You may be able to tell from the amount of times I've mentioned this thing - but I am absolutely loving my new mushroom art print. I've never really worked with so many bright colours before, so I had a bit of a hankering to do so with this print.
Drawing fungi has been on my mind for a long time after reading Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake, but I got a kick up the butt recently by the National Trust, who are holding a Fungi Festival at Emmetts Garden in October, and which I will be part of (in the craft marquee). They wanted nature inspired goods (which mine are), and mine are also 100% zero waste and made of recycled/eco-friendly materials, so that helps, but I had nothing with mushrooms on - for a fungi festival! So, this is where the print comes in.
My initial stop was to do some research. One of the reasons it took me so long to start this project was that I couldn't decide which mushrooms to draw, as there are so many in the UK. And blimey did I go through some websites. Did I create a print full of poisonous mushrooms? (see below for the rough start of that one). Edible mushrooms? Did I confine myself to mushrooms in the UK? And if so, where could I find a comprehensive list?
In the end, of course, I decided that for once I wanted to work with colour. And once that decision was made, the rest became clear: I would draw only the most colourful mushrooms I could find, and I would stick to the UK, because that's what all of my other identification prints are limited by. It became even easier when I happened across Wild Food UK, a website with a comprehensive list of UK mushrooms, including information about whether they were poisonous, edible, or neither and how rare they are.
I also wanted to look around at other mushroom art and drawings, to make sure I was working in my own style, and that I wasn't too similar to anyone else, and also to gain inspiration.
One of my major inspirations was an artist called Jessica Roux, whose beautiful work you can find here. Plus, some stunning vintage mushroom art. As always, though, I really wanted to give it a contemporary edge, mixed with the vintage style, so the colours are all clean, bright and crisp, rather than with that slightly brown, softer tone vintage botanical drawings usually have.
Once I had some images, I started work on some rough drawings. There were definitely more than a few non-starters, as you can see with the skull image above, but in the end, I settled on something more like my other work. I rough sketched it onto my iPad with the pencil brush, and using lots of copyright free reference photos previously collected, slowly built a picture of mushrooms that fitted together, bending and twisting as I went so that they fitted like puzzle pieces, to which I would add some floral embellishment later.
Then, I made that layer less opaque, and started to draw over the top of the rough, neatening and adding detail where possible using a super skinny pencil brush. I drew the mushrooms out first, then added the colour on another layer below. I'm a big fan of opaque colours - I love using gouache, so more often than not, even though I also love a more watercolour effect, my work always ends up with opaque colour as a feature. I also always try to keep my linework deliberately simple, so it's clean and clear - even though the fine artist part of me always wants to go crazy accurate.
One of the things I also try really hard to do when I'm working digitally, is not to be too perfect. I want all of my work to look as it would do if I had hand drawn it. So, I leave colour that goes outside the lines, I leave wobbly lines and even, sometimes, lines that shouldn't be there. When I'm drawing digitally, one of the key things to do also, is to make sure my colour is set for the end purpose (CMYK for printing, RGB for digital), and that I'm drawing in the correct format. In this case, 10 x 12 inches, which is my standard size for prints. When I'm using Procreate, I also like to decide on a background colour early, because that effects the colours above it.
Finally, I had each mushroom drawn out, the leafy embellishment was added, colours finalised and then I airdropped it to my mac as a JPG, ready for printing. I went straight to my usual printer D Studio , where I print all of my art prints as giclée prints (a giclée, pronounced zhee-clay, print, is the highest quality of print available. It's what is used in museums, and it means the colour doesn't fade as easily, and that the inks more accurately print the colours - in fact, they often look exactly like the original for years to come). I always use giclée because I have absolute horrors when I think about people buying my work and then the colours fading within a year (as has happened to me when purchasing art prints before!). I also always use Hahnemühle Hemp paper, because it is more eco friendly than cutting down trees for the purpose, and I have it packaged in biodegradable packaging with a recyclable backing board. D Studio do all of that for me, then send it on over.
You might think the work is done dear reader, but when you own a small business, that is not the case. After all of that, I then had to photograph the print, create mockups so that the customer would know what it looks like on the walls, list it on my website and Etsy, write different copy for both (because Etsy relies on their own keywords, while my website relies on Google's), have one framed for my markets, package and price them for markets, start promoting and talking about it on social media . . . I created a poster out of it with identification, just in case that was a preference for some people, and to give a cheaper price point, and more options. I also created a weekly planner out of it, and am in the middle of designing a sheet of stickers and a letter set. *Phew*. It is a long, long journey.
If you want to know more about any of that, comment below and I can do some 'How to' posts on here. Also, sign up to my newsletter on my 'contact' page to make sure you're in the loop for notifications on new prints (like this one), discounts and free gifts like my weekly planner templates!
And if you fancy having a gander at my mushroom print, click below.
As always, thanks so much for reading.