Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

 Here in the Uk, things are all up in the air again, I have just heard the news that The PM has resigned. Most of us are looking on in amazement at the chaos in Westminster, while we worry about our own finances....


So on a much calmer note , I am carrying on painting , and taking solace in the autumn colours 


Devon is looking glorious today , bathed in autumn sunshine, leaves falling past my studio window. The colours are different and interesting on every single leaf. A recent walk to Fingle bridge was so lovely

So much to see.

Then back home the dahlias are still doing their thing. 



I try to get out and about as much as I can, walking, looking and thinking. These are as much a part of the process as painting is. I need to understand something before it can form on the page so observing  things and being excited about how they really are can form the beginnings of an idea.

Without realising it I am very much influenced by where I am and what is happening around me, so my paintings change as the seasons do. I feel connected to this place, where I live, and seeing a familiar tree, don it's autumn foliage, feels like meeting with an old friend again. 

So as it is autumn, I thought I would try and explain ( a bit ) about how I paint leaves at this time of year.

I often have my phone with me and I try to take photos for reference .

I begin to paint a leaf as a whole thing. I paint it in one go, leaving some white spaces for the light to bounce off the surface. I paint all the colours I see on a leaf in one go. From green to orange, to yellow ochre.

There is red in there, is it a warm red or a cool one...I need to really look.

Then I move onto another leaf and leave my first one to dry. I shall return to it.

See how I move around the leaves and really look for the colours in each one..

There is often more green in autumn leaves than you think. Paint what you see, not what you think you see.


I may well then go in and add darker patches, where the leaf is folded.

Adding shadows to the leaves.

Some leaves may need stems or branches, thorns or lichen. 

It is also nice to add spots to leaves and many of them have holes in them. 

Try not to be too specific , hit at veins and crinkles, and lights and darks.

Add berries and greener leaves, all plants change at a different pace.


Adding leaves to my work grounds it in the autumn, and in my Devon lanes. 

Practice your leaves , try doing them wet in wet and let your brush dance around like the leaves in autumn.

The more you look then the more you'll see.

Colours green , yellow ochre, lemon yellow, cobalt blue, alizarin crimson, cadmium red ., cerulean blue, burnt sienna, burnt umber, cadmium orange, sepia, 

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I use Bockingford watercolour paper

Watercolours By Rachel

Hi Rachel, what paper do you use? I’ve just started painting this year and think I need to upgrade to better quality watercolour paper. The ladybird landscape panting my wife bought for me is fantastic; so much fine detail to discover.

Trevor Rea

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