Painting a Cottage Card

Last summer I was into drawing fairies. The mushrooms in my forest were transformed into moonlight bathtubs.

fairyprocess-finish:web

But this year I returned to ‘realism’ and featured the diminutive red eft. This brightly colored, juvenile phase of the Eastern Newt is on the move to winter quarters They are scuttling speedily along the mossy forest trails, looking for their new pond. 

RE_1 I paint a lot of Cottage Cards each summer and send them to my special friends. To make it a little faster I do them in batches. Each one is different, but they all use the same basic elements and colors.

After I’ve drawn the image in pencil, I completely saturate the paper with clean water. Using gouache, I paint the orange eft-wet into wet.RE_2 When the 1st wet layer has dried, I use a bright, mossy green to paint the background. reserving white areas as I go.RE_3 I add various colors to the mushroom caps.RE_4 The deep greens of the forest are added as an indigo layer in the far background.RE_5Purple-blue shadows under the mushroom caps and the eft’s body come next.RE_6 A winding Partridge Berry vine is added to three of the four cards, along with some mossy texture. I use a gold ink pen to outline the eft’s eye and the red spots along her body.RE_7 The final layer is a diluted wash of cobalt blue to focus attention on the red eft.

RE_8Now I remove the tape and, voila!

finish_2

 

 

Advertisements

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:

coreycorcoranfungus

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.

Catfungusweb

catfungus_2:webPurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!