One of the great joys of being in New England during fall is the chance to see the leaves change color! Not only do the leaves transform right in front of our eyes, but they also make their way to the ground as the trees prepare for winter dormancy. This yearly accumulation of excess of leaves on the ground provides the perfect opportunity to make detailed leaf observations in our nature journals!
Trees that shed their leaves in preparation for a winter, hibernation-like state are called deciduous. Each fall the trees shut off the nutrient source to their leaves resulting in dramatic color change as the chlorophyll, which gives them their green color, drains out of them. Although these leaves will eventually fade to brown, by recording them in our journals, we can appreciate their unique colors, shapes, and patterns for years to come.
Below are some tips and tricks on how to sketch and record fall leaves in your journals taken from Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth’s Keeping a Nature Journal and Clare Walker Leslie’s The Nature Connection.
Create A Collection
The first thing to do before recording observations is to find some leaves! Take a walk and pick up any leaves that speak to you. Try to find a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. The more eclectic your collection, the more you have to work with! You can organize your leaves however you’d like: size, shape, color, texture, etc. Find a website, or a tree guide to help you identify some of your leaves. Take some time to appreciate your collection and then grab your journal to start recording your observations and your findings.
Starting With Shapes
Next Comes Colors
(The Fun Part)
The way you choose to color your leaves is completely up to you. You can play with different mediums: paint, pencils, water colors, pens, pencils, or whatever! With whichever utensil you choose, practice different strokes and styles to get the effect you are looking for. Adding color with changing weights will help to add depth to your observations. You can even use multiple utensils to show different textures and shadows!
It may help to pick your color palette ahead of time. You can experiment with mixing your colors to create gradients and seamless transitions between different hues.
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