Leaves in the Rain

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I love to take photographs of objects that catch my eye, as I mentioned the other day. However, sometimes I can’t resist an entire scene, uniformly lit. It’s been rainy and overcast here for the past few days. Overcast light is wonderful, as it seems to come from everywhere.  Today’s photograph is not remarkable in its composition, but is so in its lighting.

Digital Photo: Leaves After the Rain


In my interpretation of the scene above, I changed the composition to include the red persimmon leaves, a couple of fig leaves and a tangle of branches in a more manageable design.

I sketched the branches first, relying loosely on the reference photo; I outlined the leaves next. Neutral tint colored the dark undersides of the branches. The top parts of the branches remained white, to give the impression of wetness. The leaves began with lemon yellow – later I overpainted them with a combination of cadmium red light, quinacridone burnt orange and yellow ochre.

The background in the photo is dark compared with the leaves. My next task for this sketch, was to paint the jigsaw puzzle-like shapes formed by the branches and the edges of the leaves dark. I did not want a solid dark mass, so I began with shadow green, which I blotted with a paper towel almost immediately. In order to make the light green of the fig leaves look like they were in the foreground, I mixed a bit of cadmium red in with the shadow green.  The problem was to make these red-green areas blend into the other dark green areas that did not have a greenish tint.  I wanted the red persimmon leaves to stand out in front of a green-yellow background for maximal contrast.

Watercolor: Red Persimmon Leaves and Green Fig Leaves

Leaves After the Rain
9″x12″ 140# Rough Watercolor Block


I like this composition, both the design and the color combinations. The top parts of the branches could be a bit more uniform in their whiteness; and perhaps the background could be a bit darker. Next time I will probably use an opaque white ink or paint as an outline. Another alternative would be to paint the branches with latex resist. Then I could paint the background as a complete entity. However I did a pretty good job of matching and blending the separate background pieces.

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