Big Basin Fungi

I’m still working with some of the photos I took when I visited Great Basin State Park.  The first thing I noticed when we got into the park, aside from the enormous trees, was the lush greenery. There was so much moss, I couldn’t tell which direction was north. I grew up in the east where the common wisdom was that moss only grew on the north side of a tree.  With all that moisture, there was bound to be some fungi lurking.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I photographed an amazing collection of fungi that was attached to a downed tree. Light falling on some of the attached pieces of fungus (I don’t know what to call them – they are not leaves or petals) shown through, giving a rosy translucent effect. The fungus in the shadows were devoid of color, but had concentric ringed patterns along their edges.

Here is my initial pencil drawing:

Watercolor Pen and Ink: Pencil Sketch Great Basin Fungi

Great Basin Fungi Sketch

I drew over the pencil lines with pen and ink and erased the underlying marks.

I started painting from light to dark – the conventional wisdom in watercolor painting – using Buff titanium, a Daniel Smith pigment. I then worked on the shady side of the log face with Van Dyke brown, leaving white space around the fungus edges. I was somewhat successful with this.

For my final flourish on the fungus, I used a combination of yellow and white gouache to accent the fungus edges.

The background was much less complex. I used a combination of Hooker’s green and cadmium red for the tree branches, Hooker’s green by itself for the leafy background and glazed with lemon yellow in the brighter sections of the background.

Here is the final watercolor sketch:

Watercolor Pen and Ink: Great Basin Fungi

Great Basin Fungi
9″x6″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

I am not terribly satisfied with this composition. I think there are several ways to approach this for a better outcome: 1) use bigger paper and take more time to sketch the patterns of the individual fungi as well as the overall pattern of organization of the fungus colony itself; 2) abstract the essence of the macro and micro patterns –  the lines formed by the colonies of fungus and the patterns of each fungus.

Perhaps this would help me obtain a mood in my painting similar to that exhibited in the photo below.

Photograph: Great Basin Fungi

Great Basin Fungi
Digital Photo


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