Australian Design Centre - Meet the Maker Mushroom Workshop

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Each Saturday the Australian Design Centre hosts makers and designers in their space to give a demonstration of techniques, explain their practice, and allow visitors to have a go (if appropriate). We are very fortunate to have our products in their Object Shop and this past Saturday we participated in the Meet the Maker Program by hosting a workshop on learning how to draw mushrooms.

Amy and I are totally obsessed with Fungi and are always trying to either make art with fungi in it or to buy art with fungi in it. The variety and breadth of mushrooms as visual imagery is astounding and my favorite thing about doing the workshop was how different everyone's mushrooms were.

Something I have done for a long time is to use crayons like old masters use oil paint, working with a ground (colored background), building up light/dark, doing a warm 'wash' and then adding warms and cools at the end. I love this technique because it allows you to gradually create imagery that is luminous and layered like an oil painting with none of the toxicity, ventilation requirements or difficulty in cleaning up. I like to work with half wax/half oil crayons.

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For the mushroom workshop, the participants went through a series of steps to help them draw a mushroom using these old world techniques. Something that we spent time discussing was how in an oil painting, if you look closely at the white highlights, you'll see that there is physically more white paint in that spot. And if you look at the shadows of an oil painting, you'll see it's quite thin paint, possibly even just a thin wash. This is because painting is where our 3-D world meets the 2-D world, meaning that our eyes can physically see more light bouncing off of something that is more physical like a blob of white paint. Simply put, we are all being tricked by the old masters.

But, if you use some of the older techniques that they did, like physically building up the white parts so more light reflects, you can get an interesting and luminous form of something that might not have been painted so much back then - like lots and lots of mushrooms!

The best part of the workshop was how engaged the participants were. They were all incredibly lovely people who blew Amy and I away and everyone was totally willing to try out these old crazy techniques to create a more 3-D looking mushroom.

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Some basic things I would recommend if you're trying to create a more 3-D looking object in any medium, whether or not it's crayon, pencil, paint or other would be:

* Work slowly and really look at the object you're trying to draw. Where does the light fall? Where does the object begin to turn away from the light?

*Use cooking methodology - 'A little bit of this and a little bit of that' to spread your colour and light around the object.

*Shadow Core - A word that sound a lot more ominous than it actually is! It's when you look at a shadow, it's not all the same value (dark tone). There is actually a build up of tone to the shadow and then a gradual recession meaning there is a band of shadow within the shadow that's known as the shadow core. Use this and your object will look more three dimensional.

*Warms and cools - Think about your object in the part where the Sun hits, it would feel hot, right? And what about the part of your object that's in shade? It would feel cool, right? If you want to make your object appear more 3-D add some warm colour to the part of your object that's in Sun and some cooler colours to the part that's in shade.

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This is our Forest Floor tea towel that was made using these same methods. Each little mushroom was created once and then scanned into the computer with a digital repeat created. In real life, the mushroom drawings were bigger than what's on the tea towel, but not by much. And each little fungi took HOURS and hours to create. Patience is always a virtue, but it comes in extra handy when you're trying to make tiny mushrooms.

Thanks to everyone that came to the workshop and thanks to the Australian Design Centre for having us! If anyone has any three dimensional drawing questions or burning mushroom questions shoot them our way :)