Posted by: mew | November 6, 2009

catch as catch can

Just a quick catch-up post for Art Every Day Month.  On Thursday, I made my first ever spore prints.


Only two of the ten or so mushrooms I’d laid out actually “printed” anything.  But I thought it was really worth it nonetheless, especially since the darker of the two came out vaguely heart-shaped and with beautiful definition.

An ugly blue-grey toadstool that the experts had had trouble identifying at the club meeting dropped a thick layer of bright yellow spores with a few tiny dots of green, which was really unexpected.

This may have been more of a science experiment than an art creation, but if I can figure out how to seal the spore prints on the paper, I may incorporate them into some altered art pieces later.  And if not, I’ve always got my photographs.



The above is a detail of a piece I worked on Friday, tentatively entitled Prosperous.

The underlying paper here was ripped out of an old physics book F. gave me, one of those he brought with him from Romania.  Since it’s a Communist-era printing, the paper has kind of an irregular texture and may actually have been printed using an old-fashioned press.  Last spring I discovered it was perfect for the peeling paper background technique described by Claudine Hellmuth in collage discovery workshop, and I made several canvas backgrounds more than what I actually needed at the time.  This little 5″ by 5″ flat canvas was one of those.

I’d already added multiple layers of glaze and gel medium, sanding between layers to get the look I liked.  This process can take many days, and I often have a few pieces laying around the studio/office, either drying or waiting for a coat of gel medium when I get a chance.

After several layers, the background begins (sometimes) to look a bit transparent, as though one is looking through layers of color to discern bits of the original image or text.


Today I added the flower, taken from my favorite rose catalog, of David Austin’s English roses, but the 2007 edition so that I didn’t feel quite so guilty.  I believe the rose may have even been called ‘Prospero’, to match the theme of the piece, but I’m not positive of that now.  I looked at so many roses before making  a final selection.

I was searching for an image on magazine paper to use for a first attempt at a technique described in bernie berlin’s Artist Trading Card Workshop, a Christmas gift last year that I’ve mostly enjoyed staring at for inspiration.


The results are okay so far, although I’ve discovered I’m not a huge fan of drawing with Sharpie markers on top of gesso.  Something about the texture bothers me.  (I’m picky about texture.  As far as I’m concerned, the process of making art should ideally feel “right”, or what’s the point?  I’m obviously not one of those suffer for beauty sorts.)

Anyway, after the flower, I tacked on the message, a fortune cookie fortune I’d gotten about a month ago at F.’s and my favorite Chinese buffet.  It seemed appropriate, especially after dealing with work deadlines —  and by extension financial issues — this week.  The thing is, I may not have a lot of money, but when I’m creating, it’s true that I do feel prosperous.

When F. first visited me at my house, I felt nervous about how my financial status must show in my home and surroundings, and after a little while I admitted as much to him.  F. nodded thoughtfully and asked me what I thought made a person rich.  We then had a lovely discussion about our ideas of abundance and wealth, and at the end he melted my heart by whispering in my ear that I was the richest person he knew.


(I can’t believe the stuff I tell on the blog sometimes.  I’d never be able to say that out loud, I suspect, except possibly to my closest friends.)

Wishing you a prosperous week…

(Oh, and obviously all of these photos are mine.)



  1. spore prints….never heard of it. how do you do it? I’m intrigued

    • You gather mushrooms from, in my case, the forest floor, and then carefully remove the stem from the cap. There are official ways to do this, with a heated scalpel and so forth, and then there is my way, just breaking off the stem with my fingers. Ideally you want a flat cap to lay on the paper. Set it on the paper, then cover the mushrooom with a glass or a bowl, something to keep it from being disturbed by air currents, and leave it for 4 to 24 hours. Mine sat there I’d guess about 12 to 15 hours before I saw this kind of definition.

      One reason so many of them may not have worked is because I kept nervously checking them. So I do think it’s best to leave them completely undisturbed 🙂

  2. I like the texture on your work in progress.

  3. I llllloveeee your canvas and your fortune!!! How cool!



  4. your mushroom and other works are wonderful – I am loving it all – your story about being rich was beautiful – it touched my heart – thanks for sharing it all~!~

    • I’m so glad to have touched your heart. It’s good to realize our great good fortune now; isn’t it?

  5. I hope you do find a way to keep the spore prints. They are unique. I appreciate your description of your process on Prosperous too. I’ve never attempted such a multi-layered effect. I like the result.

    • Thanks! I do like the multi-layered works, and it’s definitely become my collage style over time — but it is time-consuming, with all of the drying paint and sanding between. Nothing gets finished in a day, that’s for sure. 🙂

  6. Your collage is incredible. I have always wondered about the process of collage. It is an area of art I have never studied. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Thank you, Rennata, for such a kind compliment. I got into it several years ago and have gradually realized I’ll never be through learning in this art form (or any art form, I suspect) 🙂

      Hopefully you’ll see more works in progress during AEDM and can get an idea of the whole process.

  7. That is a really gorgeous piece. I love it!

    • Thank you, Merrilee. I love your name — it’s very pretty, and it makes me smile 🙂

  8. I’m so glad you shared that story of richness with us, Meredith….it was beautiful and so true! As is your painting in progress. I love the rich warmth it it emanates and that rose is a magnificent touch.

    • Oh, Serena, thank you 🙂 As always, you are kindness and encouragement personified! Having gotten to know you during TAW, I can say that you seem very rich to me 🙂

  9. Oh, and I’m so intrigued by the mushroom prints….how interesting! I love the idea of having nature assist the art process. For use in your art, I would suggest you allow the mushroom prints to completely dry before applying 2 or 3 generous coats of sealer.

    • Coat one went on just about an hour ago. First I did a light layer of spray sealant, to try not to disturb the fine particles. I’ll follow up with paint-on sealant, I think. Thanks for the suggestion.

  10. Love that art enables you to say something you normally can’t Beautiful work…just love the texture…the color…wow!

    • Linda, I’m pretty shy in regular, everyday life, and I think writing especially has always been a way for me to say the stuff I just can’t manage aloud, you know?

      Thank you so much for the compliments!

  11. I as I commented earlier, I found your explanation to be inspiring. When I received an award that asks that you in turn pass it on, I thought of those whose work has inspired me this week.
    Please feel free to accept it or just take it as a compliment and thank you for inspiring me.


    You can find the image and the information here,

    • That is so cool, Rennata!! I gladly accept and will post about it in the next couple of days, you can be sure.

      You’re so very kind, and I’m blushing at the thought I inspired you. Thank you so much for the award and the compliments 🙂

  12. this is crazy, cool texture! i am in love.

    • Oh, christina, thank you so much for the compliment! I love the texture, too… I am all about texture, in life and in art 🙂

  13. that is beautiful! I enjoyed the description of the process. And your story about riches. You are so inspiring! 🙂

    • Thank you, elizabeth 🙂 You know I feel the same way about you!

  14. […] to give such richness and depth to a scene that would fit in the palm of your hand (examples here and […]

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