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Hooked on Leaves - Explore

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Hooked on Leaves

For most of us, a sugar maple, with its scarlet and orange leaves, is the symbol of autumn. It's one of the most colorful fall maples, and the tree in my front yard has just begun to turn. I'm lucky to have one nearby; here in Maryland, in USDA Zone 7, we don't have the long, cold winters and mild summers that it actually prefers. Somehow this particular tree doesn't mind.

I learned contour drawing by using leaves. Oak and birch leaves were the subjects of my first good painting. I loved blending one color into the next on the wet paper:

Fierstonstudyno2 copy

I started by drawing a leaf, from life, on Yupo, a plastic "paper" I'm using these days. With a regular #2 pencil, I used the technique of contour drawing--following the edge of a leaf with my eye and making a corresponding line on the paper. My eye moved back and forth between the leaf and my drawing, correcting any lines that went wild or wrong.

This sugar maple leaf fell off my tree this morning, and you can see by the wet paint that I started painting it right away:

Maple1 copy
I love to play with color, and  it's easy to do when you paint on Yupo. Watercolors sparkle on this surface because the paint is not absorbed; it dries randomly, one color flowing into another. And, if you make a mistake, all you have to do is wipe it away with clean water and a paper towel. It's a relaxing change from the rigors of watercolor paper, where you must get it right the first time!

Here's the final leaf painting on Yupo:

Go ahead--grab some autumn leaves and give it a try!

-- Sue Fierston paints and teaches just outside of Washington, D.C. in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. As a painter, she works in acrylics and watercolor and is in the middle of a series called "100 Flowers." As a teaching artist, she works with teachers to bring art into their classrooms in grades 4-8. Her posts focus on her nature-themed art collaborations. For a look at her paintings or more about her teaching, check out her website at suzannefierston.com.

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