Intimate Autumn is an explosion of warm colour and pattern, revealing the freedom of paint handling that Isabel McLaughlin explored later in her career. It is also emblematic of her drive and willingness to experiment, qualities she demonstrated throughout her life. McLaughlin enrolled at the Ontario College of Art in 1925. When instructor Arthur Lismer resigned two years later, she left with other OCA students to initiate the Art Students’ League, in buildings rented from the Art Gallery of Toronto (today the AGO). Though short-lived, the League was a dynamic, non-academic cooperative, where invited established artists, like Lismer and Yvonne McKague Housser, gave talks and criticisms. In 1929, McLaughlin left for Paris to study at Scandinavian Academy. Later she also studied under Emile Bisttram in New Mexico and Hans Hoffman in Provincetown. In her early work, McLaughlin was influenced by the Group of Seven, who invited her to contribute to their 1931 exhibition. When the Group folded into the Canadian Group of Painters, she became a founding member in 1933, and then first woman president in 1939. McLaughlin was also an active in the Heliconian Club established for women professionals to counter the then-men-only Arts and Letters Club. By the time she painted Intimate Autumn in 1962, McLaughlin’s own artistic voice was well established. In it she combines her long-held interest in botany and drawing, transforming nature into rhythmic linear design.