Memory Journal Spread November Autumn Leaves in Watercolor

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Some of the most beautiful memory journal and planning pages I’ve created have been during autumn. It makes complete sense because there is such a variety of rich colors to choose from and, personally, I love leaves (and autumn!).

In November 2020 my mother-in-law passed away somewhat unexpectedly. As her family busied themselves with her funeral arrangements, I kind of felt disconnected from it all. One day while I sat staring out the window I noticed the colorful leaves gently falling from the trees. It was in that moment I felt inspired to create these journal pages in her memory.

Aside from my husband, the one thing my mother-in-law and myself connected on was gardening and plants. You might remember A Garden of Memories Brimming with Irises and Clematis post where I shared I have essentially a memorial garden of purple irises compliments of my mother-in-law. It was, I believe, that connection that caused me to take notice of the leaves falling on this day.

It seemed very fitting to create a nature theme journal spread to record my thoughts and/or memories of her. What I really loved about these journal pages is the vibrant colors; and even though I had no idea how I was going to set it up or how I wanted to use it, I just pulled out the paint, water and got to work.

Before I go through each step, I’ll list the watercolors used in this journal spread. Plus I’d like to add that I did no drawing on the pages before I started, this was all free hand. For your convenience, at the end of this post you will find a list of supplies I used to create this journal page.

Watercolors Used

  • Yellow Ochre #071
  • Burnt Umber #094
  • Permanent Yellow Deep #076
  • Permanent Orange #024
  • Cadium Red Hue #017

Remember to keep in mind when using watercolor paint, the more water you add, the more diluted the color will be. I don’t in any way declare myself a watercolor expert (yet!). But I have learned some tips and tricks along my journey in learning watercolor painting. That said, I only used 5 watercolors in this spread, I simply added more or less water to get the color level I was satisfied with. By using this technique you also add dimension to your artwork.

Step 1

As it is with most of my journal pages, I started this journal spread with a light wash of watercolor (#071) for a base. I simply worked my brush back and forth on each page.

Step 2

Next, I created the tree trunks and branches using brown color (#194), making sure to vary the heights of the tree trunks. Once that first coat dried, I applied a second, slightly darker, coat as an outline of the trunk and each branch.

Step 3

From there I used a deep golden yellow (#076) to create the first layer of leaves on the tree and on the ground. This layer of leaves was also to shape the look of the trees and mimic fallen leaves on the ground. To add dimension, I added in just a little more yellow to the watercolor mix in my pan and gave the leaves another layer of yellow.

To get the effect of “leaves” you simply use your brush and lightly dab your brush to the page in a “dotted” type fashion.

Step 4

Once the layers of yellow leaves were dry, I mixed a yellow-brown color (#071) with an orange watercolor (#024) and gave all the area of leaves another layer, varying where I dab my brush. By adding in another layer of color I’m also adding dimension to the overall look because leaves are not all the same color. You can absolutely add more color to your mix and add yet another layer is varying spots. That’s the beauty of watercolor!

The best part of this whole process is creating the leaves. By using the dabbing technique your leaves appear very natural and organic in shape and you are able to put color where you want it to be.

Step 5

This is the last layer of color for the leaves. To make sure I was adding the last layer of color to a completely dried page, I did use a heat gun tool. Next, I mixed the yellow (#071), orange (#024) and a red (#017) together and added in leaves of that mixture.

The final layer consisted of the same watercolors mixed together but this time I added in a little more red for a deeper dimension of the leaves.

It took quite a few layers of color, but, I was really pleased with how this spread turned out. It was my first time creating something like this and I couldn’t be happier with the result -and it was super easy!

Step 6

Once the trees and leaves were dry I decided to add two watercolor “vine” boxes (one on each page) using brown (#194). The box on the left page will hold my mother-in-laws name and birth/death dates; and the box on the right page holds a beautifully complementary quote.

“Anyone who thinks that fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on windy day.”

-Shira Tamir

Step 7

The final step was to hand letter the month “November” using my Tombow dual brush pen (#977). I also used a white gelly roll pen #8 to add some highlights to each letter.

Supplies Used

There is no definite plan on how I wanted to use these pages. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to journal on both pages or keep it short and sweet. Want to know what the end result looked like? Join the group below. I shared a final picture of my pages over there.

If you are inspired to create a memory journal spread don’t forget to share by tagging me on Instagram and using #btdinspired, I’d love to see your work (and I just might repost your photo)!

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