Autumn Leaf Drawing Study – Tulip Tree Leaf

pastel pencil drawing of an autumn leaf

Drawn in pastel this drawing has taken me about 6 weeks to complete. I haven’t drawn it from dawn to dusk each day but worked on it most days.

The particular leaf in question literally landed at my feet back in the Autumn when I was sat on the back patio, a small seating area at the bottom of my garden. Back then it was a wonderful coppery colour with a twist in its body that immediately twitched my drawing hand.

I don’t know what it is about twisted things, I have always assumed that it is because it presents a greater challenge – and oh boy do I like a challenge. I am hoping that it isn’t representative of some twisted part of my personality.

Botanical studies are a wonderful thing. One of those things in an artists early working life that no one tells you about. What gets all the press and attention is life drawing – ie drawing people, figures, with or without clothes, or dragging your easel and the latest list of plein air equipment to some obscure part of our landscape and paint it.

Close up detail of a pastel pencil drawing of tulip tree leaf

Life drawing actually means from life and that little leaf, feather or acorn lying innocently on the ground is indeed life. The very essence of life in fact. Pick it up, pop it on your easel and draw away. No screens, no photos, no nothing in fact except you and your subject. I love doing them. Initially I started to draw some botanical studies and indeed still do as a break from either pestering people to sit for me, repeatedly drawing the dog, trying but failing to become a landscape artist or staring at a photo on a screen. I started with a little graphite drawing of a bunch of autumn berries which shockingly sold straight away. I went through a bit of angst and wasted quite a bit of time, money and resources on thinking I should be a botanical artist. I discovered that it wasn’t for me, but what I did learn was that whilst I loved doing these little botanical studies they really helped me develop skills that I could use in my main art areas. What skills? I have no idea! But everything seemed to get an awful lot easier and I suppose I could hazard a guess to say it was drawing from life, drawing detail and anything else you can throw in there about the benefits of drawing from life…

pastel pencil drawing of the stem of an autumn leaf

I chose to draw this piece with my pastel pencils because I have some lovely coppery colours and sanguine, sepia colours in my collection. I also am able to lay some oil pastel on the very top of the pastel to recreate the coppery glow of the highlights. Oil pastels and chalk pastels don’t really go that well together but I have found it quite useful to add oil pastel at the very end to create a bright colour or highlight.

For some reason my coloured pencil set has a limited amount of basic brown colours – the classic tan colour is seriously lacking.

I have made a little collection of various progress shots here….

My Autumn leaf drawing has now been framed & is available from my online shop. Click here to visit it.

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