"That time of year thou may'st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold."
- Sonnet 73 by William Shakespeare
Oak trees are well known for producing acorns and displaying vivid colors in the fall of the year. Valley, chestnut, and chinkapin oaks turn yellow in fall, while pin, scarlet, and red oaks display a brilliant red. The leaves of the English oak often assume a copper color, while others become brown.
Why do leaves change color in fall? All leaves contain pigments called carotenoids, which produce yellow orange colors, and anthocyanins, producing red and purple shades. During the spring and summer, leaves are actively feeding the tree, using light from the sun. This is done by special chemicals called chlorophyll, which is green in color. As the weather cools and trees prepare for a long winter sleep, chlorophyll levels drop, unmasking the beautiful shades of the other pigments. Brown leaves occur when no other pigments are present.
In Japan, viewing autumn leaves has become a national pastime. This activity is called koyo in Japanese. In Canada and the United States, this tradition is often called "leaf peeping." Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular autumn leaf viewing locations on the North American continent. In the United States and Canada, animals such as squirrels, bear, woodpeckers, or cardinals might be observed on such ventures.
Would you like to draw the colorful leaves an an autumn oak? Doing so is easy and fun with the help of this simple, step-by-step leaf drawing tutorial. All you will need is a pencil and a sheet of paper. Likely, you will also want use crayons, colored pencils, markers, paints, or other tools to shade your brightly colored leaves. In each step, you will find detailed how-to illustrations, as well as explanatory text.
1. Begin by drawing a long, curved line. This will become the stem and the central vein of the middle leaf.
2. Draw two long, curved lines extending from the sides of the first. These lines form the stem and veins of the additional leaves.
3. Begin to outline a leaf using a series of curved lines. Notice that the lines are of greatly varied lengths, and that they meet in sharp, jagged points. The longer lines allow you to form the lobes, or sections, of the leaf.
4. Continue to outline the leaf using jaggedly connected curved lines. Note the point at the tip of the leaf. Fully enclose the outline of the leaf.
5. Begin to outline the second leaf. This time, begin your series of curved lines at the side of the first leaf. This will make it appear that one leaf is behind the other.
6. Continue to outline your leaf, fully enclosing the shape. Notice again that the longer curved lines are used to form the lobes of the leaf.
7. Outline the third leaf. Again, attach the lines to the leaf beside it, so that it appears to pass behind the previous leaf.
8. Continue to outline the final leaf until the irregular, spiky shape is fully enclosed.
9. Detail your leaves by drawing veins in each. Do so by extending short, curved lines outward from the leaf's central vein.
10. Color your fall leaves. In nature, oak leaves display a variety of colors, including green, brown, copper, yellow, and red.
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