The August blog vacation is over, September is here, and with it comes the opening day for Branching Out, Trees as Art. So I’ve been compiling cool tree-related links and activities for you for months now, and have a set of companion activities to my earlier post, Ideabox: Twigs.
Leaves are awesome, when you stop to think about them, and this is, quite frankly, the best time of year to think about them if you are lucky enough to live in New England. Foliage season is as exciting as flowering tree season if you’re me.
“Fall Foliage” by Dori, Creative Commons license. Click image for source.
We have a number of cool leaf-based artworks going into Branching Out, including work by Joan Backes, Steve Hollinger, and Adrianne Evans, among others, and here are some fun interdisciplinary ways of exploring leaves this fall (and beyond!).
Science: The Chemistry of Leaves
Leaf pigment chromatography is a staple in science classrooms this time of year, but in case you’ve never tried it, here’s a great breakdown of the experimental process from Scientific American, and a fun explanation of the phenomenon from Chemical of the Week.
Adrianne Evans does some very cool works with leaf pigments as well, using the leaves like photographic paper and allowing the sunlight to essentially make a print.
Colored Leaves by Adrianne Evans, on view in Branching Out starting Sept. 27
Try this yourself with cyanotypes, always fun on a sunny fall day! Sun print or other sun-sensitive paper is available from a variety of sources including Dick Blick, Teacher Source, Steve Spangler and others.
Cyanotype by Anna Atkins, 1850, from SFMOMA via Creative Commons. Click for source.
There are always new trends in health recommendations, but I can’t argue with the idea that walking in the forest can help with stress levels. I traded a forest preserve for a coastline when I switched jobs from Acton to Salem, but this is still a good suggestion for oneself, one’s class, or one’s family: Go “Forest Bathing!”
Need more information on how hanging out with trees improves your health? Check out “Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning.”
Literature & Drama
Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man and Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf are early childhood classics when it comes to leaves, but what about combining your ‘forest bathing’ with a reflective writing activity, as in the haiku below?
Haiku by Artsyville, click for source
And how about a few classic poems to go with the (many) cool children’s books that are out there about trees?
Fall, leaves, fall
Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.
On First Seeing a U.S. Forest Service Aerial Photo of Where I Live
All those poems I wrote
About living in the sky
Were wrong. I live on a leaf
Of a fern of frost growing
Up your bedroom window
In forty below.
I live on a needle of a branch
Of a cedar tree, hard-bitten,
Striving in six directions,
Rooted in rock, a cedar
Tree made of other trees,
Not cedar but fir,
Lodgepole, and blue spruce,
Bacteria to the fan-
Lip of a draw to draw
Water as soon as it slips
From the snowdrift’s grip
And flows downward from
Branch to root — a tree
Running in reverse.
Or I live on a thorn on a trellis —
Trained, restrained, maybe
Cut back, to hold up
Those flowers I’ve only heard of
To whatever there is and isn’t
Leaf box by Steve Hollinger
If you’re not up to acid-washing your leaves like Steve Hollinger (though you can get small leaves pre-treated through Dick Blick), how about some pressing, painting, punching and patterning?
Leaf Type by Mei Linn Chan. Click for source.
Painting patterns on leaves with watersoluble crayons. Click for source.
Leaf printing with splatter technique. Click for source.
Leaf punching and patterning. Click for source.
Looking for more? Check out some previous Ideabox posts:
Ideabox: Altoid Tins