the different processes will be important to create unique and interesting combinations for the still life collage project.


Please watch the videos for guidance and as always, feel free to experiment and work in your own style. The aim is to create individual leaves by applying paper cutouts on sheets of deli and build up the colours by blocking out sections.

Take two deli sheets, fold double, and then double again, now create the inside veins of the leaf by cutting it out. You will have positive and negative shapes to work with. You can also use the stencils on top of sheets that are already painted.

Use contrasting colours for the best effect, mixing three or more colours will create a richer range of colours.

When using the stencil a few times it might get a bit damp and curl over, this create a more organic stencil shape, but it might be an idea to just 'glue it' together with the sheet beneath it to create a leaf collage, just use matte medium for the gluing, which you are using anyway.(it is now just tinted with colour).

Play around with colour and shapes, you will need about eight or nine leaves. You will end up with sheets of colour with the middle of the leaf printed in variations. Use colour transparently, always mixing with matte medium, keeping the layers thin.

Once dried you can cut out the leaf shapes and then make adjustments by painting more colours on them as you see fit.

Create a plant from the leaves and left over bits of paper. Don't stick it down yet, just have a go at the composition. You will use this in the weekend's project.

For the rotary cutting process you will need a cutting matt or suitable surface and a rotary cutter, I am using 18mm and 25mm cutters. A 45mm will work as well, but might be a bit tricky for cutting out smaller elements.

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

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