How would you paint a fungal landscape?
Len Avery, England
A quick look at the weird and wonderful examples an internet search throws up should fuel any imagination. There’s a surprising variety to choose your inspiration from. For this article I go for more recognisable, mushroom shapes to base my composition on, but hope that a low eye-level will suggest an unusual sense of scale. With this in mind I also elect for a portrait format.
I fire up ArtRage and start sketching with the Pencil tool, with the Precise setting toggled on (just my preference). I base the image around a focal mushroom shape with a sort of double cap. An initial idea of lighting is brought in using several layers of watercolour shadows (I set my layers to Multiply blend mode). I go on to introduce some bolder colours, using the Chalk tool, on a couple more layers, just to make them easier for me to edit.
After working at these for a while I feel the need for some sense of background, so I splash some simple colours on layers behind with the Light Pressure Chalk, which is set to Mottled, so as not to make them appear too bland.
The key point about making this work, to my mind, is mostly about making the odd shapes convincingly lit. Get that right and you can paint them just about any colours you want. Mine is a fairly conservative approach that doesn’t stray far from colours you’ll find in nature. But please do push it any direction you fancy. I keep working at the line, colours and tones until the scene makes some sort of sense.
It’s easy to be influenced by iconic images such as Alice in Wonderland, but the amount of reference available online should enable you to stray
in all sorts of directions. I chose a portrait format for this landscape to help emphasise the strangeness, but also to enable me the show the full height of the central mushroom from closer in.