Two batches of the next size leaf were painted, one batch was hot-glued into place. The tree is looking more alive in startling ways in person (the photo above is yukky flash and kills the good look of both wood and leaf). While I'm applying the leaves it looks like real wood as I look for where a leaf cluster might emerge.
Getting a bit better at painting the leaves and by better I mean a faster system. It looks as though I will only need another 3-4 batches of this size leaf to finish the whole tree. I won't likely need more than a few accenting stems of the larger sizes. I bought many life-sized silk faux stalks of this leaf specimen and find the smallest sizes to be a very good scale for the Halfland tree. This leaves me with leaves, two buckets full. The leaf painting quality is crude compared to the kind of detail I prefer for the project, however, as long as the leaves have a certain life-like dimension of color and shape it will suffice. If I insisted on making each leaf a work of art, then, as Nick H said, I'd need to have a daughter for her to complete the film one day.
I mix warm browns, wines, and rusts, as I paint each batch of backs, blending multiple shades of color, no two leaves alike. Contrasting colors are dry brushed on the raised plastic veining. I love how the beet red veins look on the terra cotta leaves. Green tops get the same treatment before they are highlighted with yellow/lime and olive green vein painting.
After that, it's a matter of squeezing two small droplets of hot-glue onto the natural knobs and knurls of the branches, waiting until they thicken a moment while I select the stemmed leaf clusters for each spot. I press the stems in and hold them in place at the right angles with my fingers (yes, this burns a little, suffering for my art.) until they set up and cool.
Later, all the joining places will be secured and covered with matching tinted cement to complete wooden illusion of the branch.