L is for Leaf

 leaf painting 11292014

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

~Joyce Kilmer

(Love that poem!)  I have a special fondness for trees, but I don’t find them easy to draw.  A windstorm blew threw recently and took a decent-sized limb off of one of our old trees, which gave me a great opportunity to get close enough to take a decent photo.   I planned to use it tonight for the letter L …..tried it…..and…..not so much.  It was a drawing disaster, had to throw it on the scrap heap.  Maybe without the snow, I could have made something out of it, but between the lichen, the texture and the snow, I had to cry uncle on that one.

So I pulled out a painting of a leaf I had tried in November from a book instead.  The book is “The Watercolourist’s Guide to Painting Buildings” and it was written by Richard Taylor.  Here’s his painting, from p. 79:

leaf book

If you have any interest in painting architecture in watercolor, I highly recommend it.  That texture looks really difficult to do, but he tells you the simple trick, which involves dripping clear water on the painting.  It was so easy that I was pretty pleased with my results on my first try.  My library had a copy, but I loved it so much that I eventually bought the book.  There are so many gorgeous old stone buildings in it, and inspiration overflows on every page.  He is an amazing artist.  He’s written several books on watercolor, including one on landscapes, and I plan to get hold of all of them eventually.  I never seem to finish the art books I start, but as I do, I’ll be posting my reviews here.

This daily art-making adventure is giving me a whole new appreciation for trees, birds, and even drinking glasses, because now I’m all fired up to draw most everything I see.   You may think you know something you see all the time pretty well, but I’ve found that until I tried to draw that object, I didn’t really know it.  This process is really as much about learning to see as anything else.  Often, I find that what I expect to see is not what’s actually there.  There is a huge difference, at least for me.  The key, I’m finding, is to draw what you see.  Once you make that transition, it becomes a whole lot easier.

I’m going back to the human form tomorrow for the letter M, and I hope you’ll stop by then!

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