Autumn in New England promises vibrant leaf peeping and all things pumpkin spice. Whether you are making a special trip with the family for apple picking and cider doughnuts or simply walking through your neighborhood, you are likely to find an especially vibrant tree or a freshly fallen leaf that begs to be picked up and admired.

If you haven’t already guessed it, I am the woman who stops to pick up leaves and then presses the prettiest ones between the pages of my thick collection of Jane Austen novels. Whether or not you have a penchant for collecting these beauties, it’s hard to deny that one exquisite leaf can spark wonder and inspiration. Possibly even enough to make you want to take up an art project?

As an artist, art teacher, and mom, I want to share a few favorite autumn tree art projects that you can create at home with relative ease, low cost, and no prior experience. What’s more, you can modify these projects to suit your toddlers as well as your teens — make it a full-family activity. Let’s create gorgeous autumn trees together!

Abstract autumn pointillism tree

Gather tempera paints, watercolor paper, cotton swabs, crayons, markers, or paint sticks (green and brown). Don’t fret about what you don’t have — try to make it work with what you do!

Draw a tree trunk and some branches using crayons, markers, or tempera paint sticks. To build out the branches, think of all the directions your arms can bend and reach outward.

Once the tree outline is complete, squeeze small dollops of red, orange, yellow, and green tempera paint on a disposable plate or old piece of cardboard (for easy cleanup). Start off with a little of each color so you don’t waste paint; you can always add more paint as needed.

Tape a few cotton swabs together, making sure the tops are evenly lined up. For younger kids, you can make the project easier by taping together five cotton swabs. For adults and older kids, a single cotton swab or three together works well.

Gently dab and tap the cotton swab with paint all around the branches of the tree. You want to create dots and dabs of paint so the individual colors show even as they mix together.

By adding wispy dabs all around, you can indicate the motion of the falling leaves. Don’t forget to add some to the ground as well!

Click to see a one minute time lapsed video of the process here! Enjoy!

Autumn scribble tree

If you don’t have paints at home, you can modify the project using any other drawing materials — colored pencils, crayons, markers. To create this oh-so-simple autumn art project, simply draw a tree trunk and scribble all your favorite autumn colors for leaves!

Autumn confetti tree

Crumble up super dry leaves in a tray or large bowl. Draw a tree trunk and branches, then glue on crumbled leaves like glitter and let it dry. This is a super fun sensory activity to do with artists of all ages!

Leaf faces

If you collect up some vibrant leaves, you can press them dry and create beautiful faces with your little artists. All you need is a sheet of paper and glue. Note: To press leaves, you simply place them between the pages of a heavy book. In a three or four days, you should have beautiful pressed leaves. 

For more art inspiration, you can follow along at @essemartstudio! Happy autumn!

Sophia Moon
Sophia Moon is an artist, mom, and multi passionate creative. 2018, she opened Essem Art Studio where she found a niche creating magical art programming for kids and families in her community. Her mission is to spark joy and cultivate creative confidence in artists of all ages. When she is not teaching or creating something, she likes to cozy up with a good book, tweak recipes with healthy subs, and walk around town with her husband and daughter. Sophia is the host of the Boston chapter of CreativeMornings and serves on the board for the Charlestown Mothers Association and Boys & Girls Club Charlestown.