What you’ll need

Items you’ll find outdoors for each paintbrush:

  • 1 twig (approx. 15–20 cm long)
  • leaves, feathers, petals, berries, herbs, grass, etc.

From home:

  • String or rubber bands
  • Scissors
  • Water-based paint (e.g., gouache or finger paints)
  • Containers for paints (e.g., jam jar lids)
  • Paper

How to do it

1. Search outdoors for everything you need for the brush (twigs) and the bristles (leaves, petals, etc.). Remember! Use twigs already on the ground rather than breaking them off a tree.

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2. Use some string to attach the bristles to the twigs. Wrap the string around a few times so that the bristles are held firmly in place and tie them with a knot. It will be easier if someone helps you.

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3. Do the same with everything you found outdoors and set the finished paintbrushes down, so they are ready to use.

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4. Cover the table, spread the paper and pour the different paints into the trays.

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5. Dip one of the paintbrushes into the paint and start painting. You can mix in some water with the paints so that you can paint more easily.

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6. Try out different techniques: dab, stamp, wipe. Which brush paints which pattern?

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Topsy’s tip

  • You can also use your “nature brushes” to paint on asphalt using water-based paint. Or in the snow using food coloring.
  • Show your work to a friend and have them guess which picture was painted with which brush.

Learn with Topsy

You can find different materials at different times of the year. Can you tell from your paintbrushes which season they are from?

  • Here in Switzerland, the four seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter determine how everything grows in nature. They have a major impact on how animals and plants behave and what you can see outdoors. In every season of the year, you will find exciting natural materials for your brushes outdoors, so keep your eyes peeled!
  • Spring is the time when nature awakens from hibernation and the rising temperatures energize the animal and plant world. It’s when you can first begin to spot flowers like snowdrops and crocuses blooming in the garden and also when migratory birds return.
  • Summer is the warmest season of the year when you can look forward to beautiful meadows blossoming with flowers and busy butterflies and bees buzzing around everywhere and collecting nectar.
  • In the fall, animals and plants start adjusting to the colder temperatures. Some birds leave Switzerland, and other animals start storing supplies for the winter. Trees start losing their leaves and nuts and chestnuts are now ripe.
  • In winter we can see how frost and cold slow nature down. Many animals such as squirrels and hedgehogs become dormant, while others such as bats and hamsters actually hibernate. Trees also protect themselves from the cold. Their lack of leaves in winter minimizes the amount of fluid they lose, as they cannot absorb water through their roots when the ground is frozen. However, conifers are still green even in winter because their needles are very well protected against water loss. That’s where they get the name “evergreens” from!