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It has been absolutely beautiful outside lately, so we took a little nature walk yesterday to pick out some favorite blooms, do some serious observing and gather inspiration for some flower-themed nature art. When checking out one of MY personal faves (Iris!) we were totally blown away by the crazy cool patterns and beautiful color gradients on each petal.
Isn’t it stunning?!? It’s so hard to capture in a picture, but the way the bright yellow and deep purple meet to create a soft pink in places is amazing. Upon further investigation, we found all sorts of patterns and color-mixing happening in our garden and took a handful of examples inside to create something with.
Knowing how well watercolors work for mixing, I grabbed a paint set and brushes and we started experimenting. By the time we were done, we had made a cute little collection of floral-inspired mini collages!
There is so much more at work than cute crafting here though. In addition to the wonderful observational opportunities, this provides a nice introduction to patterns and art theory in nature. This was the perfect lead-in to other conversations about naturally occurring patterns in other earth sciences or biology (like leaves, trees, butterflies, constellations, rocks, etc.) and we can’t wait to tackle them in this new art style too!
To make your own mini modern paper flower collages you’ll need:
- Watercolor Paper or Heavy Cardstock
- Watercolors and Brushes
- Masking Tape
- A Glue Stick
- Plain Colored Paper for Collaging
- Our Memphis-Style Pattern Sheets Printable PDF
Note: You don’t have to do exactly what we did, but if you love an excuse to get out in nature, collecting examples of patterns and gradients in nature is a great outdoor activity for kids! You don’t even have to go far – we found all of our inspiration right in our own backyard.
Mini Modern Paper Flower Collage Instructions:
- Cut sheets of paper into 3, 4, or 5 smaller squares and rectangles
I thought it would be a fun twist to paint our gradients on patterned paper instead of plain white paper, so I printed out the black and white patterns from our Memphis Paper Sculptures post. For mini-sized (more eco-friendly!) collages like ours, cut your sheets up into smaller squares and rectangles – no need for perfection, we’ll be cutting these up again later!
- Prep by taping your paper squares down to a board or tabletop
Use masking tape to secure an assortment of your patterned paper “canvases” to a solid surface. This keeps the paper from curling up when drying and can save kid frustration, as it keeps papers from moving around and watercolors dripping onto other sheets.
- Add watercolor gradients to your paper squares
Start watercoloring! We kept our leaves and flower petals close by for color gradient inspiration. This is a great time to experiment with different watercolor techniques. You can lightly cover your paper with water, then add color and watch it bleed. You can try using different sizes and shapes of brushes. You can use one color and fade to white, or use two or more colors to see what colors they make when they mix.
- Let dry thoroughly
Once you’ve painted all your paper squares, let them dry thoroughly. The bubbles and warping in the paper will slowly flatten out (if you’ve taped the edges down) as they dry. If you want to speed up the process, grab a hairdryer and hit them with a little heat for a few minutes!
- Remove the masking tape
Your gradients are done! Take all the tape off and set back for a good look at these beauties! For younger kids, you can use your gradient squares for a color-matching activity. Even older kids will have fun observing how the colors mixed together and how close they got to matching the colors in their natural inspiration.
- Cut a square from cardstock or scrap paper to use as your collage background
Grab another sheet of paper you can use to build your collages on. I cut some colored cardstock into 5″ x 5″ squares, but you can use any type, size, or color you like best!
- Cut simple leaf and petal shapes from your watercolor gradients and glue.
Cut some simple leaf and flower petal shapes out of your gradient squares. You can use your foliage, favorite flowers, or pictures as inspiration! Use a glue stick to glue your layers of leaves and flowers down.
Voila! Beautifully modern and wonderfully unique mini flower collages! These can be used as special handmade cards for loved ones, combined to make one large art piece, or strung together to create a super cute summery garland! And wouldn’t these make the perfect kid-made Mother’s Day cards or 2-D paper bouquets?
Have a kid who would have fun with these concepts but isn’t into flowers? Use pre-printed patterned paper to make cool graphic animals or landscapes too!
PBS Kids has a whole collection of activities and media to help kids investigate patterns in nature.