As you can see, I am of two minds when it comes to October.
What kind of month is it? It is either the End of Easy Living (oh, how I love feeling 10 years younger every day in Summer Mind), or it’s The Beginning of Coziness (I look better in soft wooly sweaters than in tank tops). Hard to tell, so why choose?
Here’s a season-appropriate take on our conversation last week, re: Fine Art v. Illustration.
This is Fine Art:
This is Illustration:
Here’s proof (by me, of course):
One thing that I know for sure about October is that it is time to find my Perfect Fall Leaf of the Year.
I’ve been searching far and near: my backyard:, a walk around the block, and a journey to a little nature preserve that is 9 miles away but the way I drive, it’s 24 1/2 (I’ve been living here 11 years on Long Island and I can still get lost 5 miles from home.) The color out there is pretty spectacular:
Notice that I prefer to take my Fall Color photos on an overcast day.
That’s because I work exclusively from photos, and low light is the only way to get real color out of the scene. For contrast, here’s a picture I took on a gloriously sunny day:
See that center radiance? In real life, it was a vibrant glowing orange — not a pale yellow; the bright light washed out the whole loveliness of this view. So I prefer to get the photo with color — light effects I can paint in on my own, later.
But still…is there anything more wonderful than a bright and mild Fall Day?
Besides any random old day in SUMMER, I mean?
I found some interesting color when I stopped by a local garden called Cedarmere, home of William Cullen Bryant (read all about him and his garden in my Damn Garden Book):
You will never catch me painting out in the public like this:
For one thing, I can not stand up while I paint. Just can’t do it. Well, come to think of it, I can do it, I just don’t want to.
Every year my annual Fall Leaf Painting post gets the most hits of anything else I put up on this blog — literally tens of people tune in. Just to remind you, here’s the last leaf I painted (before this blog went florange), in 2013:
This year, before I set to painting The Perfect Fall Leaf of 2015, I’m going to show you something that I’ve never discussed. I’m going to show you how I choose my Perfect Fall Leaf to paint.
First of all, it can’t be boring:
That leaf above is from a Tulip Tree, which can grow to 60 – 80 feet straight up. They are called The Redwoods of the East and were one of the first trees sent from the American colonies back to England, where they became (and still are) a favorite shade tree for large country estate gardens. Their foliage is prized for its brilliant yellow-spectrum hues:
But what I’ve shown you so far are just baby Tulip Tree leaves. Here’s a grown-up one:
Yeah, I’m not painting that.
My criteria for the Perfect Fall Leaf is that it must contain every color of the season, particularly green; to do that, I have to get it either right before or right after it falls off the branch. Timing is everything in the Fall, because nothing moves faster than the peak of this season.
Here is what is wrong with the following beautiful Fall leaves:
I don’t do interesting viens anymore, because I did some in past years and they don’t look real, or convincing as an illustration, no matter how perfectly you paint them, like this:
For the same reason, I also don’t paint weird leaves, like this:
I did this interestingly weird leaf (below) to a T, and I’ve never really cared for the end product:
This next leaf is a nice mix of colors, but it’s small:
And I’ve learned that these kind of small, chicken-poxy leaves, in the end, don’t have enough oomph to be a Perfect, Stand Alone Fall Leaf:
I’m willing to consider a little decrepitude, if it’s picturesque enough:
But I also want to do something that I haven’t done before:
Too beat up:
But my search was not entirely in vain. I did find a few leaves that might, maybe, possibly be The One.
So here are the contenders:
No, I’m not going to show you the painting process today — I think this thinking process has been taxing enough for the last Friday in October. Because while I might have divided feelings about October, I am of ONE MIND when it comes to November: