The Memory Of Aspen Leaves In Autumn

Several days ago, George and I took Dot for a walk through a wooded area and the ground was covered in aspen leaves. They made the air smell so sweet and brought back memories from my first days of school.

We didn’t have kindergarten in our district, this was a long time ago, so school was a totally new experience to us first graders. To ease the transition, we had all day art classes for a few days, and I remember hunting red and yellow aspen leaves to press between sheets of waxed paper. It’s such a joyful memory because I thought that school was the coolest place ever and all about beauty and adventure and fun. The all-day art sessions ended quickly, and the days started blending together, but the memory of leaf hunting remains strong!

Since aspen leaves were swirling around in my head, I decided to draw them from memory.

Aspen Leaves Drawing 1

Aspen Leaves Step 1

I started drawing in the rectangle at the top, and found a pleasing grouping of leaves.  Then I redrew it more carefully in the rectangle below. The bigger “ghost” leaves around the bottom rectangle were sketched so that I could draw the leaf shapes more accurately.

Stems, stems, stems. What are all these stems about! This is supposed to be a drawing about big round leaves, not stems. But then the memory of how hard it was for the art teacher to flatten the stems for pressing returns to me. The stems created such drama in my six year old mind!

Aspen Leaves Drawing 2

Aspen Leaves Step 2

At the bottom of the page there are now Fabriconi numbers inspired by a show that was on tv as drew. The first sequence shows my poor math skills, please ignore. The second row is better. I see some 3’s and a few 5’s in my drawing, but that’s it, so I’m not on to some “mystic leaf code”. Darn.

Aspen Leaves Drawing 3

Aspen Leaves Step 3

At the bottom of the page, I’ve added words of things I can draw, as apposed to things I can’t. Here they are:

Piled, stacked stems, crossed stems, large stems, light leaf tone, leaf shape, texture, shapes positive and negative, patterns, lines, 3d, flat, domed, dipped.

I darkened the background and it makes the stems even more important.

Oh no! I think I like the white background behind the stems better!  Not something you like to hear yourself think, but it’s all about invention, intuition, and comparison, and these things criss-cross each other all the time.

Aspen Leaves Step 4

Aspen Leaves Step 4

I have made peace with the dark background, and I’m starting to prefer it, making me (once again) a drawing Jezebel who likes whoever she’s with the best.

I lightened the two side leaves significantly, and added dimension to the edge of the leaves with “ruffles” because they seemed too flat, and reminded me too much of lollipops.

At the bottom of the paper I’ve added the words “movement” and “3d,” because those are the things I see in the drawing now that the leaf edges undulate.

Aspen Leaves Drawing 5

Aspen Leaves Step 5

I’ve added veins at the bottoms of the leaves, because my first drawing was more accurate in that respect. The veins start at the very bottom of the leaf, where the stem joins, making that part of the leaf much more important.

Aspen Leaves Drawing 5

Aspen Leaves Step 6

I did some fine tuning on the size and placement of the stems,  and now I’m done. I think the leaves look as if they’re upside down, and that’s ok with me since leaves fall as they fall.

I like this drawing! (I wasn’t sure I would.) It’s heavily stylized, but memories are like that. And, I can smell sweet fallen aspen leaves when I look at it, and remember a few precious days when life was all about beauty, waxed paper, and fun.

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About Carol

I'm an artist, an accidental author, and lover of life. I grew up in Yorktown, Indiana, and I've been writing (and drawing) this website since 1999.
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