Saturday 12 October 2019

Mushroom Ink : Inktober 2019

Mushroom Cat
Created with Mushroom Ink


I first discovered the value of painting with mushroom ink some time ago when we first moved into our cottage. I found  mushrooms in our woodland garden that resembled judges wigs. When I read up about them I was thrilled to learn that this fungi was used by monks years ago for calligraphy and after reading up on the subject I decided I would try painting with the same ink. The above painting of a cat is created using mushroom ink from inkcap mushrooms.

I have now learnt how to prepare the ink from the mushrooms and how to avoid any fading of my finished work. I have also discovered mushroom ink really does create the most gorgeous effects just like purchased inks. They are fascinating. You can lift the ink colour, make fabulous watermarks with it and have fun experimenting to gain all manner of effects with this soft and interesting fluid mushroom ink.

Rather than appear as black on paper even though the liquid certainly looks black, a brownish shade is usually gained at places in my results/

To avoid fading I now apply two coats of mushroom ink building up my painting very gradually.  I often  allow the first layer of mushroom ink to dry and then add detail on top, so the softness of my muted background shade acts as a base for my stronger more prominent detailed brushwork which is added finally to complete my composition.

This natural ink is so much fun to experiment with and what better month to try this idea than Inktober?

There are many natural dyes to try, this is just one.My blackberry paintings always involve the juice of staining, real blackberries for example. So here is a challenge, How about finding something from nature that you can paint with?

I double dare you and perhaps you could share your favourite dyes with me.

Happy Inktober!


Inktober 2019

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! 


Monday 7 October 2019

Hello? Is there anybody there?

"Taking the Lead"
Latest horse racing painting in watercolour
Copyright Jean Haines

I feel as though I am walking into a room without a clue as to whether anyone will be in it or not.
Its' been so long since I wrote on my blog and I'm wondering if anyone is still here to read my posts! I am so sorry. 
I had an email from a blog reader recently asking where I was. I am here, just not finding time to write here lately. Not for any other reason than that I am really hectic with my offline life.

I could blame our two new puppies for taking up a lot of my time because they do. My daily routine now consists of daily long walks to tire them plus a training schedule. You will be pleased to hear that I am now almost fully trained to their way of thinking. Although seriously they are beautiful boys, great fun to be with and they are at this young age, quite naturally, time consuming.

But back to my art. I am working on a project that hopefully will be released next year and if possible announced before Christmas. It involves filming and that is the main reason I am quiet. I hope you will love the news when I can finally share the secret in a big reveal!

I have been in an exhibition in London too plus I demonstrated at an authors day at the Mall Galleries again in London ,via my publisher. Thank you to everyone who came to see me because it was such a great day. And a bargain. Visitors could see a number of artists working for a very low entrance fee although it seemed everyone who came to see me stayed with me for the whole day and I managed to practically pull off a workshop experience almost, with three different presentations throughout the event. I may return next year so do watch this space!

But I am back now, settled in my studio and painting, loving that feeling of seeing colour flow across paper.

Its' autumn and the autumn colours are as always thrilling me.

I hope to share more regularly now.

Dorothy, a special hello to you and thank you for your email about my being missing from my blog which shook me back into typing here!

Huge hugs to everyone and happy painting!