Fungi – Fly Agaric – Amanita muscaria, found on Tiptree Heath in a clearing between Birch and Oak trees. Heavy rain can wash off the white fluffy spots, (veil), leaving a red fungi surrounded by white fluff dots on the grass. Before the mature fungi collapses, no longer red, it flattens out, curling upward.
My ink painting “Fungi – Fly Agaric” presented a challenge – how to show the fluff dots sitting on the surface and not as flat white marks.
On the heathland there are wooded areas and clearings where gorse and heather grow. It was out, away from the oak and birch trees, I found the hat shaped fungi, looped over with low growing bramble.
“Fungi with bramble and heather”, acrylic ink and india ink on watercolour paper. One in a series of paintings of plant forms, fruit and seed heads. I prefer to work on groups of paintings, each connected to the other by subject matter or ideas and from my own experience.
A photograph taken on a fungi hunt was used for an oil pastel sketch, which was then reworked for my ink painting – ‘Fungi and acorn’.
Exmoor ponies are now kept on Tiptree Heath to help maintain the balance of plants and growth specific to heathland. 2013 has been described as a ‘mast year’ for England – heavy crops of nuts and fruit. This is evident on the heath where the bumper crop of acorns are cleared from areas grazed by the ponies, limiting the amount of nuts eaten.
Reference for mast years visit
My seasonal studies continue after I went on a fungi hunt at Tiptree Heath organized by the Essex Wildlife Trust and supervised by a Mycologist from Colchester Natural History Museum. Approximately twenty people searched the heathland and in two hours collected 50 different fungi. Of these only a handful are good to eat, a few more are edible (would not make you ill), but some are highly toxic.
With very little time to draw I took photographs for reference. I find working from a print out of the photograph restricts my preferred way of working so I make quick sketches from the image on my computer, using pens or oil pastels. This approximates to drawings made outside and is my starting point for further development into an ink painting.
Essex Wildlife Trust
Colchester and Ipswich Museums