Sycamore Leaf

sycamore leafThe fog lifts only briefly at midday. Although the hills of the Peak District rise above it, just as forecast, we decide not to drive for 25 minutes through such poor visibility in order to enjoy a walk there.

sycamore leafLooking for something suitable to draw in a drift of autumn leaves on a lawn in foggy Ossett I realise that they are all sycamore leaves; three sycamore trees stand alongside the little track beside the garden.

Rather than stand outdoors drawing the soggy pile, I choose one dry leaf that has been caught in the branches of a Russian vine and settle down to draw it in comfort indoors.

sycamore leafWe didn’t get out to walk over a landscape of ridges and channels but I can explore a landscape in miniature by closely observing the undulating surface and the network of veins of the leaf.

sycamore leafI remember when I was at the Grammar School here in Ossett and we had a few art lessons from a student teacher who got us to draw a close-up of a leaf – just a small section, about the size of a postage stamp, not the outline. She then got us to take it a stage further and work up a design from it. I stuck pretty much to what I could see, just adding colour, which at school was powder paints, mixed in a plastic palette.

sycamore leafI remember getting totally absorbed by the repetitive but varied detail. Drawing it must have been a semi-hypnotic process, like getting lost in a landscape of rolling hills and rivers.

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