Falling Leaves, by Olga Wisinger-Florian, circa 1899, depicts a woman and her dog enjoying a quiet walk in the serenity of an autumn day. Using light and shadow, the artist employs an impressionistic style to convey the forest. Nothing is drawn with precision, yet everything is shown in its entirety. The feeling of this pieces is a little dreamlike–she carries an umbrella, so she’s prepared for rain. She is dressed all in black except for her yellow hat. Leaves in all the many shades of green, gold, and red cling to their trees; the damp, aging rails of the wooden fence offers a flimsy barrier to the carriages and motor vehicles that may travel the roadside. Leaves cover the dirt road, and more are falling down, and the dog trots happily along beside her mistress—the story is there for us to see.
About the Artist:
According to Wikipedia, Olga Wisinger-Florian’s early paintings can be assigned to what is known as Austrian Mood Impressionism. In her landscape paintings she adopted Schindler’s sublime approach to nature. The motifs she employed, such as views of tree-lined avenues, gardens and fields, were strongly reminiscent of her teacher’s work. After breaking with Schindler in 1884, however, the artist went her own way. Her conception of landscapes became more realistic. Her late work is notable for a lurid palette, with discernible overtones of Expressionism. With landscape and flower pictures that were already Expressionist in palette by the 1890s, she was years ahead of her time.
Credits and Attributions:
Falling Leaves, by Olga Wisinger-Florian, ca 1899 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I love the changing of the seasons. In the native northwest forests, the colors of the big-leaf maples, and alders paint the landscape in shades of yellow and gold, dotted with pops of red sumac and scarlet vine-maples. The gold of the larches in the high-country is startling to those who’ve never seen a deciduous conifer. I am awed by the majesty of the autumn forest.
The sky is also changing. The days grow shorter and the rains of the monsoon months approach.
The gray overcast tends to linger unending, eternal. I wonder if the sun will ever shine again. And just as I am feeling desperately sorry for myself the clouds part to reveal a patch of blue so beautiful my eyes hurt, and I must wear my sunglasses to shield my weak, northwesterner’s eyes.
Irene, who is from Texas, mocks me for needing protection from the rare occurrences of sun–but we who have grown up in the long dark winters have little tolerance for it; thus the cheap sunglasses become so much more than a fashion statement.
These are the writing months, the mad dash to finish that first draft, and the build up to NaNoWriMo. These are the days when inspiration knocks me in the head and takes me far, far away. These are the days when I dive into reading for pleasure and forget to cook dinner.
Autumn glory lingers for a brief few weeks, then the rain moves in and turns unraked leaves to soggy, moldy messes waiting for the winds of November to set them free–free to fly from yard to yard as my mind soars in other realms.
But evening and morning still bring colors as the sun turns the clouds every shade of angry that is possible–gold, red, purple and even black–occasionally juxtaposed against that poignant shade of blue that makes my heart ache, and my eyes sting with tears unshed.