November 2, 2014

Leaf Collector

I have loved leaves as long as I can remember. Although I admire them throughout the seasons, autumn leaves capture my heart.  Whenever I walk with Meeko, I bring a handful of leaves home. So over a few weeks, my collection grows and grows.

Sometimes you can find leaves that are already perfectly dried on the ground and they will retain their shape. If leaves are still humid, they will curl up when left to dry on their own. This year, I figured out that if I placed light twigs on the top of a small pile of leaves, they dried in a very nice natural way. Previously, I've tried drying them by weighing them down with books but then you end up with leaves that are as flat as pancakes and you lose their lovely contours and curves. When I was in elementary school, I can remember that we used to iron them between two pieces of wax paper. Supposedly, they will retain their colour longer than way but they are, of course, completely flat. I prefer having some contour and curls.

When I return from walks, I tend to put the leaves I've collected in our dining room as I like to look at them. After a few weeks, the side table starts to look a bit like a display in a nature museum. A few days ago, I collected all my dried leaves into a box and brought them up to my studio. I couldn't resist arranging them by type and colour.

Last year, I bought a clear glass vase for my painting table and I now display some of my leaf collection in it, refreshing the leaves each autumn.

And I guess it will not come as a surprise that I painted some leaves too! Last November, I painted two maples leaves and a maple key. I thought the painting was finished at the time but it didn't feel quite right and I put it in my painting drawer. 

This week, I added a curled leaf and maple key to the painting and the composition feels much better! I also added more colour and details to everything. The first photo below was taken yesterday. The second was taken at the end of the day today. I think it's finished now although I always take the time to stare at a painting for a while to know for sure.

The finished painting today
An excerpt from 'The Autumn' by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Perfect soundtrack: Nick Drake 'Five Leaves Left'

❤  ❤  ❤  ❤  


  1. I used to collect leaves, but after so many moves, I got rid of them. I need to pick some new ones, thanks for the inspiration !
    Your painting looks wonderful ! I agree, the curled one adds more life & realism. :)

    1. Thanks so much, Sonia. I hope you find some beautiful ones. :)

  2. Kathleen,
    Beautiful thoughts and pictures, and painting to go with all. Sigh. Thanks so much!

    1. Thanks, Nancy. It's nice to share with fellow leaf lovers.

  3. That box of leaves is such a treat, and the vase to view them through is brilliant, the painting looks so delightful too, a lovely time of year, I could easily collect up all the leaves whist walking my dog :)


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