DIY: Fall Leaves on Canvas

By Kate Riley September 18, 2009

Five years ago, Mr. CG and I toured New England in mid October.  We started in New York City, drove through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod, and ended our trip in Boston.

Boston.  October 2004.  Ring a bell ?  Imagine trying to get a room in Boston in October of 2004 when the Red Sox faced the Cardinals in the World Series.  Ooops, didn’t see that one coming in my advance travel plans.  For hours, we dialed every hotel in town.  We lost count of how many operators said to us, “You do realize the Red Sox are playing in the World Series at Fenway tonight”.

Sinking further into stupidville with every call, again and again I replied:  “Yes, we are aware. **Sigh**  Do you have any rooms available?”  But like Mary and Joseph, we were turned away.  There was simply no room at the inn(s).  At one point, I even begged, “I have an eight month old baby.  Take pity on me.”  After several hours, and a crazy stroke of luck, we finally found the very last hotel room in town at the Hyatt.  Exhausted, we watched the fourth and final Fenway game from the lobby bar.  Reinvigorated by the beers, we became Red Sox fans.  Well, just for the night.  I’m a little off topic.  Where was I ?

Oh yes.  Throughout our New England tour, we were privileged to witness the fall foliage show.  Amazing aspens.  Magical maples.  I loved it all.  And let me just digress again.  You New Englanders seriously know how to prepare some chowda and lobstah.  I must have gained five pounds on that trip, between the New York bagels and the chowda.

While we were touring Newport (I heart Newport), we ran right into John Ratzenberger.  Wait, Kate.  Stay on topic !  Okay, while in Newport, I picked up one of my favorite Christmas ornaments:  a maple leaf covered with gold.  It was the source of inspiration for this next fall themed art project.

fall leaves on canvas

Some of you may recall that I have a bit of an eyesore in my foyer, known as the alarm control.  Over the summer, I designed what you could call a ‘James Bond’ approach to disguising this eyesore – hiding it behind a homemade painting.  Summer’s version was turquoise blue with cherry tree branches.

So for fall, I decided to make two new seasonal canvases, again inspired by nature, but this time I wanted to add a textural element.  I went outside to my yard, and picked three kinds of leaves from a bush, a tree, and a hedge.  I really really like it when supplies are free.

snowball bush

tree 1


Overnight, I pressed the leaves mostly flat between wax paper and heavy books.

press leaves

Then I gathered these supplies from my craft cabinet:  two discount canvases from a craft store, leftover acrylic paints, some metallic Mod Podge and metallic glaze.

art supplies

First, I mixed up some shades of green, one bluish green, one lemongrass, and painted them on the canvases.  Don’t ask me how I achieve these colors.  I just keep blending and mixing and adding white till it looks right.  There is simply no method to my madness.

paint canvases

When dry, I applied my flattened leaves to my canvas with the silvery metallic Mod Podge.

modge podge leaf

modge podge to canvas

When all the leaves were attached, I used some bronze glaze to add shimmer, and highlight the already beautiful colors in these leaves.

bronze glaze

I experimented with some swoops and accents to mimic a blustery day.

add accents

add more accents

Then I mixed some burnt umber craft paint with the bronze metallic and played around in an abstract way.

blend glaze and paint

abstract swirl

I let them dry and then hung them on the wall.

on the wall

Up close, some of them are pretty darn gorgeous.

big leaf wrapped around canvas

favorite leaf

Me likey texture.


My girlfriend dropped by, and asked the question that under any other circumstances a woman never wants to hear, nor answer.

“Are those real?”

gorgeous color

“They’re real.  And they’re spectacular.”

(Bonus points if you get the reference.)

I dub thee Blustery I and Blustery II.

blustery two

blustery one

Fancy in form, and functional too.  They make a great disguise for the alarm control.

hide alarm

And a seasonal backdrop for this week’s yard clippings.

foyer glow

fall arrangement

Fall leaves on canvas.

leaves wall art

Pretty.  Simple.  And pretty close to free.



  1. Ooooooooh! Those are just plain ol’ awesome! I need to find metallic modge podge. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.

  2. Every time you post a new project, I think to myself “man, I never would have thought of that” and “even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to pull it off”.

    I bow down to your crafting genius.

  3. Oops—was laughing so hard at the quote that I forgot to comment on your fabulous artwork! I love the way you wrapped a few of the leaves around the canvas rather than leaving them flat. :) Gorgeous!

  4. Love the canvases!!! The blog especially close to my heart as my son in law to be (then) played
    for the Cardinals in that game!

  5. Oh, Darling! You are the most creative one! Your little cover ups turned out so pretty! You could sell these! Love your leaves and how they look as if they’re swirling around.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  6. Oh, Terri Hatcher in her pre-Desperate Housewives phase!

    Clearly you have mad crafting skills – these canvases are beautiful and I’m sure would cost good $$ at a home decor store. Hooray for using more skills and less dough!

  7. Maybe you should call them “Bustery” instead of “Blustery” with that reference! Only kidding, these are fantastic. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only person who throws around a good Seinfeld reference in their everyday life. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

  8. Wow this is amazing. I can’t believe you did it with real leaves and they look so good.

    Seinfeld….one of my favorite episodes.

    Can I just say that you are a genious!

  9. These are gorgeous. You sure do have a beautiful eye for color.

    Did you try any New England popovers? They’re a bit like a UK Yorkshire Pudding…. only with maple syrup ;)

  10. Beautiful! And hopefully unlike . . .err. . .other things that might or might not be real, these look like leather. Don’t you think? Absolutely gorgeous!

  11. Beautiful project! What a fabulous idea to use metallic paint and glaze to turn your fall leaves into art. So chic and perfect for fall.

  12. Fabulous idea. I wonder if it will work on faux leaves. I live in a brand new community, immature trees oh and I live in Cali wich means no fall :(

  13. I was just in Newport last week and I loved it! I got my favorite Christmas ornament from the Thames Street glassblower- a glass round ornament in pink and purple.

    I LOVE fall leaves but I live in Florida, so no leaves in the backyard for me to use. I could probably get some of the artificial ones and paint them with the metallic color to conceal their fakeness. hm….

  14. Well, this is simply beyond my skill level. I can do many things, but don’t put paint anywhere near me. Anything I touch will be some shade of ugly brown and paint will be everywhere. I am impressed!


  15. October 27th, 2004 was one of the BEST NIGHTS EVER, ah I love the Red Sox! I’m sorry you were stuck in the city with such a hard time finding a room though, that does not sound like fun.

    I love your project though, very pretty!

  16. She’s Crafty – that’s all I can say. I absolutely adore leaves and we were married in October so I could have a fall/leafy theme. Needless to say, I plan on attempting to create some leafy art thanks to you!

  17. What a stunning idea! I love it! And I’m already thinking of other ways to use it. Pressed flowers in the spring! I have some Queen Anne’s lace that I dried about 3 years ago (still in the books that I used for pressing – LOL!) that would be perfect! Thanks for all of your great ideas!

  18. WOW! This is gorgeous. I want to do this sooo bad but it’s going to have to go behind your headboard project. =) I’ll be linking!

  19. Yes, SIDRA, they are spectacular! I have a theory that in any conversation, there are 2 shows that you can almost always quote as relevant, “Seinfeld” and “The Brady Bunch”. Kind of like 9 degrees to Kevin Bacon. You rock, girl.

    By the way, have you ever visited Navarro vineyards in Philo? We stopped there on a meandering drive back from Mendocino and fell in love. It didn’t hurt that Mr. erphillips’ nickname in college was “Philo”.

    Love your website. I brag about you all the time and constantly forward your ideas to friends, what… try some of your cool ideas, myself..hecks no, I’m way too chicken. Actually, that’s not true, you and thrifydecorchick are inspiring me to use power tools.

    Keep posting!


  20. Wow! I love it! Autumn is my favorite season, I love the changing colors of the leaves. You captured the beauty and colors so well.

  21. My dad was in the Coast Guard, and I lived in Boston for quite a few years when I was very young. I absolutely loved it there….its one of my favorite cities ever. I LOVE me some Chowda!!! :D

    I love the project. all your ideas are completely inspirational, which I’m pretty sure is the point…but yeah. :)

  22. Oh my!! I have to have some of these in my house. Fall is my favorite time of the year, and these literally scream fall! I have a very artistic son, so I have already told him what he’s giving me for my birthday next month!

  23. Hi…You are very talented, I love all of your projects and you have given me great ideas for the Swedish style headboard I want to create………BUT

    Please come back and REALLY tour New England. It sounds like you missed most of our wonderful little corner of the Northeast …Massachusetts (The Berkshires are incredibly beautiful), Vermont, (the most beautiful place on earth), New Hampshire (sigh!) and the breathtaking coast of Maine.
    Newport and the Cape are a tiny fraction of what we have here and for foliage you have to go North.

    The Red Sox were on FIRE that year, but the best part was when they squashed the dreaded Yankees!!!

  24. I LOVE these! I definitely want to try this project! Autumn is my favorite season, and I can just picture a canvas like that in my living room. Great job!

  25. Kate,

    Those are freakin’ GAH-geous! (Likey me Boston accent?!)

    Ahhhh October 2004. By far, one of the best days of my life. Next to getting engaged and married and finding out we’re pregnant. But World Series Champs after over 80 years of pain? Priceless. You SHOULD be a Red Sox fan after experiencing that night IN Boston. There are lifelong fans who weren’t even in the city that night. Ahem…. =)

    Also, sidenote – I went to college in Newport at Salve Regina University. If you got to see the Cliffwalk or Bellevue Avenue, you probably saw some of the buildings! Newport is fab… Glad you liked!


  26. I just got back last night from a cruise to the New England area…gorgeous. I had never been to that part of the country. We actually toured Fenway Park. Amazing history in that city. Anyway I had to check at what one of my favorite bloggers has been up to. I totally love this Kate. I may have to rip it off and try it myself. Gorgeous. I am a bath girl myself. However I just have the standard ole tub. I am saving my pennies for a master bath overhaul…can’t wait. Meanwhile I will live vicariously through you.

  27. Bonus points for me, then, because I can practically see Teri Hatcher saying it in Jerry Seinfeld’s face. Oh, the 90s…
    I absolutely adore this canvas, and I hope to have a chance to make some soon. Not only do I love all things leaves-and-trees, but I just bought my first home and I want to show it off!

  28. ooh ooh ooh! I love this idea. Would look fabulous hanging on the front porch wall for autumn, too. Thanks for sharing your great ideas. Leaves are among my favorites things – but glazed, sparkly leaves…that’s over the top. Love it.

  29. I loved this when I saw it. Unfortunately, it’s not working for me. My leaves are not sticking to my canvass with the Modge Podge. Any tips???

  30. I love this way of exhibiting fall leaves while covering something ugly projecting out on the wall..I’ve always loves fall leaves but unfortunately maple trees do not exist in India where i live, so I make them with paper. I recently made a fall inspired glass candle holder, and now can’t wait to do this one…thanx!!!

  31. i LOVE this! And I have the same eye sore…that darn alarm control! Can’t wait to hide it with this beauty!!! New follower by the way :) Came across this old post of yours via The Whimsy Pumpkin and I’m so glad I did!

  32. I love this idea!! I am going to try it this weekend! And I didn’t notice in any of the other comments…..but didn’t Elaine say that??

  33. Amazing project! By the way, the quote was from Teri Hatcher who played Jerry’s girlfriend on Seinfeld. ;)

  34. I stumbled upon your site by accident, I will not every leave, girl you have a lot of ground here for me to cover. Anyway, as silly as this sounds, the third to last picture here you can see in the background your staircase, I think I see a paisley type print, is that wall paper, stencil or what? Now I have to go to the store to get another reem of paper so I can continue to print out stuff on your site.


  35. ! Ahaha “theyre real. And theyre fantastic” haha terry hatcher in Seinfeld. Beautiful artwork:)

  36. Hi,
    I see that you posted this project quite a while ago but I just found it. I wanted to try it but I can’t find a couple of the supplies. The Mod-Podge Shimmer doesn’t appear to be available anymore, and I can’t find the metallic glaze either. Can you suggest some alternatives which would provide a similar effect? Thanks in advance!

  37. Also- -I too had some trouble getting leaves to stick with mod podge- are there ways to get the leaves to stock successfully?

  38. Just found this today. So beautiful! How long did they hold up? I don’t expect to last forever but I’m hoping at least 4 months?

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