Abstract Fig Leaf

Having been an observer of leaves during the time of change from summer to autumn, I have included them as subjects in many of my recent watercolor studies (Leaves in the Rain, Fallen Fig Leaf, Fall Fig Leaves).  Now that they are mostly on the ground (the leaves, that is), I can either turn my attention to branches and twigs (and one leaf, as I did the other day), revert to my photographic store of captured leaf images, or let my imagination loose to play with the concept of a leaf.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

Liquid latex:

Thank goodness I found some actual liquid, liquid latex. In one of my studies a week or so ago, I had the unfortunate experience of trying to use some of my liquid latex resist that had coagulated to a large extent. Bad idea. If that should happen again, I’ll just toss it instead of using it. My friction burn, sustained when removing said latex, is just now healing.

I had a leaf in mind when I started pouring the resist medium onto my paper. Just the idea; no visual preconception of what my study would look like. I poured a little too much latex in one area, so I dipped my chop stick into it and drew ray-like projections around it and the other blobs.

I did know that I wanted the basic design to include a merged combination of two different colors; after the latex (nearly) dried, I created a pool of lemon yellow in the center and surrounded it with a pool of blue (Prussian, I think). When I connected the pools, the colors merged. I applied a darker (indanthrone) blue around the edges of the paper.

Below is my study after merging of the colors and removal of the latex:

Watercolor: Abstract - stage 1: leaf and sunNote to self – before using brush over latex make sure it is thoroughly dry. While waiting for the colors to dry, I spent much the time picking semi-dried latex from the bristles of the brush I used to apply the colors. Unfortunately I inadvertently punctured the skin of the not-yet-dried rubber.

Next step:

In deciding the colors to use, I thought first about the visual impact. Therefore, I used cadmium orange for the rays at the bottom of the picture plane, to contrast with the complementary blue background. I added more red for the rays at the top, where the background is on the green side.

The unplanned blob of latex provided for a serendipitous placement of the sun.

I decided that the peripheral drips should be green (a light phthalo green), representing the outline of a leaf. I colored the more central drips a darker green (Hooker’s). I left the inner sanctum the original yellow-green color that resulted from the merging of the yellows and the blues.

Watercolor: Abstract - leaf and sun

Abstract Leaf
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I like this study. I started it as an abstract, but it seems very representational to me. The light green outline has a fig-leaf-like quality to it. The iconic sun is providing energy and the internals of the leaf are transforming it. The orange rays emerge from the leaf as a result of internal processes.

Perhaps not everyone would arrive at this same narrative after looking at this composition, although it seems rather obvious to me.

Aside from the narrative, I like the harmonious arrangement of color.

2 thoughts on “Abstract Fig Leaf

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