Nature is a good place to look for inspiration for a creative project. Even just being outside can be enough in itself to make you feel inspired, whether you are actually looking for ideas or not!
This is especially true in the autumn, when it’s so easy to find inspiration in autumn colours.
The thing with inspiration is that there is a difference between feeling inspired and having an idea. It’s possible to feel inspired but not to have any ideas at all!
You could go outside on a beautiful autumn day and see all the colours around you, and the contrast between the leaves and the sky. You might enjoy the crisp air, the crunchy leaves, and the warmth and softness of your gloves, then go home and want to make something, but have no idea what!
Or you might arrive home with an idea, only to find that it doesn’t work. The colours aren’t right, or the designs look wrong, or you haven’t quite managed to capture the contrasts in the way you were hoping to.
So here’s a little trick I’ve found that’s really useful if you want to make something inspired by the colours of autumn.
I wish I could claim credit for this idea, but unfortunately I can’t! I found it in a book called Stitch, Fabric and Thread by Elizabeth Healy, which I got out of the library.
You will Need
A camera (your phone will do)
Somewhere that makes you feel autumnal. It could be a wood, some quiet country lanes, a park, even a bit of a city.
Photo editing software that enables you to turn a photo into larger pixels. I used onlineimagetools. It’s free, and you can adjust the size of the pixels from quite small to really big. Just make sure you download the image on the right, or you’ll download the original photo and it won’t be pixelated (guess how I know!).
You could use Photoshop if you know how to. The tool to use is the mosaic one. GIMP and Photopea are very similar to Photoshop.
What to Do
Go out and take some photos. Choose things that have autumn colours in them. You could try trees, conkers in the grass or a pumpkin patch.
As I have found, trying to pick colours from a photo can be harder than it seems!
This is where using photo editing software comes in.
You might choose to use just one section of the picture, or you could use it all. When you’ve decided, pixelate all of it or just a bit.
Doing this makes it much easier to pick out the individual colours, and choose colours that will work well together.
Here are some photographs I have edited in this way, with the colours I have chosen from them.
If you like these pictures, I have a PDF of 10 photos that includes these three, with the pixelated versions, and you can use them to find inspiration in autumn colours. Some of them are photos I took while were in the Pacific Northwest 2 years ago. The others I took closer to home. It’s easy to tell which is which!
The PDF is free for you to download, in exchange for an email address. The form is at the bottom of the post.
How We Used Our Pixelated Photos
Elizabeth Healy, the lady who wrote the book, used a photo of a flower to make a piece of embroidery. She took the colours from the photo to embroider little squares, alternating horizontal and vertical stitches.
I used this technique a couple of weeks ago with Cosmo in the School of Mummy.
This is a whole other post, but the approach we take to home education is that it is largely child led. We go with Cosmo’s interests and what is developmentally appropriate for him. A couple of the things that Cosmo has requested are monthly nature walks and fortnightly art and craft lessons that I plan for him.
I decided that it would be a good idea on this particular occasion to combine the two!
We live in a rural area, and although Norfolk isn’t known for its forests, there is a small wood within walking distance of our house.
So we walked up there and took lots of pictures, both in the wood and on the way there and back. While we were out, we found inspiration in autumn colours.
For his picture, Cosmo chose a photo of some ragwort growing by the side of the road. It’s a bit fuzzy because he took the picture himself.
He pixelated the picture on the phone he uses for playing Pokemon Go. Being a child he’d figured it out before I had!
Then I gave him free choice as to what he wanted to do with his picture. I’d put out paint, coloured pencils and the felting stuff. Cosmo chose one particular part of the pixelated photo, picked some colours from the bag of rovings and used wet felting to make an abstract picture. This is what he made.
I love what he made! There is so much joy in it, and it shows that he understands that art isn’t always about making something that looks exactly like something else. It can be an impression, or a layer of something, or a particular thing that the artist wants to draw attention to.
I chose a photo of a rowan tree. I love rowan trees! They make me think of the poem by Robert Burns and Quickbeam the Ent from Lord of the Rings, who, whenever he saw a rowan tree, would lift up his arms and sing.
I got as far as choosing some embroidery thread. It will become something one day!
Ideas for Using Your Autumn Colour Palette
When you’ve found inspiration in autumn colours, here are some ideas for things you could make.
Choose some yarn and make a blanket. There’s a granny square pattern here, or you could use these instructions from Attic 24 to make a ripple blanket.
Do some hand lettering. If you’ve not tried this before, this website is a good place to start. For a quote, you might like, “I’m so happy to live in a world where there are Octobers” from Anne of Green Gables. Another one of my favourites is this little poem by Emily Bronte. Decorate it with pens or pencils in the colours you’ve chosen.
Make some patchwork. If a quilt is too much, you could make a cushion, a bag or a scarf.
Make applique and turn it into a cushion, a bag or a hot water bottle cover.
Choose the colours to make a skirt. I have an idea to use my A line skirt pattern to make a skirt in grey or brown, then add godets in red, orange and mustard yellow. There are probably lots of things you could do here if you are feeling creative! You could take an existing pattern that you like and see what you could do with it!
Make some embroidery or some felt. You could turn it into a notebook cover, or pop it in a frame and hang it up somewhere.
Happy autumn making!
If you would like the PDF of autumn pictures with pixelated versions too, please enter your email address. Please note that by doing this, you will be added to the Tea and a Sewing Machine newsletter. You can unsubscribe any time and your information won’t be shared.