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No Brush Required! Paint a Masterpiece with Mother Nature

girl happily painting with a leafy tree branch

When you think of painting, you probably think about using a brush (or fingers perhaps). But nature can provide a new way to create a masterpiece. In this art project, twigs, bark, pine cones, or the floppy branch of a spruce tree become brushes; they create incredible textures on paper.

Take a walk, gather your supplies, and see what nature inspires! 

colorful paint splatters from natural brushes


  • Branches, twigs
  • Pinecones
  • Wheat stalks
  • Leaves
  • Flowers
  • Washable tempera paint in a variety of colors
  • White construction paper or heavy paper


This is a great art activity to set up outside, so that kids can paint as freely as they wish. 1) Squeeze out some tempera paint in a series of dishes. 2) Lay out your flowers and branches. 3) Show your child how to dip them in paint and dab or paint on the paper.

two girls intent on painting

Encourage them to paint in whatever way they want. Gentle dabs, pine cone rolls, or even strong whacks that splatter paint in a marvelous pattern! 

Conversation points:

  • What does the paint look like on your paper?
  • Tell me about your painting.
  • What kinds of textures does a leaf make?

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