Autumn Leaves

Last week, the instructor asked us to bring in some leaves this week because she was going to demonstrate how to mix colors on the paper.

But yesterday  I happened upon an online demo about that very subject, so I decided to give it a try.

For my first study, I traced three of the leaves I had dried and just went ahead and painted them. But I keep forgetting how much lighter the pigments dry! So I re-wetted the two large ones, and went over them again. The smaller one I left as is because some of the leaves are kind of pale. All I did to that one was to add some spatter, like the original model.

One trick I discovered is to take a very small brush and extend all the main lobes into a sharp point. I find that makes the leaves look more realistic.

My second study was this single large leaf, that I painted in class, today. I was fascinated by the paleness of the colours, their vibrancy. 

At what point does a maple leaf decide it's going to put on this more subtle kind of show?

(This one will enlarge if you click on it.)

And then I painted this third study, of smaller leaves.

That poor little maple leaf sure took a beating from Nature.

I used violet for the speckles on the little yellow one. And  I like the way the purple one turned out, with its very realistic veins.

(This one will enlarge too.)

I made the veins by scratching with the end of a brush that has a bevel designed especially for that purpose, apparently.

Not to brag, but my leaves were the nicest of the whole class. Yet nary a compliment from the instructor. Hm.

But my favorite leaf is not there. It's this oak leaf that I allowed to dry out in the open, where it acquired some interesting curls.


  1. These are really lovely. I've been trying to do autumn leaves with watercolour pencils but I'm not happy with the results. Any chance you could provide the link to the online tutorial you mentioned?

    1. Thank you, Jill. Sorry, I don't remember the demo but I just googled "autumn leaves watercolor tutorial" and "autumn leaves watercolor demo" and found several videos.

      It's that time of year again, now you've reminded me how much I had enjoyed hunting for the perfect leaves to paint!

      Good luck with yours!