Yes, the fungus is among us. Did you know that fungi are more closely related to us than they are to plants? Fungi are beautiful and mysterious, and they play an essential role in nature, returning organic elements to the soils to nourish new life. The forms we call ‘mushrooms’ are the fruiting, or reproducing bodies of large networks of underground fibers.
I work from observation combined with reference from my own photographs and various other reference imagery, materials, and descriptions.
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All images ©Kathryn Chorney.
Found on a dead tree stump in Wellington County, Ontario, this specimen became my first fungus illustration. It won an award from the Puget Sound Mycological Society, one of the largest mycological societies in the USA. Watercolour & ink, 14″h x 10″w. ©Kathryn Chorney (original in private collection)
Found on a dead maple tree in High Park, Toronto, in October 2011. These specimens were very small, only a couple of inches high, so I had an added challenge of learning to illustrate craggy tree bark in close-up. As a calligraphic element, I added the only known Shakespearean quotation about mushrooms – from The Tempest. This piece has been exhibited in Ontario and California, and most recently in Focus on Nature XIV, one of the world’s pre-eminent exhibitions of natural science illustration. The piece is now in the permanent collection of the New York State Museum. Watercolour, casein, graphite, 24″h x 18″w. ©Kathryn Chorney
These tiny clusters of beautiful brick-red fungi were found growing on a dead tree stump in Wellington County, Ontario (lots of fun guys are to be found there). The background pattern is meant to suggest the hidden, branching network of hyphae, or mycelium — root-like fibers that make up the bulk of most fungi. This piece has been exhibited in Ontario and California, and most recently in Focus on Nature XIV, one of the world’s pre-eminent exhibitions of natural science illustration. The piece is now in the permanent collection of the New York State Museum. Watercolour, graphite, casein, and acrylic, 24″h x 18″w. ©Kathryn Chorney.
Found on a fallen birch in the woods north of Toronto. The goldenrod standing at right provides orientation to the horizontal treetrunk. Several view angles help emphasize the fascinating dimensional form of this fungal body. This piece was exhibited in the New York State Museum’s Focus on Nature XIII and subsequently accepted into the NYSM’s permanent collection of scientific illustrations. Watercolour, casein, acrylic, 14″h x 10.5″w. ©Kathryn Chorney