Monday, October 31, 2011

Oaks and Maples

When I was a child we would collect fall leaves and press them between wax paper to preserve the colors.   We collected mostly Oak and Maple leaves because those were the trees that were planted along the road side and easy to pickup from the sidewalk while walking home from school.

At the Folk School we collected several types of Oak and Maple leaves: White Oak, Scarlet Oak, Sawtoothed Oak, Post Oak, Chestnut Oak, Red Maple, Silver Maple, and Striped Maple leaves.  We found several leaves that were still green or just beginning the transition.  The color change can be triggered by length of daylight or a temperature change.  We had a cold snap the night we arrived, and each day after that more an more leaves started turning colors.

White Oaks leaves turn pale yellow, and the large acorns drop from the trees leaving behind their caps.  The leaves have seven to ten rounded lobes with shallow to deep sinuses between.  Before turning, they are green to blue-green above and whitish below.  The oblong acorns have a warty cap that only covers 1/4 of the acorn.

Sawtoothed Oaks have a three to seven inch long leaf that is lanceolate shaped, with a bristle-tipped tooth at the end of each vein.  They were all still a dark shiny green.  The acorns are oval and the very scaly cap covers 1/2 the bicolored acorn.

Scarlet Oak's leaves turn from green to yellow-orange to a beautiful dark red.  The five lobed leaves have deep sinuses and bristle tips.  Before turning, they are green above and paler green below.  The tip of the acorns may have concentric rings.  The shiny scaled cap covers 1/2 of the acorn.

Post Oaks leaves turn a rustic orange brown.  The leaves are six to ten inces long with five rounded lobes.  The middle loves are distinctly square.  Before turning, the thick green leaves are paler and pubescent below.  The oval acorns have bowl-shaped scaly caps that cover 1/3 to 1/2 of the acorn.

Chestnut Oak leaves resemble a four to six inch long Chestnut tree leaf.  They are shiny green above and paler below.  The acorns are oval and as they mature separate from the thin warty cap.

Red Maple leaves turn a brillent red.  The leaves on the end of the branches turn first, and the color change spreds down the branch like a slow moving fire.  The leaves are palmate and have three to five lobes with serrated margins.  The trees are not named for their fall leaf color, but for the red color of the twigs, petioles and clusters of long samaras (another word of the day).

Silver Maples are more of a soft yellow-orange in color.  The leaves are palmate with coarse serrate margins.  There are five deeply sinused lobes.   The underside of the leaf is pale silvery white.  The long petioles allow even a light breeze to flash the leaves silver undersides.   

Striped Maples leaves turn a pale yellow.  The leaves have three lobes with serrated margins and long drip tips that cause the leaf to resemble a goose foot.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A tale of Apples and Crabapples

Our class spent an afternoon in a lovely apple orchard.  It was on the top of a small hill with beautiful views of the garden, fields and mountains that surround the Folk School.  We spread out among the trees, each picking a tree to sketch and a shady spot to work.  As we sketched we were serenaded by the penny whistle class, who were practicing in the nearby building.

The previous day I had sketched a branch with a few leaves and one small apple.  Today we would tackle a whole tree full of apples!

I picked a small tree that was isolated from its neighbors making it easier to determine shape, and eliminating the confusion of branches and shadows of other trees.  Sunlight reached through the tree's branches nicely lighting up one side of the trunk.  The sunlight also cast shadows on the ground below the tree and on some of the interior leaves helping to define the shape of the tree.

It wasn't until I was close to finishing the sketch and walked over to take a closer look at the apples that I realized this was a crab apple tree!  Oh well.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

A branch

Leaves are attached by their 'petiole' (word of the day during class) to the twigs, which are attached to branches, which are attached to the tree's trunk.  We were moving on to bigger things; multiple leaves, fruits and branches!

For this exercise I picked a branch that had a few leaves and a small apple.  The leaves were a bit dry and their color a bit faded, but the apple was spotted with reds, yellows and greens.  Making it wonderful subject to paint.

A leaf

The workshop had two parts.  One was to learn how to identify trees, which requires some basic knowledge of dendrology.  The other was to learn how to draw and paint trees and their parts (leaves, fruit, branches, bark, etc).  At the intersection of these two are the journals we would be starting.  I say starting, because we only had a week and it will take a lot longer then that to fill the journals.

We started by looking at leaves.  The part of a tree that collects sunlight and converts it to energy for the tree.  A part that we see a lot of.  A part that can be used to help identify the tree species.  We learned about the pattern of leaf arrangement, their shapes, margins and venation.  We also learned how to use leaf characteristics to identify trees.

Even though it was October, the daytime temperatures were still more like summer most days.  We did have two cold nights (31 and 34 degrees) that prompted the leaves to start turning color.  Some of the first leaves to turn were the Sassafras, and so one of these colorful leaves became my first journal entry.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I spent a week at the John C. Campbell Folk School attending a workshop on identifying and sketching trees in an illustrated journal, lead by Marilynn Brandenburger and Carol Parks.  It was a wonderful fall week and the workshop was amazing.  Carol led us on some great walks looking and learning about the trees, and Marilynn's demos really helped us make better journal pages.  I haven't had a chance to scan my journal entries in yet, but Marilynn has updated her blog with some beautiful examples.

While I was off identifying trees and sketching and painting them in my journal, my husband Steve was busy attending a glass bead making class lead by Bob Rubanowice.  This was Steve's second glass class, earlier this year he attended a glass fusing class lead by Beverly Fuller.  He made some really beautiful beads!