Creative Evolution of a Leaf

Marie Stephens

Make like a tree and leaf

As a horticulturist, I find great joy in growing plants. As an artist, I am always getting new ideas after getting to spend time relaxing in my garden.  I have had an idea swirling around in my head for about a year now,

The Experiment

Find out how to preserve a leaf while maintaining it's delicate vein patterns, that doesn't involve the smelly fumes of spray paint, yet still allows me to paint on it with oil paints if I want to.


Pouring diluted gesso over fresh  leaves.

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Fully coated moonflower leaf.


Air-drying outside!

It totally worked

and I couldn't be happier!

The leaf I am holding is from a weeping Redbud tree in our garden. I love the heart shape, and how the gesso still allows the delicate vein pattern and some of the dried leaf color to show through.

I had intended to paint the leaf with oil paints, but I really love the chalky white look here.  

The Leaf Samples

I was really happy with how these turned out, but still not sure what to actually do with them.

Hop Leaf

Pouring 50/50 

gesso to water mix.

large hop leaf

Drip drying from my tripod, attached with masking tape.

various species

Maple, Oak, Fothergilla, wild grape, hops,  Redbud, Birch...   I had fun.

Then, the idea hit me!

Combine leaf with abstract paint palette.


I have been creating abstract paintings on palette paper for months.


I have been experimenting with these leaves since fall of 2020.


Almost a year later the idea to combine these 2 ideas finally came to mind!

The Result...prints on everything!


Bella + Canvas Charity Pink

Bella + Canvas Deep Teal

Bella + Canvas Kelly Green



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