Give Yourself The Gift Of Creative Playtime: A Quick, Easy, and Inexpensive Winter Themed Art Tutorial

I simply can NOT stop collecting leaves lately; they are SO beautiful this year, damnit - I have to take them all home with me! Which is why I've been wondering: if I took the time to press some of my favorite ones (instead of letting them collect in a pile on my desk, slowly curling up as they dry out, and then getting snacked upon by wayward cats), could I draw upon these leaves with some of my art supplies as if they were a pieces of paper?

A pressed maple leaf lying on a table surrounded by a pumpmarker, an owl leaf, and a shiny acorn.
I chose this leaf for its perfection--it had no tears, no
nibbling on its edges, and it was nice and wide.
Oh, and if anyone can tell me what made the
two holes in the acorn in the bottom left of this photo
please let me know in the comments of this post!
I'm SO curious about those!

Well folks, the answer to that curiosity of mine is a wholehearted yes!

Recently I played with a leaf from my backyard that I’d pressed for just a few days (and pretty sloppily at that - I placed the leaf under a sheet of printer paper on my desk, put a heavy book on top of it, and then totally forgot about it) by doodling on it with a couple of paint pens (my current favorite, the Molotow Liquid Chrome pumpmarker, #2 in my Top 10 Gift Ideas for your Wildly Creative Friends & Family, and a white One4All pumpmarker). I didn’t have time to draw anything fancy on this leaf, just some snowflake patterns, but I still think it turned out lovely and now I'm wondering what sort of art I could create on an even bigger leaf?!
A pressed maple leaf is being held by a hand. It is covered in shiny snowflake doodles.
I'm in love with all things shiny lately, but it is the 
white snowflake patterns that popped the best when 
I took a photo of my fancy leaf. In person the metallic
ink impresses, but it took me 12 attempts to get 
those doodles to show up on camera
 at all!

Of course y'all may not have recently pressed leaves lying around the house like I do, so for the purpose of this itty bitty art tutorial I thought I would see if I could draw on regular dried leaves just as easily as pressed ones (you know kind I'm talking about - the ones collecting in your yard making you feel guilty about not having raked them up yet...or maybe that's just me).
A naturally dried leaf is held by a hand in the fading winter sun. There are random colorful snowflake doodles on the leaf.
I didn't take much time at all with the doodles
I did on these two naturally dried leaves, so 
please do not use my art as representative
of what YOU can create when you draw
on such leaves!
Drawing on these types of dried leaves was a slightly more precarious situation: I couldn't put my hand all the way down for fear of crushing the brittle leaf, the drawing surface was curved slightly, and the texture of the leaf was much more slick from having dried naturally in the sun. Despite all of that, I could make recognizable shapes with both juicy paint pens (I used Posca pens on the two naturally dried leaves) and metallic permanent markers (I love my fancy Sharpies), and it was just as fun a creative challenge as drawing on the pressed leaf! 
Another naturally dried leaf is being held up to the light so that you can see the colorful hand drawn snowflake doodles on it
Something to keep in mind:
the smooth and shiny texture of the 
naturally dried leaf made for a much slower
drying time of the paint pen and marker.
 Draw carefully so as not to accidentally
get paint on your clothes or furniture!

Now I can hear what a few of you may be asking: "Oh that's lovely, Michelle! What do you do with with those leaves?" And here's my answer: nothing. There isn’t a “purpose” to art of this kind; it just is for a while, and then it’s gone. 
But while it lasts, this little bit of leaf art makes me smile every time I look at it, especially when it catches the early evening winter sun streaming across my desk.
A cluttered art desk shows the pressed and doodled leaf sticking out of a potted plant and glistening in the even sun.
Who knows how long I will be able to enjoy this little
proof of some creative playtime I granted myself.
My cats will discover it before too long, and once that
happens, well, it will head to the rubbish bin--there's
no way metallic ink is good for kitties to ingest, even 
if it is long dried!
It's also a reminder to me that the purpose of creative playtime isn't the product that I make during those stolen moments. The purpose of projects like these is for me to allow myself to indulge my curiosity and my wonderings because the benefits of granting myself the permission to play "for no reason" are enormous and impact not just my health and well being but the health and well being of all those who interact with me. When I grant myself creative playtime I am more patient, calmer, interested, and quite possibly more interesting (although you'd have to ask my partner Steve if that last bit was true). I also feel myself being more compassionate to others and myself after I have "indulged" in a spot of creative playtime, which in my book makes it less of an indulgence and more of a necessity.

So, y’all if you’ve got gorgeous leaves still falling from trees in your neck of the woods and some markers (Honestly, I think regular permanent markers would work really well on pressed leaves if they were good and juicy, but let me know what you discover in the comments below!), I humbly suggest giving this little leaf art project a try. I’m sure kids of all ages would love doing it, and it is certainly more fun (and good for you) than raking them all up!

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