Fall art exploration: Painting with chestnuts

When I was little, I walked with my dad across the University of Oregon campus just before school started. I held his hand as we meandered under the centuries-old trees and kicked the crackling fallen leaves. I often stooped to pick up acorns and chestnuts.

I’d find them in my pocket all fall and winter long—little treasures squirreled away.

Even now I can’t resist picking them up. I run my thumb over the smooth shell like a worry stone and remember those crisp autumn walks with my dad.

The other day, on one of those cold but bright fall mornings, my girls and I took a walk. It was just chilly enough for me to be grateful for the furnace baby strapped to my chest, and Peeper stopped every few steps to investigate something or other while Finn waited impatiently.

We approached a chestnut tree and the mess of nuts, shells and leaves surrounding it. Squirrels scolded us overhead while Peeper picked up a handful of chestnuts and talked about how pokey the burst-open shells were.

We brought a bunch home and started a “special project,” as she has taken to calling her art endeavors. We incorporated the treasures into our fall art crafting—take a look and you and your little may love painting with chestnuts, too!

Process art with autumn treasures and painting with chestnuts: a fun way to celebrate fall! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Fall art: Painting with chestnuts


  • Chestnuts, shells and leaves
  • Paint
  • Paper
  • Tape
  • A jelly roll pan with an edge


1. Gather chestnuts, shells and leaves. (You can use acorns, caps and leaves instead if you have an oak tree nearby, or use a collection of random nature findings like we did here.)

2. Squeeze out paints into a palette. We used red, orange and yellow—beautiful fall colors that won’t muddy if they mix.

3. Tape a piece of paper into a jelly roll pan.

4. Dip the shells and leaves into the paint and use them to print on the paper.

5. Dip the chestnuts into the paint and place them on the paper. Shake, turn and tip the pan back and forth to make the chestnuts roll around—they’ll skitter this way and that, leaving a beautiful trail of paint behind them!

If you do other fall art projects, painting with chestnuts or leaves or heck, even pumpkin rinds—I’d love to see them! Post a picture on Instagram and tag me!

6 thoughts on “Fall art exploration: Painting with chestnuts

  • October 17, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Amazing how such “little” moments create long and lasting memories. Very sweet that you’re now able to pass along and make new special memories with your little ones.

    • October 18, 2016 at 10:50 am

      So true! Most of life is made up of “little” moments, so we’d better value those just as much as the big ones! Thanks for stopping by, Tami!

  • October 21, 2016 at 8:52 am

    You are the coolest! I know I always say this, but it bears repeating: you are giving your kiddos (and yourself) the best memories. That is what it is all about.

    • October 24, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Aw, thanks Renee. You are so sweet! We sure do have a lot of fun. 🙂


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