Botanical Painting: History & Trees
What do the following items have in common: the Declaration of Independence, Da Vinci’s notebooks, Bach’s musical scores, Rembrandt’s drawings, Shakespeare’s plays, and the Magna Carta?
Or why trees are important in making a botanical palette?
I use a painting method that dates back to the Middle Ages. Sharing my works with community is a part of my process. In my workshops, I share my findings in research in mycology and other sciences. I share how to turn natural materials such as plants, herbs, fruits, veggies, and spices into colorfast botanical palettes. My website provides resources used in my research, experiments, and findings on how to create your own archival botanical palette. Now, I use my own recipes in my botanical palettes that are informed by middle age recipes and processes which includes the dying and painting of mycelium and other materials of solution. This is bio art, plant-based, eco-friendly, sustainable and 100% natural living art. My work is my approach to climate solutions. It is healthier for you, me, and the planet. I use layers of foraged, botanical watercolors, earth pigments, mycelium, tree resin and mica minerals to achieve the brilliant and deep colors found in each botanical material. In addition, I share mica mineral palettes, egg white, wheat paste, natural tannins, and natural mordents you can make yourself.
At the Indiana University Lilly Library, I have researched illuminated manuscripts, recipes, and found that the scribes who painted these manuscripts were often referred to as an illuminators. Scribes used iron gall ink made from growths on oak trees caused by parasitic wasp. The galls were crushed and mixed with water; honey; sometimes with sulphuric acid—gum arabic, which is a binding agent; and iron shavings from the bottom of a cauldrons to make blue/black ink. Over time, the ink rusts, so, for example, the writing of the Magna Carta is now brown.
Today, botanical painting methods are used for dying fabrics and other materials. With other advancements, we are able to save on time and costs to the approach of healthier methods of recreating this historical approach to botanical painting in addition to supporting a healthier environment. The permanence and water-resistance of the iron and gall-nut formula has made it the standard writing ink in Europe for over 1,400 years. I have spent the last 4 years exploring, experimenting, researching mycelium, and developing work inspired by the fungi kingdom, botanical recipes, methods and processes. Below are images of my journey into the underground and search for solutions to inspire a sustainable world.
Making color with Black Calla Lily
Making color from a Shaggy Mane or Inky Cap Mushroom: Coprinus Comatus
Inky cap mushroom and blueberry
Making color from Fall Leaves
Making color from
Making color from Burning Bush or Euonymus Alatus.
Inky cap mushroom, blueberry & Burning bush