The Swag’s Special Event Leader Gay Bryant Offers Tips on How to Create Beautiful Art from Fall Leaves

 Waynesville, NC (September 2020) — Creating art from fall foliage has been a popular program at The Swag for the past five years.  Watercolor and relief printing workshops, led by Tennessee Artist and Hiker Gay Bryant*, teach guests how to capture the beauty of the season by recycling fall leaves.

“At The Swag we have many amazing leaves to choose from on our hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” says Gay, who teaches this class on select weeks of the year.  “Since many travelers will be leaf peeping closer to home in 2020, we wanted to share tips on how to capture one of nature’s wonders on paper.”

Follow these steps to create beautiful art from fall leaves:

Step 1 – Take a hike into the woods, a nearby park or your own backyard and collect fresh or dry leaves.  Red Maples, Sugar maples, Striped Maples, Chestnuts and Oak leaves are great selections, advises Gay.  Leaves hold up best if collected in late summer and fall.

Step 2 – Press leaves in a book for about two hours, taking care not to damage pages by placing leaves between two paper towels.

Step 3– Choose a watercolor paint color that will be used as your leaf-print.  Darker colors in a medium intensity work best, like purple, maroon, dark blues, and grays.

Step 4 – Paint the backside of the leaf with this color, making sure the entire backside and edges are covered. Do not paint stem of leaf. You can add the stem to the painting as the last step by drawing a line that represents your stem.

Step 5 – Place the painted side of the leaf down on watercolor paper.  Cover the leaf with a paper towel and gently pat on the paper towel with the leaf under it to make the painted leaf surface print to the paper.  Be sure the leaf doesn’t slip around.  Do not rub.

Step 6 – Dry the printed leaf image using a blow dryer set on low.  This should take less than 20 seconds. (You can also let it air dry for three to four minutes).

Step 7 – You now have a leaf outline that you can begin to paint.  Have fun with the watercolor paint – drop in some color on the leaf print and paint over it with clear water in your brush. Try dropping in another color to see what it will do.  Results are unpredictable – and fun and beautiful!

Step 8 – When done, lightly draw in and paint in your stem then blow your painting dry.

Step 9 –  OPTIONAL: Drop in a shadow.  In pencil, lightly draw in a portion of the leaf’s edge to create a shadow.  Paint in the shadow area in very watered-down light grays and remove the pencil line when dry.

Step 10 – Voila!  You now have a completed watercolor painting of a leaf that can be matted and framed.

About The Swag
The Swag offers 14 luxurious accommodations, most with wood burning stone fireplaces, allowing guests a peaceful environment where they can rest, relax and rejuvenate. Located on a secluded mountaintop just outside Waynesville, North Carolina, the hideaway shares a one-mile border with Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is an ideal destination for romantic getaways, weddings, corporate retreats and much more. The 2.5-mile private drive leading to the inn climbs more than 1,000 feet.


Rates start at $520 per night per room, with a two-night minimum.    All prices include a hearty breakfast, picnic lunch, evening social hour on the front porch with hors d’oeuvres, four-course dinner, welcome gift and hikes and programs led by Special Event Leaders.  Suite and Cabin accommodations are also available.  Single rate is less $50 per night.   For reservations or more information, visit or call 800-789-7672.

*Gay will be back at The Swag teaching her watercolor and relief printing workshops in the 2021 season.



MEDIA CONTACT:  Rebecca Werner, Tel:  917-370-5005 Email:



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