Let’s Paint an Autumn Maple Leaf!

I can tell by search information that a lot of people are trying to learn how to paint autumn trees and such right now. I don’t blame them! What a wonderful idea to take advantage of the season. To tell you the truth, I think autumn has more to offer than any other season. The colors are exploding and there is so much to choose from.

In my quest to make it simple for the beginning watercolor artist, I want to show a very easy step-by-step demonstration on how to paint an autumn leaf. You can do this! Try it out…

Step 1: I am using cold press watercolor paper. I sketched my leaf larger than life size with a #2 pencil. I taped the actual leaf down next to my sketch because the leaf was curly and I couldn’t see the entire top surface.

Step 2: Wet the entire leaf. Wait until your paper is no longer shiny and paint the veins winsor yellow. Remember, with watercolors you paint the lightest color first, then you layer with darker colors.

Step 3: While your paper is still wet, take some permanent rose and paint the leaf around the veins. Why am I using permanent rose (a pink color) for a red maple leaf? I use the pink under the red to give the red color brightness and life. If I do not use the pink, the red will look dull and lifeless.

Step 4: While the perm. rose is still wet, paint the outer edge of your leaf alizarin crimson. The paint will mix and move around…we like that. Take a sharp stick and scrape out the veins.

Step 5: Wait until everything is dry then take winsor yellow and a rigger brush and paint the veins yellow again. Next make a watercolor mixture of alizarin crimson and burnt sienna and paint inside the leaf in between the veins and around the edges.  Almost done!

Step 6: With a mixture of alizarin crimson, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue, paint the outer most edge of the leaf and along some of the veins with a small rigger brush.

Step 7 Final: Today I decided to outline with my black micron pen. I didn’t do every single vein, just some of them. Next, take cobalt blue and paint in the shadow to make it look like your leaf is not floating in the air, but resting on a surface. The stem is perm rose and green gold at the very tip.
We are done!

I hope one way you can celebrate autumn is by painting this easy maple leaf. Maybe you would like to find your own autumn leaf and try to paint it by using the lightest-to-darkest watercolor layering method as shown in this demonstration? Take the blessings God gave you to document what’s going on around you. It is so much fun!


  1. Great and Bing brought me right where I needed to go. I’m taking a watercolor class and couldn’t remember the
    technique that (you also used) the teacher taught. Thanks so much for offering it here!!!

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