Autumn Colors

Last night was a fun night at Gettin’ Sketchy. It offered a chance to get out a few art supplies I haven’t used in a very long time — pan pastels and Faber-Castell’s Polychromos colored pencils. Here’s my creation for the timed-drawing session:

New Autumn Colors Leaf

As you can see, it’s done on my Strathmore Gray Toned sketchbook paper. Once again I finished my drawing well in advance of the instructor. Where he struggled to complete his work in the allotted forty-five minutes, I was through with mine after about thirty minutes. I’m not nearly as accurate with details as he is, nor do I usually add a background. In his drawing, Matt — “The Virtual Instructor” — used a soft white pastel stick to lay down a beautiful background, and he then added gray for the cast shadow.

I have problems creating realistic-looking shadows, so I opted for a bluish-gray and added only a hint of shadow.

We began the project by making a simple outline drawing of the maple leaf — one that Matt had found in his yard yesterday morning. I did mine with graphite, getting a slight head start on him. He chose a brown colored pencil to draw his outline, so I switched over and re-outlined my drawing with brown.

Pan PastelsNext came applications of colors using pan pastels. I purchased a basic “starter set” several  years ago. The set contains primary colors, white, black, green, and brown.

When I bought them, I used them a few times, but never really developed any skill with them — or with any pastels. So, it was fun to bring them back out and play with them.

In case you’re not familiar with pan pastels, they’re applied with a special applicator which is included with the set. It looks a lot like a palette knife with a small sponge attached.

After applying the pastels, we switched over to colored pencils, going over the colors again and adding a few details. I did what I could, adding a few veins to the leaf as well as a few brown spots. I then went ahead and worked on adding that bit of blue-gray shadow.

I enjoyed the project, and I’m happy to say that more and more I feel that drawing is getting a little easier for me. I no longer struggle as much as I once did, and I don’t worry too much about my finished drawing. Even if it’s not a perfect re-creation of our reference, it certainly does look like a maple leaf dressed in autumn colors. That’s what the lesson was all about. I think I got that part right.

There will be two more episodes of Gettin’ Sketchy, so if you haven’t checked it out yet — it’s free — come and join the fun next Wednesday evening.



  1. If you see shadows as weakness in your art (and they can be very tricky), have you considered focusing on shadows for a while? You could start with a simple square block drawing (relatively easy shadow); add an extension to the block (still not complicated); Imagine your block structure is a house and add a roof (a little more complex shadow). Perhaps do the same with curves, in that you could start with a ball shape; expand it to an egg shape. It might be beneficial to focus on the shadows in your home when the lights are on, and sketch them. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I hate it! The best way around it that I’ve found was to go back to an old post that I wrote before the block editor came in. I copied that post and renamed it TEMPLATE, then saved it as a draft. Now when I write a new post, I copy the TEMPLATE post and rename it. It lets me write posts much like I used to. You might want to try it and see if that trick works for you.

      Liked by 1 person

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