This summer, I attended the annual Guild of Natural Science Illustrators conference in Santa Cruz, CA. Every July, the GNSI members gather for a week of seminars, keynote speakers, workshops, and field trips. We learn from each other, and I always come home with renewed inspiration and ideas.
This year, I participated by teaching a mini-workshop on painting mushrooms in watercolor. The workshop filled up fast, and I had a wonderful group of artists. Unfortunately, July is not mushroom season in California, so I was not able to go foraging. Instead, I stopped by our local mushroom farm, Far West Fungi, to pick up specimens of lion's mane, oyster, shiitake, and other beautiful fungi.
Each student picked out their favorite specimen from the box. I spent some time explaining the different parts of the mushroom and also a little about fungus ecology and safe practices for foraging. I then did a quick tutorial on the steps to painting a mushroom, focusing on which characters to pay attention to when making an accurate sketch. When I paint mushrooms, I like to use dry brush techniques to achieve textures. I also use a white gel pen for highlights, which comes in handy when painting some of the slimiest fungi! We spent some time practicing these techniques.
What a really fun experience! I might have to do more workshops when mushroom season starts up.