Persimmon Leaves

I’m taking a sabbatical from my fig leaf renderings for a bit (see Fall Fig Leaves and Fallen Fig Leaf), but not from leaves altogether. The persimmon tree in the next yard extends several branches above the fence, into our yard. We get the leaves and our choice of the fruit that hangs over. When the fruit weighs down the branches, it is not uncommon for squirrels to forage for the choice persimmons. The squirrels running with orange orbs bigger than their heads often provide a morning’s entertainment during fruit season. Now and then there is a persimmon worthy of being preserved on film (see Weekly Photo Challenge: Fruit that Looks Like a Tush).

Today’s watercolor experiment:

Autumn brings out wonderful tree colors, even here in California. I was struck by the red-orange and yellow fringed persimmon leaves in our yard.

Reference photo:

Digital Photo: Persimmon Leaves

Persimmon Leaves

Note: Normally, I would have framed this photograph more precisely, but I wasn’t tall enough to fill the viewfinder properly.


I chose to frame my watercolor in landscape format instead of the portrait style of the photograph. My original sketch was a bit off center, so I added more context, in terms of tree trunks and branches, to complete the composition.

My first application of paint was the opaque cadmium yellow pale, a warm shade of yellow, around the edges and centers of the leaves. I experimented with different reds for the central, red-orange parts of the leaves. Cadmium red light was a bit too red, even when mixed with the cadmium yellow pale; Winsor red seemed a better choice as was the aureolin yellow, which I used to mix to create the orange of the leaves.

Since the leaves are not uniformly colored, I used a combination of different pigments (yellow ochre, Van Dyke brown) to change the values to indicate shadows, normal discoloration, indentations and the placement of the veins of the leaves.

I glazed each leave with warm orange (pigment PO73) to try unifying the color fields of each leaf. This caused a loss of some detail in some of the leaves, but seemed to work for the most part.

Watercolor study:

Watercolor: Persimmon Leaves

Persimmon Leaves
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper


I like the design of this watercolor much better than the framing of the photograph. The tree trunks and branches are pictorial elements that balance the composition.

The yellow highlights of the leaves as depicted in the photograph, are lacking for the most part, in the watercolor. Perhaps some touch up of the leaves is warranted, using opaque yellow gouache.

I am inclined to leave the background white, for a couple of reasons: the difficulty in filling in a background color behind an intricate foreground; the choice of an appropriate color.

2 thoughts on “Persimmon Leaves

  1. Lovely to see Persimmon leaves and hear of someone who actually has a (next door) Persimmon tree. Here I can only dream and write poems about them (I have a poem called Persimmons). I love your watercolour. Thank you…

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