It has rained nearly every day for a week straight. This is not good if you like summer or swimming or outdoor dining or if you want to cut the lawn every now and then. It’s not good if you like painting outside or if you want your watercolor paints to dry inside without using a hairdryer. What all the rain and humidity is good for is mushrooms. They are fruiting like gangbusters in a myriad of colors, forms, and variety. I went out to sketch them during a blessed break in the rain and managed to get a first layer of paint on before another round of storms rolled in. Alas, there are more to discover, but since it is raining again I will have to be content with these.
Tips and Techniques– When you are sketching mushrooms, making field notes right on the page is a useful way to capture some of the information you will need for identification. Mushrooms are bafflingly difficult to identify to the species level, even with a decent field guide. Note the size and shape of the cap and stem, type of gills or pores, and the texture. Making a spore print and cutting the flesh to see what color is inside is also important. Or you can skip all that and simply enjoy the shapes and colors of these fascinating fungi.
Thank you Jean. I am delighted with your work and happy to have it to learn from. Eileen LaBarre
Sent from my iPad
So glad Eileen. Wishing you some exciting explorations!
I love your ‘shrooms’, Jean! Beautiful work, as always. I also love to sketch and paint them myself. I may have to here pretty soon as I see the forecast for my area of Ohio is calling for rain every day for the next 6 or 7…….ugh.
You’ll have to start looking for mushrooms to paint. We have a similar forecast and it’s hard to believe it. Where is summer?!
My thoughts exactly!
Always a pleasure to read and look!
Thanks so much! I’m glad to hear it.
Wow, I adore your illustrations an journaling! I wish it would rain where I live, but at 90% humidity, that sounds pretty steamy! Thanks for sharing your beautiful painting and drawing.
Thanks Jen! I’ll happily share the rain.
I’m not a fan of mushrooms, but this certainly inspires me to paint them! It was a great pleasure to have met you yesterday at the Stowe Center. A very inspiring and insightful session with you in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s garden. Loved what I came home with! Thanks for your encouragement.
Hi Denise- It was so nice to meet you too! Your sketch in the garden was lovely– I was impressed by what you accomplished in so little time. You will have to try painting mushrooms– they are really fun and a great subject for watercolor. I’m not a fan of eating them either, but I do find them fascinating.
Would you please tell me which colors you carry in your small palette? And which fill the larger full pans. Thanks! Your posts are always just the inspiration I need to hang in with watercolor and sketching. I’m not a natural drawer, but love the colors so much that I keep at it.
Hi Ann– The “big six”: Ultramarine blue, Sap green (DS), Alizarin crimson, Burnt sienna, Yellow ochre, and Quin gold. Plus: phthalo blue, Prussian blue, cobalt blue, Winsor violet, burnt umber, aureolin yellow, Hansa yellow med, lemon yellow, quin rose, quin magenta, pyrrol orange. I don’t use the magenta, orange, or violet very much (mostly for flowers). I stick with very transparent colors because I like to be able to layer them. Watercolor can be tricky business, but I guess that part of the fun, right?
There’s bunches here in our woods, too!! Did you know Beatrix Potter specialized in these in the years before she wrote and painted ‘Peter Rabbit’?
HI Roxanne- I did know that. She was a fantastic nature artist/illustrator. I love seeing her sketches of bees, mushrooms, and flowers. Inspiring stuff!
She is super inspiring!! as are you!!!! Even these ‘shrooms’ are incredibly lovely!
Jean / this was such a fun post! I could almost feel the rain and it sent me to interrupt what I was doing and open my mushroom guide. I love how you create nature art that is miraculous and simple at the same time.
Hi Karene– Thanks! I’m thrilled that it sent you to your mushroom guide. See if you can find anything in the russula species that looks like a match. What I mostly learned is that identifying mushrooms is beyond me. Mycologists need a Roger Tory Peterson to tackle the problem. Enjoy your garden!
Mushrooms are my favorite find – when I lived in western Massachusetts I seemed to always collect and identify and cook all my finds. And they are beautiful to sketch or paint – but you do need rain. Sorry for all your wet but envious too as we haven’t had rain since June. Maybe in the fall you could give a mushroom class!
Hi Patti- I’m not big on eating mushrooms, but I do love to sketch them. So many great colors and shapes. We just sketched mushrooms in my new class Drawn to Nature that started last week, so the timing for finding these has been perfect. A mushroom class would be fun…maybe we could do a one-off technique takeaway.
Beautiful! Mushrooms and moss are the most interesting. Thank you for this.
My pleasure. Glad you enjoyed it.
I so enjoy reading and learning from your postings and paintings. Today’s drawings and tips on mushroom painting, I found especially enjoyable. Both the helpful watercolor advice on colors and enhancing a page with information plus your lighthearted way of describing all that surrounds how you managed to capture the images make for a memorable lesson. I’m impressed with your joy in finding even the smallest of details in mushroom varieties to be so worthy of painting.
I appreciate the way you teach in such a delightful way. Your work is delicately beautiful. Thank you for the time you take to help so many of us learning as we go.
P.S. it’s raining, raining, raining here as well.
Thanks so much Bernadette. Your kind words bring me joy!
Beautiful illustrations. I love your style. We’ve had plenty of mushrooms popping up everywhere. Most of them very small varieties. They always intrigue me and with weather like we’ve had this summer, no shortage of subjects. I really like your cutaway views because I never think of doing that. Thanx for the advice.
You are welcome. It’s interesting to cut a mushroom in half. Sometimes they change color and you can see the gill structure better.
Gorgeous! Also, Viloetta Delafield’s mushrooms at: http://apps.hudsonvalley.org/american-arcadia/content/botanist-1.html
Thanks Christopher– I looked her up and her estate is not too far from me. I may need to make a field trip!
Another inspiring post and your sketches are beautiful! I’d like to learn more about mushrooms as we have some tiny ones popping up in our Maryland yard lately and I have no idea what they are. The photo of your desk makes me think of what Sherlock Holmes’ desk might look like if he was studying mushrooms:)
Thanks Jill. I do love when my desk (or, in this case, my dining room table) looks like this. I also love cleaning it off and having a fresh start. For learning more about mushrooms, get yourself a good field guide. This will start to unlock what you are looking at and things that are important for identification. Be forewarned, that it’s much more difficult than identifying birds or trees or other things you may be more familiar with. Good luck!
Great work, Jean. You have such a way with an economy of means – even your description of things to look for, followed by “or skip all that and simply enjoy…” is brilliantly concise. It’s fun seeing the live specimens next to their portraits in the studio photo. (Can you send us some rain?)
Wish I could send some rain your way!
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