Monday, 29 September 2014

Autumn, the Second Spring?

The quote I used in my last blog post got me thinking about how to look at autumn colour. Art for me is all about how we see things and how we can interpret the beauty of nature in the way that please us most. Fresh flowers are a joy to me, in their colour, fragrance and infinite variety of shape and size. Filling the house or studio with flowers is an absolute must, but what about their leaves.

In autumn, there are some beautiful flowers, such as Dahlias and Fuchsia flowers, but the real pizazz comes in the flaming blaze that trees provide as their last hurrah before dozing off to sleep for the winter. So, is every leaf a flower? It was time to take closer look.

From, 'The True Facts of Nature' by Rory McEwen
Crispness and colour of the season beautifully captured

    "Art is the right hand of Nature. The latter has only given us being, the former has made us men."

Friedrich Schiller

This scanned image of a leaf from earlier in September, really sums up how autumn colour really is in a league of it's own. The lush, green of spring and summer has drained completely, but replacing it, are the flame reds, oranges and rust browns that will herald the end of the leaf's lifespan. As Keats puts it, "Season of mists and mellow fruitfullness,"... (To Autumn)  

The ultimate colours of autumn

As autumn approaches, 
trees begin to break down the green chlorophyll in their leaves 
and redistribute the nutrients contained there to their trunk and roots. 
This keeps them going throughout the winter, when sunlight is sparse.

Other deciduous leaves that offer a fine display of autumn colour include the stunning Acers, Maples, oaks, (the east coast states of the USA especially, are famous for their 'Fall')

Autumn in New Hampshire.
The East coast of the USA 
is known for being host to some of the most colourful autumns in the world,
Which New England, 
among other locations along the East Coast, are famous for.
Image c/o Wikimedia 

Nandina domestica 'Firepower'
The heavenly bamboo has leaves that turn a fiery red
as autumn approaches.

Native to eastern Asia from the Himalayas to Japan.

This one still has plenty of green towards the centre of the leaf  

Yellows, golds and flashes of red are so
typical of the autumn colour that can be seen
on deciduous leaves in autumn.

Some research suggests that the redder the leaf,
the poorer the soil it grows on,
and the more the tree will try to recover it's nutrients
from it's leaves.

Nandina domestica again.

This leaf has lots of autumn colour with little to no green left 

 "It was October, and the air was cool and sharp, woodsmoke and damp moss exquisitely mingled in it with the subtle odours of the pines."

Algernon Blackwood, Secret Worship

Some of the autumn leaves from the garden 

Elsewhere, I have been putting together my latest small works, just to see how they go together as a display. And do you know, I'm actually quite chuffed.

Iris, Clematis and Dahlia.

Ah yes, but what about that artichoke? Well, as I was leafing through my precious and amazing copy of the Rory McEwen book, Colours of Reality, I was struck by an amazing painting he completed of an artichoke. Take a look at this, no pressure then. If I could paint half as good as this, I'd be pleased. 

Oh my.
Artichoke by Rory McEwen

The above link takes you straight to the estate website with loads of images from the
Rory McEwen collection 

Drum roll please...the winner of Sketchbook Squirrel's first prize draw is...Gillian G. Well done to Gillian and many thanks to all of you who took part.


Pappersdraken said...

Absolutely lovely lovely leaves!!!! Thank you so much for showing them ! :-) I think leaves, especially old ones or autumn ones are so much more interesting than a fresh flower- so much more to explore!
I live in Sweden where we now in october have forests gleaming and shining with colour, just as the new England ones you showed in your photo. Sometimes they shine so much in yellow and orange it is like an inner light comes from the trees. It makes the rainy days of autumn easier to bear and a sunny day- wow!

Sketchbook Squirrel said...

Thank you so much for your lovely comment Pappersdraken. I can imagine Sweden having an absolutely stunning autumn season and the way you describe it is just magical. here's to more sunny days :)