Make Natural Paint Brushes with Materials from Nature

Art in the wild!
five paint brushes made from natural sticks and leaf materials
Photos courtesy of Nature Kids BC

A trip to any art supply store will confirm that paint brushes come in limitless different shapes and sizes. Did you know that instead of buying one, you can craft your own unique paint brushes using materials found in nature? Here's how!

bucket of evergreen branches

For art in the wild you'll need:

  • Natural fibres such as pine needles, small fir branches, or dried grasses for the bristles

  • Several small sticks for the brush handles

  • Elastics, twine, or thin wire to attach the brush tips

  • Scissors or pruning shears

  • Heavy-weight paper and washable, non-toxic, water-based paint (such as tempera) to create your masterpiece-maker!

To make your masterpiece:

  1. From your yard (or in another location where you have permission), gather natural materials for the paint brush bristles, and sticks for the brush handles.

  2. Choose some of the bristle material and gather it together in a bundle.

  3. Attach the bristles to the stick using an elastic band, string, or wire. Optional: trim the bristles to create the brush head shape you want; round, flat, fan, and angled are a few options.

  4. Get painting en plein air (outside in nature) using your new brushes!

To think about and wonder:

How do the shapes of your paint brushes compare to the ones in the store? Are any similar? Which of the brushes you made was your favourite to paint with?