We don’t have much in the way of deciduous trees here in the Rockies and our autumn color can be decidedly monochromatic. (Read: Lots and lots of yellow.) I’ve done several linocuts of our iconic aspen trees and leaves, but none quite like this one.
There ARE certain stands of aspen that turn not yellow, but orange, and sometimes even brilliant red in the autumn. I’ve never heard an adequate explanation for these renegades, but coming upon them is like finding a glowing treasure. (I swear one might even hear music.) Yes, there appears to be a pigment (anthocyanin, if you want to know) present in red and orange trees that isn’t present in yellow ones… BUT… just because a tree turns red one year doesn’t mean it will do so the following year.
This past September a large, rich stand of red and orange aspen flanked the Marshall Pass road, one of my favorite autumn haunts. I lined my pockets with leaves of red and orange and salmon and pink and gold… some of which are still on my window sill, although quite brown and crunchy by now.
Of course all that lovely color variety just begs to be made into a linocut. It took me more tries than expected to get to this salmon-pink color, which will only remain in a few leaves when the next color goes on.
Next, a transparent gray. Again, not much of the resulting dull red will remain in the finished print. The next color…. (more of that dramatic music now) will be a yellow ochre. Slightly risky, given all the red underneath it, but the ochre pigment is naturally a bit opaque, and I’m aiming for a color that will say “leaf past its prime,” so I’m hoping it doesn’t give me too much trouble.
Depending on what the roads look like this afternoon I may still try to make my run out of the mountains, so it will be a couple of days before much new happens. Plenty of time to screw up my courage and move on to the next step.