In Praise of the “Artist’s Fungus”

There is a particular type of shelf fungus growing around here in the woods that I call an Artist’s Fungus, also known as  Ganoderma applanatum, the artist’s conk. Artists have been drawing on these for many years.  I found some contemporary examples by Corey Corcoran that are weirdly cool:


This is an ephemeral medium-if you don’t etch them quickly they harden and are no longer workable.

artist'sFungus-lakedunmore:webSome have better contrast than others. This early one of a loon has faded into a uniform tan, but the design is still visible.

loonfungus:webThe white underside of the fungus turns dark when it is disturbed. A sharp object like a nail, jack knife, or exacto knife can be used to etch.

fungus-mushrooms:webThe side of a blade can create shadows, but lettering is hard for me.

fishfungus:websome work better than others. Here the invasive weed Eurasian Milfoil‘s feathery textures work better than the gliding fish.

My favorite is my newest, a cat face and a tiny mouse on 2 separate fungi.



Baby Bear Counts One-Publishing Day!


Baby Bear and his patient Mama are back,

and now it is autumn in their forest home.  As baby bear counts from one to ten the weather grows colder. Like all the other animals in the woods, the bears are alert to signs of winter coming.

Walking in the woods this morning with my new MerryMakers plush bear cub, I saw signs that the season is changing everywhere I looked.

The ferns are turning yellow.


The fall flowers are blooming


The acorns are ripe and falling from the tree.


And the leaves are turning color.

Can winter be far behind?BBToy_1:web

Views from High Places

A great view is worth hiking for


Two views from Rattlesnake Cliffs, overlooking Lake Dunmore, Vermont.


McAfee Knob, on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Not terribly high, but a breathtaking experience if you are acrophobic!

McAfee Knob:web

And the view from Tinker Cliffs, looking south along the serpentine chain of the AppalachiansAppalachians:web

And finally, a recent painting from the top of Snake Mountain in Addison, Vermont. The fertile fields of Addison County, Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains are in the distance.


Making a Fairy Card

Every summer I make many ‘copies’ of one Cottage Card to send to close friends.  I am lucky to have a lot of friends, so I make a LOT of cards.

I usually keep the prototype here in my cabin in Vermont. So far, there are 12 of them. The Fairy Card started like this, but a square image is harder to mail, so it morphed into a rectangle.



I begin with a sheet of watercolor paper, grid it with masking tape and draw the design on each card.


Then I use classic assembly line techniques, pioneered by Henry Ford. Of course, there is a huge difference since I fill all the positions on the assembly line!fairyprocess_1:web

I start adding color, working on all the cards sequentially. No two are alike, but the palette is consistent.

This is a group of brunette fairies.



And they are all pleased to be bathing in an upturned mushroom cap.


And to fly around with rainbow wings.


Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Three Beavers

B&Beaver-'88A card, painted with watercolor on real paper birch bark, made for my mother in 1988.

The Beaver is an amazing animal. 

I have always been impressed with their talented tails, teeth and overall energy. They can transform an environment in a very intentional way, just like humans do.


Near my cabin in Vermont is an extensive beaver-created environment. Every time I visit it seems bigger and more complex. I never see the beavers themselves. They are nocturnal and secretive, but their handiwork is everywhere.

chewedtrunkThey are capable of taking down huge trees and can peel a stick of bark as neat as you please!

beaverchewingAll this work goes into dam building to enlarge their pond area.


beaver damIn this drawing you can clearly see the different levels that the low beaver dams create. And here are real dams from my hike yesterday.



AshbeaverdamDespite being made of nothing but sticks and mud, the dams become firm enough to walk on.

Their other project is the Beaver Lodge.

lodgeThe lodge is cleverly entered only from  underwater.



So when Baby Bear hears “clapping,” he runs through the reeds to find a beaver pond with lodge and dam and three busy, building beavers, gathering twigs and bark before winter comes.





Full Circle with Baby Bear Counts One: Part 5

You’ve seen cattails, right? They are in many roadside wetlands and frankly, they don’t look that appetizing.


catailsBut, according to a site called Eat The Weeds , the Cattail is such a useful plant that “It is said that if a lost person has found cattails, they have four of the five things they need to survive: Water, food, shelter and a source of fuel for heat—the dry old stalks. The one item missing is companionship. ”

Since they already have a cozy den, plenty of water and each other for companionship,  Mama and Baby Bear are digging the starchy roots to add to their Getting-Ready-for-Winter diet.


It is a muddy job and the Cub leaves the work to Mama Bear


While he pays attention to noises coming from beyond the reeds.

What could they be?  Stayed tuned for Part 6…