For some time now I’ve had leaves on the brain. Don’t worry, my mind isn’t like the railway tracks in autumn, cluttered and obscured by “the wrong sort of leaves” – on the contrary, these were very much the right sort of leaves, inspiring all sorts of scribbles and sketches. Some I photographed to look at in detail later, others I looked up on the internet. Which ones to include? Oak, chestnut, a maple of some sort… Before I knew it I had made line drawings of seven types of leaf, with and without detailed veining. Then I looked at the collection and decided it needed a willow leaf. And an ivy leaf. And then there were nine, ready to be rearranged in various designs, scattered, overlapping, in a line along the hem of a tea towel, who knows?

The leaves, ready to be rearranged The leaves, with more veining

While these drawings were in progress, whenever I was out for a walk I’d try and look at trees close up as well as from a distance, and I couldn’t help noticing (which the more observant among you probably noticed long, long ago) that trees are not green. Or rather, not all trees are green. Some are yellow, or red, or brown, or orange, even in spring and early summer; and even the ones that are green are not all green in the same way. And what amazed me most, none of these colours clash – they all work beautifully together.

Now of course God has a much broader palette to work with than DMC or Anchor, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to recreate the effect with any accuracy. But then, as mine are quite stylised leaves, perhaps that won’t matter too much. Still, it’s as well to get the colours as close to nature as possible, so off I went with a selection of stranded cottons to bother my neighbours with the request to be allowed to colour-match their trees. Next-door-but-two’s Japanese maple is a DMC 902.

Colour-matching a variegated Norway maple Colour-matching a Japanese maple Japanese maple = DMC 902

And so, after extensive and gruelling research (a sunny afternoon on a rug in the garden with some leaves, the cat and my boxes of DMC) I’ve picked a selection of colours that should work with whatever combinations these individual leaves are going to end up in. Watch this space!

A range of leafy colours

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