Sketches in the Autumn Air

The mornings are misty, the leaves are falling and an air of melancholy pervades everything. Autumn is here again. It’s my favourite time of year. Quite why I love it so, I can’t say, but I like the crisp mornings, the starry nights and especially, the colours.

A street near my house (October 2016)

I like to get around by bike, which means I often find myself trundling along little streets with overgrown gardens where the branches of trees hang out over their enclosing walls, or long grass is poking through the fences. I see orange persimmons, dark-green summer oranges that ripen throughout the winter, seed heads and I can watch the leaves turn day by day. There is nothing more refreshing than a bicycle ride through a sleepy city on an autumn morning.

I especially enjoy expressing these scenes through coloured pencil. I like the way in which the colour can be built up gradually, or scribbled on boldly, bringing liveliness and greater depth to even quick sketches. I feel this suits the soft atmosphere and rich colours of autumn. I enjoy watercolour, but for the sketches I do quickly out and about in the streets near my house, I like the convenience of coloured pencil.

The natural shapes we see in autumn are so interesting. Spider webs are hung with dew and we can see how intricate they really are. I picked up some sweet chestnuts from under a tree on the side of the road last week, and I was fascinated by how pointy and prickly their casings were. The cases were a vivid, acidic green, but the nuts bursting out from inside were shiny and very dark brown. The shapes of seedpods which have shed their seeds are also fascinating, like something from another world. If you prefer bright light and vivid colour, then autumn art might not be for you, but I think there is so much for an artist to enjoy in autumn; the soft colours, the interesting shapes and the changing scenery are only a start.

Hashimoto River, Hagi (October 2016)

Neither too hot nor too cold, autumn is a lovely time to get out and do some sketches or photography. A note about shyness: I am not a naturally confident person, and I used to be petrified that someone would take an interest in me and my sketchbook, but times have changed. I enjoy drawing outside, and people that say hello are often genuinely interested. I have only had compliments and nice conversations. It is something I enjoy and I think it would be a waste to let shyness get in the way of that. To quote the ever-fabulous John Oliver, ‘You do you!’ Get out and really look at the world around you. Draw, photograph, film and paint, or simply take the time to really look. Observational drawing in the fresh air is a wonderful way to mix up the studio/ desk/ corner of the kitchen work surface illustration routine. There is so much beauty all around us. Let’s get out and see it!