Mushrooms were painted for the Natural Forms Project at my college last term. We were asked to choose any natural form of a system that we find exciting. The task was to draw inspiration of the system chosen and create a piece of work using our imagination. It was up to us whether it would be a figurative or abstract work but it was emphasized to conceive the idea boldly with great invention. Below I am making clear why I chose mushrooms and you can follow the process step by step.
Mushrooms, oil on canvas, 75×45 (cm), © 2015 Petra Terslova
Neither flowers nor animals mushrooms belong to the Kingdom of Fungi. They come in the most extraordinary shapes and colours. From the scientific point of view mushrooms are very interesting too. The main part of the mushroom is underground and the part we can see overground is only a fruiting body that only grows in a particular time of year.
To become more familiar with these amazing creatures I bought some mushrooms at the Borough market so I could touch them, smell them and observe their structure properly. Later I found some wonderful photos of mushrooms on the Internet. Of course, these were not reachable because mostly they are rare. Many of them are harmful to human health or even poisonous. I gathered all of my photos and cut the mushrooms out. I put together mushrooms that worked together compositionally. Some of them are based on complementary colours, some of them are monochromatic etc. I created the following little collages of mushrooms.
I picked some three of the compositions above. I first explored the compositions and shapes through drawing. My intention wasn´t to paint a simple still life with colourful mushrooms. Rather I wanted to create something more unexpected and dramatic. I therefore decided to change the scale, perspective and finally I cropped the whole composition so that the viewer only see a part of the giant mushrooms.
The winning composition is the one on the right as this one seemed to make the strongest impact. I decided to translate this drawing into the final painting.