Amanita muscaria

August 27, 2022

It’s a question that could be mistaken for the beginning of a bad joke . . .  What do an Australian botanical artist, a Welsh botanical artist, a Russian botanical artist, an American botanical artist, and a Canadian botanical artist have in common? The answer is, mushrooms. More precisely, Amanita muscaria, one of the more visually appealing of all mushrooms. And they’ve all painted at least one.

While preparing for a series of workshops—the first of which is an in-person workshop in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia in September—I contacted each of  these renowned botanical artists for their permission to showcase their work in my workshops and booklets. And each of them has graciously agreed to allow me to do so.

From Australia I have Dianne Emery’s magnificent Amanita muscaria pieces. The image above is one of them. Diane is one of the best artists I know for masterfully portraying reflected light on white or pale subjects. She is an active instructor in Melbourne.

From Wales I have a few Claire Ward pieces. Claire is currently one of the co-presidents of the Society of Botanical Artists in the UK. We connected over a mutual interest in painting fungi. She is about to release a book on painting fungi later this year. I am honoured to be included in the upcoming publication and will be announcing its release as soon as it happens.

From Russia I have a few works from one of the more renowned of mushroom painters, Alexander (Sasha) Viazmensky. Contacting him in current circumstances was difficult but I secured his permission through third parties. I asked how he was doing and was told that “he’s just fine off in a forest somewhere fishing and foraging”. Of course— what else does a mushroom painter do in August and September in the Northern Hemisphere?

From the United States I have an Amanita from Jean Emmons. Jean lives on Vashon Island off the west coast from where she was inspired to make mushrooms her theme for a 2012 RHS exhibition in the UK. To nobody’s surprise she received the best in show for her composite fungi study on vellum showing ten mushroom species that included the Amanita muscaria.

And finally, I’ve included a couple of my own mushrooms in my workshop booklet. I am lucky enough to have Amanita muscaria show up within feet of my studio here in Nova Scotia and I am always thrilled to see them. This year they were particularly good and with perfect timing for me to paint them.

I have already committed to teach online workshops on neutral colours in fungi in 2023 and will be announcing them closer the time. And my latest e-booklets on the topic in both coloured pencil and watercolour are about to be released!