The colour of fall

This is the week to paint trees in Montreal. They truly are at their autumn peak. When the sun hits the yellow and orange leaves they glow, but if you try to paint them that way, or at least if I do, they look garish. So today I took the intensity down a notch and simply suggested the colours of fall. A little red here and there, some muted oranges, greens that are a little softer than in midsummer, using mostly Quin Gold, Phthalo Blue and Permanent Alizarin Crimson. Dark trunks are painted with Phthalo Green and Alizarin Crimson, a combo that gives you one of the richest blacks you can make in watercolour. Painted on my lunch hour from a window at school, in a Handbook Watercolour Journal, 8″ x 8″.


19 Comments on “The colour of fall”

  1. loisajay says:

    Can I ask what brand of watercolors you use? This is so muted and so pretty. Thank you!


    • Hi Lois,
      I use a variety of brands: Winsor Newton, Daniel Smith and M. Graham, mostly. Quinacridone Gold is from Daniel Smith, Permanent Alizarin Crimson is from M. Graham, and Phthalo Blue is probably also Daniel Smith. I didn’t use Cerulean Blue or Burnt Sienna in this sketch but those are always from Winsor Newton.

      Liked by 1 person

      • loisajay says:

        Shari–thank you so much. I am slowly (very slowly) working my way back to watercolor so am very interested in the paints used. Your work is so very pretty.


  2. Alison says:

    Hmmm… I was just thinking today “what colours would I use to paint these vibrant fall colours? Might look fake to try and capture the orange/yellow glow.” So thanks for this answer. And the lovely sketch. And the rich black tip. As always, just love your compositions.


    • I’m glad I was here to answer your questions for you. Of course you can always call if you need personalized responses, you know. There’s a new hotline just for technical support about colour.


  3. TonyU says:

    I could almost set my calendar by your first ‘autumn trees’ post – just like (perish the thought) the first ‘wheelbarrow in the snow’. Beautiful as always.


    • It’s funny that you mention snow Tony. Tonight on my way home for work I heard the weatherman mention a possibility of flurries for Saturday. Can’t believe it. Seems way too early to paint the wheelbarrow in snow! I’ve hardly even painted the autumn colours yet.


  4. Monique says:

    I have to try more this know what I mean:) I tend to try and paint leaves..futile and ugly and too much.
    I love yours.


    • Just paint big shapes Monique. Forget all the leaves. It must be pretty gorgeous in your area this week too.


      • Monique says:

        It’s the prettiest it’s ever been I think..maybe that’s my age talking:)I did try copying ths yesterday= hahaha.
        But I will try again..we went out yesterday and I was analyzing where the branches are visible and not..instead of just looking at our own..


  5. Yesterday I failed to paint the bright autumn leaves in sunshine. Today there is no sun and after reading your post I think I’ll try again, thank you! :-]]


  6. Connie Renaud says:

    I love your composition and thank you so much for the description of the colours you use. It is most helpful. Thanks again.


  7. SusanA says:

    What a refreshing sketch–feels like fall to me! We’ve had such a hot, dry fall that our trees here in SW Ohio haven’t begun to change yet. Thank you for your insight in taking the intensity down a notch. That was really helpful.


  8. joantav says:

    I love the light shining through the canopy of the trees. Lovely!!!


  9. Grace says:

    Hi Shari,
    This is so beautiful, can you please tell me what color or mix of orange did you use and the brand?
    Thank you so much.


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