What is it about autumn that is so appealing? So surprising? The glory of green leaves turning golden, amber, ochre, and crimson never grows old. Creation bursts with beauty, first on the trees, then decorating the earth wherever they land.
Since taking up watercolor painting a few years ago, I find myself delighting in color more than ever. And the splendor of fall provides plenty of it. Mentally searching through recently learned paint names and the combinations that will achieve the desired result has become almost automatic. Sometimes I have to tell my brain to relax and enjoy the beauty! Sap green, raw and burnt umber, Alizarin crimson, French vermillion, yellow and gold ochre, and my personal favorite (since days of Crayola crayon boxes!): burnt sienna– all are possibilities for capturing the blaze of autumn colors.
Re-creating with the master Creator allows for an in-depth experience of nature that I didn’t expect. After trying–successfully or not–to express what I see on paper, I feel connected to it that I’d never before experienced. Later, I’ll whisper to that tree I’ve painted, “Hi, I know you! Oh, there’s that knot in your trunk that was hard to capture…”
We are blessed with a lot of sunshine here in the south of France throughout fall and winter. The autumnal colors glow against the bright blue skies, sunlight highlighting their hues. But even the cloudy, gray days provide a moody backdrop, the leaves made more lovely by contrast.
As the heat of summer fades, replaced by cool crisp air, and the cozy smoky scent of fires warming homes, the breezes, the rains…we thrive on the change of seasons. When I lived in Hawaii, that was one of the things I missed the most. Craft stores did a great business there, selling fabric autumn leaves and garlands, pumpkin scented candles, and anything else that would help us recreate the season. One year for Thanksgiving, I was happy to find tropical leaves that somewhat replicated fall colors. Our table had a lovely island and traditional feel to it.
I believe we need a certain amount of change. Too much sameness can feel monotonous, boring, out senses grow dull. On the other hand, too much change can feel unsettling, unstable. I think that’s why the variety of seasons are satisfying: they are somewhat predictable and yet new each time. As they say in Thailand: “same same, but different.”
Each fall, I notice different aspects, different shades. This year deep reds and pale oranges stand out to me and the lovely contrasts of color against gravel or stone walls. Twigs and textures also. Does that have to do with my mood, the effect of the weather, or something else?
More and more, I am impressed with the need to look for what is good in the smallest and most surprising places. To be grateful for what is lovely around me, and there is always something if I only take the time to notice. Receiving each glimpse of beauty in creation is a gift, one that always lifts my spirit.
“So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.”
Philippians 4, verse 8 (TPT)
In this tumultuous time across the entire world, we need to follow the above exhortation more than ever. Seeking truth, whatever is lovely, and offering gratitude for these gifts of grace are game-changers. We reflect that which we focus on, and in turn, change the atmosphere around us.
There are always obstacles, difficulties, challenges, problems, and more in life. I tend to think, “if I just get this issue solved, I’ll feel better” or “once the ________ is over, I’ll feel settled.” The more significant, more beautiful reality is the grace we have available to us, no matter the circumstances. Jesus said he came to give us abundant LIFE and that we can always find peace in him despite the troubles in the world.
Oui, la vie est belle...