Thursday, September 15, 2011

Is is fall yet?

Laurel oak leaf, originally uploaded by Elizabeth Smith.

With temperatures still in the low to mid-nineties here in south Florida, this is the question on my mind almost every day during the last half of September. I found this laurel oak leaf on the ground the other day, and it reminded me that fall is lurking around the corner.

Just in the last few days, the mornings have been a tiny bit cooler, and the air has been drier. The sky has taken on a tinge of cooler blue as the earth tilts away from the sun. Fall in Florida doesn’t have the drama and glory it does further up the northern hemisphere, but it does have a subtle splendor.

This tattered, beaten-up leaf still glowed with color, inspiring me to try to capture them in watercolor. I painted this in a new watercolor sketchbook by Strathmore, purchased at Michaels with a 40% off coupon! And since it was a low price to start, I felt I couldn’t go too wrong.

It is the Strathmore Windpower Watercolor pad, spiral bound, with 15 sheets of cold press 140 lb. acid-free paper. I bought the small size (6 x 9 inches) for field and small study painting and sketching. I like the clear white color of the paper and the way it takes initial washes. I also like the heavier paper in this book; I used a fairly wet wash on the leaf and had no buckling at all.

What I didn’t like was the way my watercolor lifted when I attempted to add another glaze layer, but I think that is partly my choice of paint color. Still, I’m used to the Pentalic sketchbook that seems to “grab” all of my watercolors. I think I need to experiment more with getting my initial washes right, and fuss less with detail.

I sketched this first in pencil, and then painted with Daniel Smith watercolors: Quinacridone Gold, Sap Green, Raw Sienna, Burnt and Raw Umber, and Cadmium Red. Darker vein accents were a mixture of Raw Umber and Indanthrone Blue; the shadow is a mix of Shadow Violet plus Indanthrone Blue.

It’s been a lot, hot summer for many of us, but I know some of you in the upper parts of the northern hemisphere are enjoying autumn already, with cooler temperatures and even frost!