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Inspired by Nature: Lower Elementary Leaf Art

Most school years at WMS, art class begins outside. Our 25-acre campus offers many opportunities for students to explore nature and create patterns and sculptures from sticks, stones, pine cones and leaves. Art teacher Laurie Muhlbauer often has students begin with observational drawing, which she describes as drawing "anything you see outside that's not going to get up and walk away." 

This year, as summer gave way to fall, the 6-9 students began to take a closer look at leaves. They collected fallen leaves and studied their contours, veins and textures, then selected one to sketch. Laurie underscores the critical role of observation skills in art. 

"If you want to know how to draw or paint it, you have to know what it looks like," she said.   

Guided by their observations, one group of Lower Elementary students created leaf mazes, while the other used their leaf drawings for block printing.

The students who worked on the leaf mazes enlarged their sketches, focusing on their leaves' contours and main veins. From there, each student created an intricate maze within his or her leaf drawing. After reviewing steps to create a maze, students first sketched their mazes in pencil, then traced over them in pen when they were satisfied with their mazes' solutions. 

Using sketches from their sketchbooks, the block printing group transferred images of their leaves onto rubber blocks. Using a gouging tool, they carved imprints of their leaves into rubber blocks, applied block-printing ink and stamped the resulting impressions on paper. As they honed their stamping techniques, some students began layering their prints to experiment with texture and color.

For a closer look at some of the leaf work the 6-9 students have been working on, stop by the art room display cases, where the leaf mazes are currently posted.