The Daily Leaf

Happy New Year!

This year I will turn over a new leaf (pun intended) with a year long project titled “The Daily Leaf”.  Each day in 2018, I will collect a leaf outdoors and create a sketch, painting or illustration of each leaf I collect throughout the year.


Hi, I’m Lee Angold.  I’m an artist focused on botanical and scientific subjects, and this is a personal project I’ve set for myself.

I welcome others to join me. Feel free to join the ride for a week, a month or even just a single leaf.  Tag your daily leaf paintings with #dailyleaf on Instagram and Twitter!


Starting today (January 1st, 2018) and every day in 2018, I will collect a leaf outdoors, and create an illustration/sketch of that leaf.  I will also record the location where each leaf was collected, and strive to identify the species of each leaf.

I will share my daily leaf illustrations on social media (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) using the hashtag #dailyleaf, as well as through periodic updates to this website. The size, scale, style and media used in my illustrations may vary, and I may arrange multiple daily leaves into larger illustrations containing multiple leaves.


My leaves may be collected from wherever I happen to go.  The only rule is I have to personally collect my daily leaf, outdoors, myself, each day. Unfortunately, these rules mean I cannot paint the cool leaves from the tree in your backyard, unless you invite me over to pick a leaf myself 😉

Realistically, I spend over 90% of my life within a 1km radius, mostly between my home and my studio, so you can expect that most of my leaves will be found in midtown Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada.  As some of you reading this from similarly arctic climates may already have clued in, this also means that my leaf selection for several months will be …interesting (for select values of interesting where interesting mostly means dry, brown, decayed, and found in a snowbank).  This is part of what makes this project so cool (Right?  I hope? Somebody reassure me please!)


Why a daily challenge?

grid200I am a strong believer in the  power of daily habits, both in art and in life generally.  I’ve been impressed with my progress during past daily challenges Inktober 2017 and September Watercolour Challenge 2016.

My daily art pieces are a reflection of my environment.  My daily pieces are also particularly affected by other factors such as my mood, time constraints or just new materials and techniques I am eager to try out.

Why leaves?

Leaves are a very popular and very feared subject for artists.  They are deceptively complex, and can be difficult to render right.  They are also plentiful and diverse, and in a variable climate like here in Kitchener-Waterloo, the appearance of leaves offers a unique way to track the weather and seasons.

By painting a leaf every day, as well as documenting it’s location and species, I expect by the end of the year to have created a unique yearlong “journal” snapshot.  This project will be a diary of the changing seasons and an insight into biodiversity focused in a small urban area.  It will also serve as a record of my own development as an artist over the course of the year.



How (The Rules!)

  1. Each day I will pick up a leaf.
  2. I will collect my leaves outdoors (no houseplants)
  3. I need to collect and photograph one leaf each day.  If I’m really sick or really grumpy I may fall behind on illustrations, but each day I need to collect and photograph a leaf.
  4. At the end of 2018, I will  have 365 illustrations.  Like in previous month-long challenges, I won’t beat myself up over falling behind, but I will catch up.
  5. My leaves may be collected directly from plants, or  from the ground.
  6. Leaves may be in any condition.  Chewed up partial leaves, leaf skeletons and soggy decomposed leaves are  leaves. However, compound leaves with multiple leaflets count as one leaf
  7. I will photograph each leaf and record the location where it was collected
  8. I will attempt to identify the species of each leaf.
  9.  I will illustrate each leaf on watercolour paper.  I am free to experiment with different painting/drawing media and illustration techniques throughout the year.
  10. Illustrations may be different sizes, and I may choose to create larger compositions with multiple leaves spanning several days.
  11. I will post my progress on social media with the hashtag #dailyleaf

What Else ?


I’m not sure yet what will come out of this project.  An exhibition?  A book?  An interactive map?  I am open to suggestions and opportunities – let me know in the comments below what you think, or hop on over to my Ko-Fi page to show your appreciation with some creativity fuel.

At the start of this new year and new project, I am committed to letting go of anxiety and logistics concerns, and  focusing on creation. I’m diving in, and committed to creating some great art and great habits every day in 2018.

Daily art challenge by Lee Angold- painting a leaf every day in 2018.
Daily Leaf 001 : Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) January 1st, 2018.

Oh… you didn’t think I would end this post without a leaf, did you?

Without further ado, here is my first #dailyleaf of 2018.

Daily Leaf 001 is a Norway Maple leaf picked up around the corner from my house.

Of course, I couldn’t just pick a simple flat leaf for day 1, I had to go for a huge crumpled up palmate leaf. This sketch is rendered in a little bit of everything – graphite, blue col-erase coloured pencil, watercolour, and ink – a reflection of how buzzy and excited I feel right now!


5 thoughts on “The Daily Leaf

  1. And today’s (1/2/18) leaf is where? What an amazing challenge!! I’m very much looking forward to viewing your progress.


      1. Ok, thanks. May I ask your advice? Is it better to take a drawing class that is part of a certification program (such as through the Denver Botanic Gardens) or take an online class at 1/2 the price (maybe I can take the next one in the series because of the lower cost). The online class is being taught by an instructor (Sarah Morrish BSc Hons CPGFS FLS ASBA). As you can see, she has her own set of credentials. I will not if I take her class instead of the one from the botanical art school. There is, however, no guarantee that I will be able to continue to the end of the course.


      2. I think that really depends what you are hoping to get from a class. Both degree/certificate programs and artist-led courses can be great.

        In general, certificate courses will give you more of an overview of the field, with different modules focusing on aspects such as botany, composition, dissections formal botanical illustration, etc, whereas artist-led courses tend to focus more on individually teaching/demonstrating specific painting techniques. Artist-led courses also tend to have more individual coaching/attention from the artist running the course, whereas in diploma programs you instead get constructive criticism from a range of different mentors and tutors, but less individual attention from any one artist.

        Of course, you can (and will) learn techniques in a diploma course and general concepts in an artist led course, it is just the primary focus that tends to be slightly different.

        A certification can be helpful, but botanical art is not a highly regulated field like law or engineering where you need specific credentials to find work. I would focus on developing your knowledge and skills through whichever course(s) you think will help you most based on your own learning style and goals.

        Liked by 1 person

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