Wild and Wacky Nature Printing

May 19th, 2009


There are so many ways to play with nature elements in your art. If you're looking for some inspiration, here are some fabulous tutorials to get you started:

- Hammered flower and leaf prints: Super clever way to get the color of flowers and leaves into your art while simultaneously pounding out your frustrations. (I should have done this after the Celtics game on Sunday. Blarg!)

- Gyotaku: We all know about leaf rubbings, but what about fish rubbings? This tutorial will walk you through the finer points of Gyotaku. My cats would go out of their minds if I ever did this at home, so I won't be doing this anytime soon!

- Leaf Rubbings: For a different look with botanical rubbings, try doing them on rice paper. I love the way they look in this Martha Stewart calendar and I bet they'd look gorgeous incorportated into a collage.


- Gelatin Printing: I've done some gelatin printing before and it's a blast! It's also a great tool to use with natural elements to make gorgeous monoprints. Here's a tutorial on setting up your own gelatin printing station: This one is from Art Esprit and here are written instructions along with a video from Linda Germain (check out all her gelatin printing videos on youtube!)

I did all the images in this post with gelatin printing. They're fun to make and they're also great to use as collage materials.


Hopefully this will fill your head with ideas and send you off to buy gelatin. Or maybe it will just inspire you to hammer the heck out of some plants. Or perhaps you'll paint a fish. Hehe. This post could get you into trouble! No matter what, keep having fun with it!

5 Responses

These are really great ideas, Leah. I like the idea of adding flickr, too. I’ll work on that this week. In the meantime, I shot some pix of this “Robin Hood” forest near me that is so beautiful this week. I’ll post a sunset picture I painted later today, too.

This is so much fun. Having a team of support for the creative heart. Thank you!

Oooo thanks for the great links leah! I really like the one about pounding the dye of of the plants… i’ve got some ginko leaves i’d love to try that with.

I love the free-flowing nature of the lines and color in these pieces. Is it strange, I saw the first image and immediately thought of a baby growing inside a woman :)

Leah, I just tried gelatin plate printing for the first time and KNOW I am going to explore this technique in depth. The prints do make wonderful collage elements. I’m using them in my paper quilts.

A few months ago, I created a post on Nature Printing with how-to instructions & many examples:

The method uses gyotaku techniques, but not necessarily using fish —one can use leaves or flowers or other plant materials. Gyotaku was first used in sports fishing to prove the size of the fish that were caught by printing the actual fish, but today it is used more with botanical subjects.

It can be a simple, easy process or it can become more complex. I used to teach art to 7th & 8th graders. When we did a relief printing unit (usually lino pints) students who completed the assigned project could do nature printing for extra-credit without a lot of guidance (while I helped students struggling with the regular assignment) because they already had learned basic relief printing techniques.

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