Friday, October 14, 2022

Dayton Avenue Maples


10/11/22 Crown Hill neighborhood

After more than two weeks of smoky skies, the air finally cleared on Tuesday. To celebrate, I threw open all the windows and doors, even though it was still a bit chilly in the morning, and inhaled deeply. Ahhhh! Then I took the top down and headed for the Crown Hill neighborhood: My annual leaf-peeping tour was on!

You’ve seen these trees on my tour many times. Nearly every year, I sketch this traffic circle at Northwest 83rd and Dayton Avenue North, where three slender, tightly packed maples stand. (I can only ever see two at a time; I only know there are three because of the trunks.) The one facing south always turns first, and it’s usually done by the time the other two are at peak. I try to sketch them at various times of day, different times of year, and from different directions.

A fast line worker... I hardly had time to sketch him.
Of all the times I’ve sketched there, I’d never seen human activity nearby. What a treat: Halfway through my sketch this week, a line workers’ crew showed up, including flaggers directing traffic at the circle. I quickly put one guy in, but they moved around quickly, so I made a separate sketch. Then I caught the line worker – barely. He was up there for only a minute or two, then the team moved on down the street.

Just for fun, I’ve included below a few sketches from previous years. I have more than these, but I chose the ones sketched closest to Oct. 11, the date I made the sketch above, to compare the difference in coloring. It’s also fun to see how my media have changed over the years (and hopefully my skills).

Secondary triad note: Although I’m mostly happy with the secondary triad I’ve been using the past few weeks, I sometimes miss yellow. I haven’t missed blue at all, and red is easily improvised with the red-orange I’ve been using as part of the triad. Yellow, however, is impossible to fake (Caution/SLOW sign yellow, which I used above, doesn’t help, as it’s more yellow-orange). When I compare this year’s sketch to previous years when I had a full palette, I wish I’d had a true yellow to put more light on the very tops of the trees. Maybe I’ll put yellow back in.

10/14/15 watercolor

10/5/17 watercolor pencils, marker

10/19/18 watercolor pencils, wax pastels

10/22/20 watercolor pencils


  1. Loving those purple shadows! I think you're right about the yellow, and it would add a nice contrast to the shadows, too. I like the sketches of the work crew.

  2. I like comparing the effects that you get with the different kinds of media. Each one is so different. It is hard to work without a yellow. I've been thinking of finding a nice yellow watercolor pencil to put in my bag. Invariably when I reach for my yellow paints (and there are 3 of them in my palette) they are all contaminate with green. It is hard for me to get a pure yellow without wiping paint off the yellows.

    1. I remember from my watercolor days how hard it was to keep yellow clean! If you get a Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle, it is so rich in pigment that you will feel like you are using paints! :-)


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