Saturday, June 6, 2015


"Coleus II"  8" x 25",  Lori LaBerge  2015

"Coleus II" was completed this week and is ready for framing.  This work was done from a plein air sketch using exaggerated color.  The dark value of the background makes the leaves pop out more than they did in reality. 

I started thinking about tapestries while I was working on this piece.  Leaves have always fascinated me and while my eyes are first drawn to the main subject of a tapestry, they soon start studying any leaves in the work.

While in Scotland a couple years back, I took photos of the Unicorn Tapestries that were being recreated at Stirling Castle.  Here are some close-ups of leaves in the works.

Lower right --"The Unicorn at the Fountain"

There is quite a bit of light green as if sunlight was shining down on the leaves.  They have a small, slightly elongated shape to them allowing soft resting places, almost nests, for the oranges to grow.

Upper section --"The Start of the Hunt"

These leaves are in sharp contrast to the first set.  They are narrower and sharper in appearance, slightly reminiscent of poinsettia leaves.  The bright leaves in front stand out and contrast with the darker leaves in the background.

 Top center -- "The Captive Unicorn"

The leaves above resemble umbrellas shading the areas below.  They spread out with each leaf of each section partitioned out with slight overlap in places.  Again, we see the contrast in values around them, forcing them to stand out in front and creep into the background as they recede.

 Upper center -- "The Unicorn at Bay"

Some of the leaves above stand out while others blur into nothingness as they recede into the center of the tree.  They are broader at the base and the lighter value leaves in the forefront lead into middle and darker values.

 Lower section -- "The Unicorn at Bay"

The leaves on the left have lots of curves running in and out among them.  If you drew them your pencil would be moving up and down creating wavy lines and the leaves would extend horizontally.  The leaves on the right are opposite, reminiscent of a fan.  They are more vertical, substantially longer than they are wide and spreading out slighting at the ends.

  Far lower left --"The Unicorn is Brought to the Castle"

These leaves are more rounded with the base narrower than the upper portion.  Thick in growth, the squirrel has found a safe place to hide among them. 

I found this book at an antiquarian book fair years ago.  It has great photos in both color and black and white.  The color photos are bright, clear and show lots of depth.  There is an extensive history of works from Gothic to Contemporary (keep in mind the book was written in 1965), studying the past to see how tapestry evolved.

It contains vocabulary of tapestry terminology, information on looms, creating texture, dyeing, and cartoon drawings.  The book was written in 1965 and is over-sized.   My favorites sections were the contemporary works which were divided according to country and the one page section on the signatures used by tapestry workshops in the 15th -18th centuries.   

Enjoy the little things that are often overlooked, record them with camera or sketchpad and have a great day.

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