• Inspiration
March 29, 2024

Sketching Mushrooms with Lisa Spangler

Come along as Lisa Spangler sketches and identifies various mushrooms on a trip to Pennsylvania.

By Lisa Spangler

A sketchbook lays open, showing watercolor paintings of mushrooms and color swatches, on top of a blue Art Toolkit, on the ground with leaves scattered about.

I love sketching mushrooms! They have really forgiving shapes, and I love exploring all of the subtle, earthy colors that I find when I take the time to stop and look closely.

Supplies List

An watercolor sheet lays on top of a sketchbook, showing swatches from a mushroom color palette.
Swatches of colors I love for painting mushrooms.

If I know I’m going to be sketching mushrooms, I like to add some specialty colors to my palette, including Daniel Smith Buff Titanium, Bloodstone Genuine, Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet, and Cassel Earth and Violet Ochre by Letter Sparrow. The Bloodstone Genuine is really granulating and adds so much texture! Try Lunar Black if you don’t have Bloodstone.

A sketchbook lays open on top of dried leaves, showing watercolor sketches of mushrooms.
A sketchbook lays open, showing watercolor sketches of mushrooms.
Mushroom studies at camp.

Mini Tutorial

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial:

1. Start out by mixing up a big juicy puddle of color. I like to use granulating colors to add that mottled look.

2. Brush the color on your nib pen, and draw some bold lines of the mushroom. If you don’t have a nib pen, use a fine brush!

3. Then, while the color is still wet, use a brush to blend it out — I like to use a water brush for this step as it’s almost effortless to get the blend!

4. Add more paint and details, tapping in color here and there.

5. When the paint is still damp, use a dry nib pen or a stick to scratch lines in for even more texture!

Mushroom Identification

Next up, try to ID your mushrooms! I like to use the Seek app.

Note: I never eat mushrooms that I find, although my Grandpa used to! I stick to the ones from the grocery store.

I think this one below is a purple and white deceiver — although I could be wrong! Gotta love that name.

A sketchbook lays open, showing watercolor sketches of mushrooms.

And this one on the right is a bolete! It’s so weird how it didn’t have gills, and that bright yellow underside is pretty amazing!

A sketchbook is held open by a binder clip, showing watercolor sketches of mushrooms.
I’m pretty sure this is a bolete mushroom — it didn’t have gills!

If my sketches inspire you to try your hand at painting mushrooms, I would love to see what you make! Tag me (@sideoats) and Art Toolkit (@arttoolkit) on social media! 

Lisa Spangler

All images courtesy of Lisa Spangler.

An artist sites on a rock, dipping a paintbrush in a Pocket Palette.

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