Loving the Leaves

Usually at this time of year I’m painting landscapes filled with autumn colors. This year is an exception, however. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but the paintings I’m currently working on include cherry trees in the spring, a summery North Carolina beach sunrise, and a snowy Colorado winter scene.

What happened to autumn?

Somehow I seem to have missed out on all the glorious reds, and oranges, and yellows that are part of the season, especially here in the midwest. True indeed, the leaves of our trees are changing colors, and — much to my husband’s dismay — falling to the ground.

Instead of painting leaves, I’m drawing them. In graphite. No colors. Just black and white. And you know what? I’m loving it. Drawing becomes more enjoyable day by day, and I’m happy that I’ve finally reached a point where I can draw the trees I love so much and actually draw their leaves, as well.

Here’s a recent page from my sketchbook, with drawings based on illustrations in William F. Powell’s Landscape drawing book.

FI Trees (2)

For me, nothing in art means more than drawing and painting trees. I love trees of all sorts — tall trees, short trees, evergreen trees, flowering trees. For such a long, long time, I struggled to create realistic-looking trees, and I’m delighted that all my practice time is finally paying off. While far from perfect, my trees are definitely much better now than in the past, and I’m especially pleased at having learned to create foliage. My illusions are beginning to look like leaves. At least, I think they do. What do you think?

One thing I know for sure is that practicing does make us better artists, and as we become better at art, we enjoy it more. I absolutely love to sit down with my sketchbook and draw landscape scenes — or anything else, for that matter. I know I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again. Drawing is a skill that anyone can learn, and learning to draw opens up so many wondrous new possibilities.

Maybe you’re growing tired of hearing me go on and on about how much fun drawing is. You’ve probably known that fact for a long time. But for me, this is an exciting new discovery. Seeing my art improve day by day brings me so much joy and happiness. And now, being able to draw convincing trees — with convincing leaves — makes my heart sing.

It’s probably a simple thing to many of you, but to me, it’s special, so thanks for letting me share my drawings with you.


  1. Great job! I would be interested in seeing how you manage with a dense foliage tree (e.g. a Maple in Summer) and also a very “graceful” tree such as a Weeping Willow.

    The “trap” that many aspiring artists can easily fall into is finding a medium that they really do well with … and then stay within that comfort zone. i.e. they trade off developing their skills with other mediums because of their pleasure with a single medium.

    I must stress that it is not necessarily bad to specialize as there are obvious benefits, but I wouldn’t want you to do well in your black and white drawings, but look back in a few years and regret not really working more with (e.g.) water colours.

    In the meantime, you’re “on a roll” so keep going! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Graphite drawing is a day-by-day learning process for me. I enjoy it. Mostly I spend my time oil painting, and I feel that graphite drawing will help me improve my painting. I’ve read that artists should explore different genres and different media, and that’s what I do. I have no interest in becoming a pastel artist, but it’s good to occasionally pick up soft pastels and see what new artistic insights I might gain. Exploring mixed media is giving me the opportunity to learn a lot about many different avenues of art, and while different media and different genres may seem to have little in common, I believe that all arts are connected at a certain level of awareness. What we gain in one area will help us improve in all other areas. It may not be a direct correlation, but those “connections” are still there. So I play with watercolor. I play with pastels. I try dozens of new mixed media techniques. I do my oil painting, and I do graphite and ink drawings. Were I to focus exclusively on one area such as oil painting, I imagine I would soon become jaded and bored. My techniques might improve, but my work would lack the energy and vitality that comes from exuberantly embracing and exploring all of art. Above all, art should be fun, don’t you think?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Totally agree with you. My “dabbling” in oils triggered a number of poems all based around the resulting picture. If you are open-minded and receptive to exploring various other expressions of art, it can become quite the adventure. While my oil painting lead me to poetry, some of them took me on to music. You, like me, are going to make mistakes …. have disasters, but from those mistakes/disasters can grow a whole new level of involvement. Keep smiling! Keep going! 🙂

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  3. I think your drawings are pretty wonderful. i love trees too, but my trees here in Australia are quite a different breed. all my life I have been told I have a gift for drawing, but really, as you say all it is is practice and a lot of it. As a kid, it was just fun to draw. As adults we seem to lose the “Fun” bit and don’t draw as much. I am doing a short, free course on scientific drawing and finding my love for drawing returning. Truly, as you say drawing the things you love, like leaves (me too – obsessed) is the best road to improving drawing, but a little variation (in my case instigated by the tutor) helps to broaden that skill. Don’t let it become a chore though, because then the childlike enjoyment is lost.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Vicki. I’d love to see your Australian trees! I guess in a lot of ways my experiences with art have been different from most people’s. I didn’t enjoy art as a child — other than coloring books. I always wanted to be able to draw, but I couldn’t, so I hated to even try. I wasn’t “artistic” in any way, except for my ability to see and match colors. I bought books on how to draw and tried to learn. I just couldn’t do it. That’s why it was so surprising that finally — at this late age — I managed to learn basic drawing skills. I’m done more drawing in the last few years than I ever did during the rest of my life. It’s all new and wondrously exciting for me, especially now that it’s finally starting to get a little bit easier. Part of it is that I no longer worry so much about whether or no I can draw the subject. I know I can. Maybe it won’t be a great drawing, but it will be recognizable for what it’s supposed to be. LOL. That added boost of confidence makes drawing lots of fun for me now. I never had that fun as a child.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that one of the main reasons people believe they can’t draw is that it takes time to actually draw anything except a stick figure. So, if you don’t actually enjoy the doing, you are not likely to persist enough to actually finish a drawing. when we learn to relax and enjoy what we are doing, practice becomes easy and voila! we learn to draw, as you have. congratulations.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, the amount of time it takes to complete a good drawing surprised me. I used to think that artists just sat down with a pencil and paper and in moments turned out perfect drawings. Nope. It sure doesn’t work that way. Being an impatient person, I struggled — I still do struggle with “rushing” at times. But this is another thing art has taught me. Patience pays off. And once I settle down and get into that “meditative” state — which happens more easily now — drawing becomes a truly joyous experience.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great that you share your enthusiasm & beautiful drawings! I think it’s important to be led by the soul so that you’re doing work you’re fully immersed in rather than what you think you should be doing! I wrote a post about this recently. Keep up the great work! 👍🏼😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. It’s true that I’ve become more enthusiastic about drawing in recent weeks. I seem to have finally reached a point where it’s starting to feel, if not easy, at least somewhat natural. That’s a new experience for me, and it’s given me a new appreciation for drawing. I will be checking out your post!


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