Mushroom Ink Portrait
Hello and thank you for so many lovely messages especially by email telling me how happy friends are to see me back on my blog. And I am back! So here is a really fun post, in fact it is a fun guy (fungi ) portrait !
Its the time of year when foraging really does pay dividends for an artist as there is so much inspiration to see daily that tempts our brushes. But at this time of year there is also far more to benefit our studios in the form of natural dyes and inks. In the woodland section of our garden there are many ink cap mushrooms. Known as judges wigs because of how the white tops curl up as they evolve over a short period of time. If gathered and left to disintegrate in a container they form gorgeous ink that is a delight to work with. I paint with these mushrooms every year but now know they need to be applied in various ways to ensure the colour stays fast rather than fading which it can unlike manufactured products. As it is Inktober I thought it would be fun to share my afternoons play session results from working with the mushroom ink.
In the image below you can see my container with the disintegrated mushrooms. A black ink liquid has formed but when used it surprisingly often has a brownish rather than black appearance on paper. To begin here I simply created a blob of colour with the ink on a scrap of paper to see how strong the colour of the mushroom ink would be. I added water and ( being me ) instantly saw the hint of a face. A few brushstrokes later with water and touches of more ink led to my portrait of Shakespeare appearing. I am saying it is Shakespeare now but initially this was just a blob of ink. I have to be totally honest! Shakespeare apperaed by happy accident.
"To be or not to be" a portrait, that WAS the question!
Mushroom ink. Here I did add a little water as the ink had dried over night. Tip: if you are experimenting with home made inks formed with plants or herbs try avoiding adding too much water as you can then heavily dilute the ink to a very soft and possibly fading shade.
Years ago this particular mushroom ink was used by monks for calligraphy. So I am following in ancient footsteps not really trying something new. If you are out for a walk and see these beautiful mushrooms try picking some to paint with. But remember, DO wash your hands carefully after gathering them and be warned. Some have a rather strong odour about them which absorbs into watercolour paper and the smell can sadly last!
Artists tip for the day
How about experimenting creating your own inks and dyeing colours? After a while of experimenting it certainly makes us appreciate the fantastic manufacturers of all our favourite watercolour shades which we can simply buy without all the mess!
Thank you especially Daniel Smith!