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Intuitive Painting #2 - Autumn Leaves

This painting was a complete exercise in winging it! All I knew was that it was going to be an autumn scene with colorful leaves. That was it. I was open to everything else happening naturally, rather than trying to force something specific. My only focus through this entire painting was what was pleasing to me. And that's the question I asked myself at every decision-making point, "what would be pleasing to me?" When it came to the background, I just grabbed three of my favorite blue paints. I didn't stop to consider whether they complimented each other or whether one was darker/lighter/transparent/warm/cool/whatever. When it came to the leaves, I asked myself the same question, and, like the sky, I ended up just grabbing warm colors that made me smile.

Once I had all of my colors, I let intuition guide everything else. I didn't think, while painting the sky, about the composition of the branch. I didn't think, while painting the shape of the leaves, about how I would put the colors onto them or how I was going to highlight the branch. When it was time to start a new part of the painting, I took the first idea that popped into my head. That's really what painting by intuition is all about. It's not about standing back and thinking "hm... should I do more of a maple leaf or more of a birch leaf? What if my leaves don't look like any real leaf? Where is my light source?" Etc. When my brain said "now orange!" I grabbed the orange! When it said "lighter yellow highlights!" I didn't stop to wonder whether or not that was the right choice. I just did it!

Now, just because I like the way this painting turned out doesn't mean that I think it's perfect. Far from it! There are a couple of things that bug me. First, if I were doing this again, I would pay more attention to the connection points of some of the leaves. Particularly the ones coming off of the edge. See the two at the top? Their stems make it look like they're connected to the edge of the canvas. That's really bugging me. I'd either connect them about a 1/2-in to an inch below the edge of the canvas, or I'd suggest that they connect beyond the edge. Also, I might leave a couple of them darker. A lot of times, autumn leaves are brighter on one side than they are on the other.

Ready to get started on your own autumn leaves? Check out the materials list and video below. Amazon links are affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me continue to bring you free painting videos! Yay!

Materials list


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I often wonder Jane If I will ever learn composition, selecting the right colors and value. It can at times be a little over-whelming when it comes to painting or really any type of creative medium. Yet I look at your artwork and it makes me want to continue with the next path in my life to create a piece of art that I can be proud of. Plus you explain the art of creating so beautifully that it makes us want to explore and try again and again knowing that it will happen as long as the passion exists. Thank you Paulette

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