Sidewalk Leaf

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I decided to continue following the advice of Leonardo DaVinci who said, “Those who are in love with practice without knowledge are like the sailor who gets into a ship without rudder or compass and who never can be certain [where] he is going. …”  Yesterday the goal of my practice was to ‘glisten’. The subject of yesterday’s watercolor study was a leaf. The only variable in that composition was the appearance of wetness. The coloration of the leaf was otherwise monotonic.

The object of today’s practice was the representation of a multicolored leaf that, like yesterday’s subject, was found on the ground. I paid particular attention to the still-living color at its center, ebbing to a crispy brown at the edges.


I began with a coat of lemon yellow on the entire leaf. This was safe since the green center of the leaf can be realized with a glaze of blue.  Below are the first four stages of the body of the sidewalk leaf.

Watercolor: First 4 stages of Sidewalk Leaf

I alternated glazes of Prussian blue and lemon yellow, with a bit of phthalo green as well.

Below is the penultimate stage of my sidewalk leaf, with quinacridone nickel, red-brown edges:

Watercolor: Penultimate stage of Sidewalk Leaf


Now, a portrait of a leaf on a sidewalk would be nothing without the sidewalk. Here is the reference photograph.

Digital Photograph: Sidewalk Leaf Reference Photo

I prepared the sidewalk by laying down a wash of Buff Titanium. After drying, I added a bit of neutral tint to lower the tone of the background.

Watercolor: Leaf on the Sidewalk

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

As a final flourish, I spritzed black, white gouache and neutral tint onto the plain sidewalk. Before this, I dabbed the wet gray background with a paper towel to give it a variegated look.


I like this study. I could have blended some of the reddish edges more finely into the yellow, but the overall effect  of the color combination is pleasing, and much like the actual (near) life model.

3 thoughts on “Sidewalk Leaf

  1. Hi Jack!
    First, this is beautiful. I will have to give this a try! I am by no means an artist however, I am certainly inspired to give it a try after seeing this beautiful work of art!

    Second, I saw you stopped by my page and liked my most recent post: Glad to see you liked my post and are keeping in touch! It is rather encouraging that someone is reading my thoughts.
    I have to ask, if you have the time will you go back to my page and let me know what you would do if you won the lottery!?
    All the best<3


    • Thank you Kalyssa. I’m so glad you like my work.

      As far as the lottery… My wife asks me that all the time. She’s like you, wanting to donate to all kinds of charities. That sounds like something I would like to do as well. For myself, I wouldn’t do much different. I would probably get the best art teachers and a studio and all kinds of supplies, go to art museums around the world, etc. etc.

      Keep writing!



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