After the grand display of autumn’s boldest colors, the leaves come down. One by one they fall, by day and night, in windswept flurries and slow-motion descents. I collect a sample of oak, maple, beech, hickory; trying to preserve the quickly fading splendor. But in the turning of the season, all is not lost. The Earth is grounded in beauty, change, quiet, and renewal…and so are we.

Tips and Techniques– I always think that painting leaves will be easier than it is. There must be a way to simply splash bold colors on the page, but I haven’t figured it out. Instead, I take the slow road: a pencil sketch, followed several layers of watercolor. I like starting with a wet-in-wet wash to let colors merge on the paper. Then I deepen the color and add details and shadows last. If you have not painted leaves before, you might start with just one or two. This will build your skill and confidence before tackling more.

36 Comments on “Grounded

  1. I immediately laughed at your first sentence. That is so very much my experience, too. For several days I’ve been working on a double page spread of leaves from my yard. Then I opened your beautiful page. I looked at mine again and realize it’s still not finished. Thank you for the on going inspiration.

  2. I agree about painting leaves. Whenever I try, I can’t seem to render the rolled edges, with accurate fore- shortening. How do you do it?

  3. Beautiful stuff. Leaves are so fun and challenging, I find I over think them instead of adhering to the old adage of “paint what you see, not what you think you see.” Also I find that watercolor works so well, especially as you said the wet on wet, because of all the natural variations that happen with the paint it looks very natural.

  4. I so love seeing your lovely sketches/paintings of nature’s many wonders. Thanks also for information and tips as well.

  5. Such realistic leaves, with perfect shadowing. I did a double take because it looks like you laid the actual leaves on the paper. Fall colors are so rich and warm ….. and leaves are tricky to paint, for me. Thanks so much for your painting tips, Jean. Stay warm up there!

  6. I have trouble with mostly oaks. Which is all we have in our yard. Odd, huh? You make these leaves come to life. Beautiful.

    • Interesting…I found the oaks to be the easiest because they didn’t have a serrated edge. A combination of red and green merged to give me some nice browns and russets. One thing that helps me (and maybe you are already doing this) is to start with the internal structure of the veins. Then draw the outside edges.

  7. These are truly beautiful leaf portraits. The slow approach is the way to go, in my opinion. All the better for appreciating the nuance of colour, form and the life in the leaf.

  8. Every year…. without fail…. I canNOT resist the urge to pick up beautiful leaves I’ve found on the ground. Gingko leaves are my absolute favorite — I find myself just standing and staring at a gingko tree at it’s peak of color, just before they all drop from the tree as a beautiful robe falling to the ground from its shoulders. I always admire your technique that looks painterly and realistic at the same time — a touch of seriousness with a bit of whimsy — so very lovely and delightful.

    • Ah…the lovely Ginkgo! Yes, those leaves are so colorful and the shape is so nice. I don’t see many of them, but I know where a few are. They would make a fine painting.

  9. Jean you are a poet as well as a painter and a teacher! What a pleasure to read your notes and look at the beautiful leaves. Thank you.

  10. Thank you for sharing the picture.
    Yesterday I tried with a mix of dried leaves and paintings. It was so helpfull to see it side by side.
    Greetings from Germany

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: