When I first moved from California to this state of New Hampshire, I was utterly startled the first time I saw the changing color of leaves in the fall. Photos I had seen of them seemed “enhanced” but here they were in real life just as brilliant and as saturated as those surrealistic photos! I found that I needed to test my eyes, so I set about mixing paint to recreate those colors – the blends were true to the pigments! Determined to test it further, I then painted each leaf to see if I could recreate them. What I began was a yearly habit of picking up the most interesting leaves I find then recreating them with paint on white cotton fabric then fusing them to a backing to be little, mini works of art. These are some of the leaves I painted in 2013.
Here is how I do it.
- Stretch plain white fabric onto a painting board taping it down with painters tape to keep it taut. My preferred fabric is Pima cotton due to the tight, fine, flat weave. My painters board is a simple coated board available at Lowes or Home Depot in a 4′ x 8′ length that I have them cut for me into smaller sizes.
- Using the actual leaf, I trace it onto the fabric using either a fine retractable pencil or preferably an archival black pen .01.
- I mix my paints to match…
- Then I start painting using the patterning on the leaves as a guide but I do use some artistic license so each completed leaf is different from the next. I will add water to the paint when I want a more blended look and some times I add pencil to create the little imperfections or veining in the leaves.
- When I am finished I let the fabric dry completely then I iron each piece of fabric with a very hot iron to set the paint. Then using a heavy gauge fusible adhesive web, I fuse the painted fabric to a solid color coordinated fabric.
- When completely cooled I cut out each leaf with fine scissors.
- To shape the leaf I VERY CAREFULLY use the tip of my very hot iron to press and pull the leaf into a curled shape along the vein lines. Finito.
- They are fun to look at, wrap packages with and I make them into lapel pins for we daring folk who want to look like a trees. Pins are available through the League of NH Craftsmen galleries in: Meredith, Littleton, Hanover and at the Hooksett rest stop gallery. Also available at Canterbury Shaker Village.
This sweet little leaf was picked up on my road, a harbinger, for sure, of the ne’er too soon onslaught of vivid botanical color and the excitement that comes along with it in Autumn. I can hardly wait.
The reds, oranges and golds of fall are all the long wave-length colors so they literally touch us more profoundly, bouncing up against us to stimulate excitement. In Candace B. Pert’s book “Molecules of Emotion” she describes this chain reaction, bio-chemical process…we can either go along for the ride or close our eyes.
I personally love the ride! The season makes me feel enlivened and purposeful so I have prepared myself to take advantage of the inspiration it brings. The studio is tidy, paint tubes are full and the fabric is ready…let’s see what comes out.