Thursday, October 20, 2022

Backyard Leaf-Peeping


10/16/22 On the other side of the fence to the east

On Sunday the temperature got up to 82 – unheard of for mid-October in these parts. It’s been a scary year for broken weather records. But the good news was that the air quality index went from “unhealthy” to “moderate,” so we took our lunches out to the back deck. During the many days that we couldn’t go outdoors, the Japanese maple in the yard to our east had turned a dazzling red-orange.

Partial activation before spritzing.

Process notes: It’s unusual to sketch a tree at close enough range to see some leaf detail, so it was an opportunity to try something a little different. After my usual vigorous application of watercolor pencils with foliage and shadow colors, I used a waterbrush to activate only the shadow areas in the tree and on the fence (photo of this stage at right). My intention with that step was to keep the tree’s shadow areas from blurring too much into the foliage and muddying the warmer hues. 

When that was dry, I spritzed the foliage with my water sprayer as usual. Since the previously activated areas were dry, I knew they wouldnt reactivate much with additional spritzing, minimizing muddiness. As a final step, while the foliage was still wet, I used my Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle Cornelian (850) (the cool red-orange in my secondary triad palette) to draw the curved umbrella shapes that Japanese maple leaf clusters form.


  1. It is nice to see you found a way to show a little more detail. I'm glad you finally had a day where you could sit outside. I would have a hard time confining myself to stay indoors. I hope the clearer air continues.

  2. I really like the detail in the foliage! Nice job and interesting process photo.


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