Drawing Connections: Mushroom Recursion Series

published12 days ago
3 min read

Drawing Connections

"Mushroom Recursion Originals"
Vol. 1, No. 10, November 2021

Stories Behind the Art

My first exposure to the concept of mushroom ink was last year when artist Jo Brown extracted some and signed a few of her wonderful pieces with the ink. So, when I spotted a shaggy mane ink cap on my lawn deliquescing (reducing to liquid), I decided I would try and extract some ink.

Final mixture on (left) and remnants of mushrooms (right) with the thank you card.

I picked a few of the mushroom caps and placed them in a container in my fridge for four days. I then extracted ink by filtering the remaining liquid and mushroom bits through a metal strainer similar in size to a tea diffuser. I then added 20% vodka by volume to stabilize the ink. In the second batch, I boiled down the liquid to make it a little thicker. It worked perfectly!

I tried using a fountain pen to draw with the ink but the material is just too granular and I was worried it would damage my pens so I switched to a brushes. I use the travel brushes from Rosemary & Co and specifically the R5 and R10 for this work.

The paper is Arches 7” by 10” cold press (300 gsm) in block form to keep the paper in shape when painting. It worked very well. The mushroom ink is much more like a watercolor paint than ink. I was able to let a small amount of unused ink dry out over night in a ceramic painting tray and then reactivated it with water. This produced a much darker tint. No matter how you apply it, it took many layers to get the values just right.

The question I get asked most is what does it smell like. When I am painting with it, it smells like mushrooms and the forest. Quite a pleasant smell and on brand with the pieces I created :-) Once dry, there is no real smell.

Recursion (adjective: recursive) occurs when a thing is defined in terms of itself or of its type.

For the first time ever, I am selling the originals! They are now for sale online and as a subscriber to the newsletter, you have first access. I will be opening these up to everyone by promoting it on my site and through social media in 24 hours. Limited edition signed 5” by 7” prints (25) will also be coming later this week at $50 CDN. The discount code at the bottom does not apply to the originals but does apply to the prints.

Browse the gallery below and if you see something you like, click on the image to go directly to my site. If you want to see the complete “Mushroom Recursion” collection on the site before it goes live use this link.

What’s next? I have more mushroom ink to use over the winter. Also, we have a walnut tree which supposedly makes incredible ink with the walnuts but is more involved. Stay tuned as this will be a project for fall 2022.

Thanks for following along and I look forward to creating more of these in future.


Recent Drawing Inspiration Episodes

Here are a couple of the most recent “Drawing Inspiration” podcast episodes. The podcast is available wherever you listen to music.

64: Reflections, Creating with Mushroom Ink, and Social Media

64: Reflections, Creating with Mushroom Ink, and Social Media

I take an episode to reflect on being a creative over the last couple of months. I explore some of the challenges we experience and consider how to build a recipe for recovery for your creative practice. I answer questions about creating mushroom ink and then painting with it and end with what a short shutdown of Facebook and Instagram means for creatives.

65: Character Design, Caricature, and Embracing a Creative Mindset with Stephen Silver

65: Character Design, Caricature, and Embracing a Creative Mindset with Stephen Silver

I talk about my recent mushroom ink piece and share a view into my pencil case. I am then joined by Stephen Silver to talk about the creative journey that has allowed him to work at Disney, Nickelodeon, and many others. Stephen shares what inspires him and how he arrived at the point of being an artist as well as a teacher. He talks about what he has learned as a teacher and he shares what we can learn from having a positive creative mindset..

Are you enjoying the podcast? If so, you can support it through Patreon. Your financial support goes directly to the costs associated with recording, hosting, and running the show. I also have some great benefits through all three tiers. You can also support the show by leaving a review within your podcast player as well as sharing the podcast with others.

Support Drawing Inspiration on Patreon


What I'm Watching

As I mentioned previously, I have been watching “Foundation”, on Apple TV+ and it has been incredible having just finished the season finale. I would highly recommend also listening to the official podcast for the show found here. It provides interesting insight in to the production and the story as well as the similarities and differences with the books.

I have always been a fan of Steve Martin and Martin Short so when they teamed up with ”Only Murders in the Building” on Disney+, I had to check it out. Funny and well written and, without giving too much away, it really it home with me ;-)


Online shop and discount code

Visit the my shop at shop.mikehendley.com and
use the code MUSHROOMS2021 for a 15% discount
on any order (does not apply to originals).

Discount code valid to December 15, 2021


Stay safe, take care and keep drawing.

-Mike (he/him/il)

Vol. 1, No. 10, November 2021


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