In February, I pledged to participate in #Funguary and post all pieces at @booksofm on Ko-Fi, publish Into Shadow: A Poetic Exploration of Personal Fears, and offer two new classes to help fundraise for my trip to Egypt in addition to my regular game-and-fiction writing. I’m happy to say that I met all of my goals, and I wanted to share some of the lessons I’d gleaned from the experience illustrating and painting daily mushrooms of a whimsical sort.
My personal goals for #Funguary were to play around with my new-to-me watercolor pencils and figure out if watercolor is something I want to pursue further as a medium. The pieces are all illustrated and painted within an hour (including drying time). Since I haven’t dived into watercolors much before, I figured I’d share a few things I'd learned along the way.
I haven’t painted in some time, but when I got back into painting miniatures and with acrylics I had a few ideas stuck in my head. Namely, that pigment needed to cover every surface and the outlines, even in flat painting, should be crisp. Starting with watercolor pencils, I was able to manipulate the line much better than regular paints, but the fill wasn’t what I wanted. You can see from a few of the images that I was playing around with different kinds of fills just to see how the pencils would brush up. I cleaned up the edges in some cases with a Posca white marker or a Prismacolor fine point; others I used a Spectrum Noir or Chameleon marker to add a deeper, sharper fill.
About halfway through I got bored with my watercolor pencils, because I didn’t feel challenged. Some of the mushrooms were similar colors or shapes, and that also contributed to a desire to try something different. That did happen on Day 17 when I realized another name for the clathrus archeri mushroom was the Devil’s Fingers. So, I broke down and worked on an actual painting of the sinister, or left, hand instead of just playing around using a minimal color palette.
The issue with watercolors I was having was that I was starting with a darker pigment—which is how I use acrylic paints. The key with watercolor, I found, was to use lighter pigment and then, on the last application, use a darker tone to add definition. By using the negative space, I was able to get more definition, but it meant I’d have to think about those spaces a bit differently.
I painted a few extra pieces—doodling, mostly—to get a feel for the brushes I had and how I wanted to incorporate my Stabilo pens. What I discovered is that I prefer to use the watercolor pencils to outline the shapes and, if needed, provide fine-tuned control. I also need to add more time to dry sections if the paper gets to wet; even with a sponge, I’m not a huge fan of working with wet-on-wet watercolors because of the way the paint runs. That might change the more I keep practicing, but for now? I think I can call this month of fungus a wonderful exercise.
I’m working on a lion next, but am taking my time to apply the lessons I’ve learned.
How about you? Did you participate in #Funguary? Or any other challenges this month?