Am I Like Fungi?

That colony of fungi I photographed, sketched and watercolored was an interesting study. I took another photo of a detail of that community. I was attracted by the contrast of light and dark. The bright fungus “leaves” stood out against the dark shadows. Each “leaf” had dark stripes that mimicked the contour of its outside shape. However they were not the only designs present. there were lumps and bumps of different shapes (and I suspect, different organisms), almost like another fungus garden there at the pleasure of its magnanimous fungus leaf host.

Watercolor Pen and Ink: Fungus Colony

Fungus Colony
9″x6″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

The darkness was almost impenetrable. I could hardly see a form within the shadow. My photograph gave me nearly the same information.

Photograph: Fungus Colony Normal Exposure

Fungus Colony Normal Exposure

However, I figured out a way to get more from the photograph.

Photograph: Fungus Colony Overexposed

Fungus Colony Overexposed

By overexposing the picture, even though the highlights were blown out, I got a good glimpse of what was hidden in the shadows.


This is more than the old joke about the unhappy man who asks his cube mate, “How is this office similar to a fungus garden?” When the other person shrugs his ignorance his mate says, “They keep us in the dark and feed us bullshit.”

Fungus is my metaphor for feelings. There are a plethora of feelings all contained in one body, perhaps different sections of the mind (the colonies within the larger fungus colony). Some of them are obvious and can stand the light of day. They can be beautiful in their details and in their various parts. However, some are not seen without further illumination. They are hidden in normal light.

Perhaps this metaphor holds for exploring feelings of grief, and other feelings that may not be welcome. Perhaps they need to be illuminated and dealt with. Maybe this metaphor even holds for the domestic fungi that sometimes grow (so I hear) in a neglected refrigerator. These fungi can be exposed by careful inspection of the content and eliminated with disinfectant.

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