Yes, the foliage at this time of year is beautiful. Jeremy Sams shows that there is more than one way to depict it.

Lead Image: “Gettin’ Your Feet Wet,” by Jeremy Sams, 2015, oil, 11 x 14 in.

Sams went out walking the other day, looking for good color in the trees. He didn’t find it. “I’m in the city limits, but there’s a woods and a little creek behind my house, and that is my spot,” he says. “But the leaves on the trees were not changing the way I had hoped. It looked like a typical summer day. So I was looking for a different angle as I walked along the creek. I happened to look down and thought, ‘That’s kind of a neat little arrangement.’ I had never painted leaves that close before. And the water offered something different. It was a nice little challenge for me. You get the same effect as looking up at the trees because the sky is blue in the water. It’s just a different plane.”

Sams’ setup for painting “Gettin’ Your Feet Wet”
Sams’ setup for painting “Gettin’ Your Feet Wet”

It was a change of pace for Sams, and he felt like it stretched him a bit. “The hardest thing was overcoming preconceptions,” says the North Carolina artist. “We have this conception throughout life of what water is supposed to look like. I am used to doing scenes with a vanishing point at the creek, the classic winding stream. This was totally out of my element. There was so much information — rocks, leaves on the water, leaves in the water. Brush around the creek. And I had all the preconceptions that you come to a scene with. It was an exercise on, how do I apply fundamentals to this complex scene? I went back to the basics. What’s my design, and my composition? What are the big shapes, the big color masses? Is it lighter, darker, warmer, cooler?”

Sams seems to feel good about his results, and he says he plans to do more like this. “I don’t want it to become cliché, but I will take my time with it and be on the lookout for scenes like that,” he says. “Now I will have an eye looking down at the water, rather than across.”


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