I came upon this painting of fading leaves by Takeuchi Seihõ while searching for something else entirely. I love that it shows a natural state of leaves – one that is uncommonly depicted. Usually in classic flower or plant paintings with birds (kachõga), the subjects are in a peerless state of being – at the height of their bloom and beauty. This one depicts leaves whose peak of perfection has lapsed and they are withered and collapsed – a common enough phenomenon in autumn or early winter. To me, they are not any less beautiful.
In the same way, I am not in too great a hurry to tidy up dried seed heads or vines from the plants in the garden. They have their own quiet, intrinsic beauty, despite their loss of vigour. Often the colours of flowers deepen as they dry, and when dying leaves curl, I am charmed by the whimsical and contorted shapes they assume. And in the snow, these dried stems and vines, bereft of their leaves, take on an understated elegance, a spare and noble sculpture of their own.