Mushroom Season

Weeks of hot, humid weather followed by a rainstorm or two means it’s time to watch for mushrooms. We had a terrific explosion of fungi in our yard in August two years ago, then none appeared last year; so I’ve been hoping this year would yield another bonanza. I am not disappointed. In the last few days, hundreds of mushrooms have pushed up from the soil under a small grove of oaks and walnuts. 

Among the benefits of keeping a nature journal is having a record over time of everything from mushrooms to bird nests to wildflowers. I had a moment of complacency about sketching these, thinking that I’d painted them all before. But as soon as I started and began looking closely, I kept finding more and different varieties. Then, when I looked back on my journal from two years ago, I was surprised to discover how little overlap there was. Even the most modest subjects lead to fascinating discoveries.

Tips and Techniques- I sketched these with a water soluble HB pencil with watercolor, using a 3/8″ (10mm) flat brush. The pencil lines soften and merge with the watercolor, but you can see them clearly where I didn’t touch them at all. My hope was that the flat brush would force me to work with less fuss, and I think it worked. I used a size 2 round for a few details in the soil and details on the caps.

 

30 thoughts on “Mushroom Season

  1. These are sssoooo attractive! I love the shadow contrast, and their velvety colors. One of your best!! It’s always a good day when I get one of your paintings!

  2. Oh! I love this! We’ve had quite a profusion of mushrooms this year as well. Every day I walk around our property to see what I might find and I sketch them. They’re fascinating! Odd and somewhat mysterious. Can’t wait to see what pops up next. I’m definitely going to try this technique.

    • Glad you are having a similar experience. I just came back from today’s roundup and there are new ones that weren’t there yesterday. I also cut some open and discovered differences among similar looking species. Fun!

  3. I don’t know what it is about mushrooms, but I sure am fascinated by them. That said, I was excited to see your painting but first went running outside to see if I had any too. YES!! I had been looking lately to no avail. That prompted me to start a little research into different kinds. I thought I might look in the forest this fall. I learned one should dig them not pick them. I took pictures first, but then thought I might try to draw one. Thanks for this lovely painting and for getting me out there to look.

    • Glad you were rewarded. There is so much to learn about them. I have a small knife for digging them up, so I can keep the bulb intact, and also for cutting them open, as this is sometimes key to identifying. Good luch with your sketch!

  4. Your watercolor sketches are delightfully true character of mushrooms. Mushrooms and trees sort of grow together. Do these mushrooms habitat near any trees? The variety of images makes for a great composition.

  5. Thank you for helping me to pursue my art during this time. I can get complacent if I am not careful. As always, I love your work and your inspiration. Thank you, Jean. Be well.

  6. Your mushrooms are as delicate and lovely as flowers, and as always thank you for the tips, encouragement and inspiration. I get worried sometimes about taking a group out to sketch a subject that we’ve done before, but you are so right in that there’s always something new and fascinating to see and draw. I love your idea of comparing discoveries from year to year!

    • Hi Denise- I did almost all of these using combinations of ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, and alizarin crimson. I love the variety of grays, purples, and browns you can get with those three. I also used burnt sienna and burnt umber, and Hansa yellow medium for the brighter yellow ones.

  7. Oh wow. It’s been so dry here that all of the earlier mushrooms have disappeared. Are any of yours edible?
    And what color pencil did you use? Is a gray, black, sepia? And thanks for the reminder to reach for a flat brush sometimes – that definitely does help me loosen up. As does wine, but usually not at the same time…..

    • Haven’t tried wine, Melissa, but it has possibilities. I used an HB watersoluble pencil, looks just like a regular pencil, though the lead is a little softer. It is a bit murky with lighter colors, but overall, I liked it.

  8. We just can’t assume anything, can we, even about our own back yards! The painting is very engaging -they’re dull of personality. I like the slightly-below-eye-level angle and the bits of grass and dirt on the stems. Wonderful.

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