One fall day I found a cluster of mushrooms growing next to a tree stump in our yard. They were hidden under some leaves, which I cleared away just a bit. This revealed all kinds of sticks and other dark plant material that was in the process of becoming Illinois’ beautiful black topsoil. And what a lot of work this was. I got obsessed with every square inch of it. That colorful leaf near the top took two days to finish and was challenging to say the least. Painting the mushrooms made me happy. The little ridges look difficult but they’re actually pretty satisfying to create. There are so many tiny things going on here, and they’re the kinds of details you never notice, like what’s happening in the gaps between the leaves and the little fly (can you find it?). I tried to do them justice, but that meant mixing tiny amounts of hundreds of different colors, I’m guessing. I wasn’t sure whether to call this a still-life or a landscape, but I’m going to go with the former.
Watercolor – 16″ x 18″
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Originally created as a poster promoting excellence in education, this is my second portrait of my little friend Mabel. She was a kindergartener at the time, and I thought her contemplative pose was appropriate for this subject. Because Mabel’s expression is slightly ambiguous here, I think you can interpret the painting in two ways. Either she’s happy at a good school, and the things you see around her are real, or she’s unhappy at a failing school, and the things you see around her are imaginary. I painted Mabel realistically in watercolor, and in order to achieve a believable child art style for the background, I drew and painted the rest with my left hand, which as you can see operates at a shaky 3rd grade level at best.