Fungi at the Thielke Arboretum

With all the rain we’ve been getting I’ve been discovering fungi everywhere I look. Before my recent fascination with mushrooms, I’d never even noticed that they’re all around me. Now that I’m on the lookout, wow. My own backyard, a walk into town, outside a friends house or on a neighbor’s front lawn - they’re everywhere.

In a completely natural environment, like the arboretum here in town, the variety seems endless. Here’s what I found on a short walk…

SKETCHBOOK: Lichen in Watercolor

Lichens are everywhere, if you look for them…

One of the things I love about them is that they blend in, don’t call attention to themselves. They grow slowly, extending outward from the middle. The most common, or at least the ones I most often see, are light shades of green, some of my favorite colors. I painted one (of many) which grow on an old teak chair in my backyard.

 
vicky_katzman_watercolor_lichen_painting
 

SKETCHBOOK: Fungi

While hunting for these mushrooms, I took note of their color so that I could try to identify them once I got home. Since spore prints are sometimes important for accurate identification (I think especially for gilled mushrooms) I picked some that I found. For some reason unknown to me, however, my attempts to make spore prints from the caps were for the most part unsuccessful.

Fungi found at the Celery Farm in Allendale, NJ.

Fungi found at the Celery Farm in Allendale, NJ.

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Preserving a Butterfly

This summer I ran an Art & Nature Journaling workshop at the arboretum here in town. One (of the many!) highlights involved preserving a butterfly that one of the girls had found on the ground in a parking lot. It’s wings were stiff and closed up, so we put it between wet paper towels until it softened, then very gently spread it’s wings. We used tracing paper to hold the wings down and then secured them in place by pinning around them. We let it dry overnight. The next day when we unpinned it, the butterfly held it’s position - wings open. Beautiful. We lay it in a flat box to later be glued into for display.

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A LOOK BACK: Leaf Print Mandalas

After college I lived in NYC for almost 10 years. Making these prints had helped me bring nature into my daily practice. I’d take walks to collect fallen leaves from the sidewalk, then bring them back to my apartment. After pressing the leaves so they’d lie flat, I rolled them up with ink and printed them on the paper. Creating compositions with radial symmetry was calming, meditative, peaceful. I recently made more leaf print mandalas from cuttings I took in my own backyard and will post them at some point soon…

Botanical Line Drawing

Earlier this year, just for fun, I took a botanical drawing class at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. The instructor, Laura Vogel, was very methodical and thorough in her teaching style. She covered all aspects of line and how to use it to describe form, suggest both light source and depth of field, all while portraying the subject with accuracy. Here are some of my drawings from the class.

A branch from the Magnolia tree in my backyard.

A branch from the Magnolia tree in my backyard.

Although I studied art in college, there was a lot I picked up in this class. It was a great refresher, and I loved having an excuse to walk to gardens every week!

Sketch Book Fungi and Lichen

Botanical Art Show

Saw a show of Botanical art at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Below are my favorites.

Mixed Media

With the first two paintings below, I began to add some collage elements to the acrylic painting. I had bought myself a bunch of new colors and needed to test them out... this third painting is of all the new colors, labeled by name.

Rhododendron Painting

Began with a charcoal sketch on the canvas, blocked in the background, and got as far as you see below, close to finished.