Leaf Story

As an artist and as far as I can remember I always fascinated about texture in art. And as I grow older I start to develop a feel for nature and concern about our planet earth. Painting leaves is a way for me to appreciate and a thanks to nature. Leaves may seem ordinary to us. We see them everyday and everywhere we go. They are there but no one take notice of them. And little do we know about them. Besides their textures and colors I love their story; their function to distribute food to the plants and trees, the release of oxygen to the atmosphere so we can continue to live on this planet earth. And many other benefits of leaves to human and medicine. I love their shapes and most of all I love their venations. Their intricate venations and their structure is what I try to paint. It is cumbersome to paint the small veinlets but I am learning and trying to understand their forms.

Finding the perfect leaf to paint is another fun task. I often find them from walking in botanical garden. I search and look carefully on the ground for the perfect leaf to paint. I particularly look for an interesting shape, colors and especially textures. The decaying part plays an important role in my art. Through leaves, I paint the beauty of aging. Symbolized of all living thing that one day must go through a process of aging. I know some people may not appreciate a decaying leaf, but I can almost picture the large-scale art of the leaf hanging in people’s wall home. I can see the art is connected to the owner and blend in with the room interior decor. I wanted it to be an art as well as a simple gesture of appreciation to nature.

The process is long. Once I decided which leaf to paint, then the drawing process starts. It is a long tedious work because I have to capture all the details.

I get very excited when the painting process begins. Before laying my first color, I mix and match all colors to the original leaf. Patience and ambition are the keys. There are no secret techniques to paint these leaves. Apart from knowing the “basic techniques on how to paint with watercolor and a lot of practices beforehand.” I just work very hard to capture the original look of the leaf. So yes, there are a lot of steps and preparations before you even begin to paint. Since these arts painted with extra careful - it takes 3 to 4 weeks to finish.

When travels I always try to find a time to go to a local botanical garden. It is my happy place - especially when I found the perfect leaf that only grow in that particular area.

Below, are the original leaves I painted out from.

Some of these leaves might lose it bright colors and starts to fade.

There are many ways to approach and paint these leaves. Light source plays an important role as to how the leaf will look. The light coming from different directions has different effects and looks to them. The “green leaf” and “brown skeletal leaf” I painted with light illuminated directly from behind them. Being illuminated, I can see and painted the smallest veinlets and it’s finest details. Those leaves will look different if the leaves just lay flat on the table with an ambient light illuminate them. It is a different way to capture the detail and style of the leaf. A lot of the leaves below I painted with ambient light as well.

While most of them painted on the front side, the “brown dried curled leaf” is a leaf painted on one side then painted on the other side positioned next to each other. Hence, almost a mirror image composition.

Occasionally I’d like to play with composition and create a profile leaf. I would take a small part of the leaf and blow it up to a large size and just paint that portion.

On another occasion I painted the leaf on it back side. Why? It is because, after observing the real leaf, sometimes I feel the backside and the details are interesting to paint than the front side.

These are the highlight on how I created these arts. Although it takes a long time to create, I always have a sense of an immense pleasure from the process of creating each leaf from the start to the end.