When I first drew this image, I never imagined it would someday be a painting. It was a line drawing intended as a coloring page and nothing more. But as the Daydream Odyssey coloring book project pivoted into a painting series, I knew I would want to paint it BIG.
The opportunity came when a canvas I’d originally started as another idea kind of fizzled out upon execution. It was an homage to the famous poem by Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” which was purportedly an ode from him to his dying father. It was also a key moment in the Christopher Nolan movie, Interstellar. Read here for the full story behind the poem, and a video of Thomas reading it aloud for a radio audience.
While it worked well as a sketch, as a painting it just didn’t really hit the mark for me. So I when I decided to make the Mushroom painting, “Rage, Rage” got repurposed, repurposed. One of the cool things about this, is that now in the finished Mushroom painting, if you observe from the right angle, you can still see the letters from the poem. Fun little insider secret for you - another reason seeing paintings live and in person is far superior to only viewing images online or in history books. (Public Service Announcement: Go to Museums and See Paintings Up Close!) *steps off soapbox*
One thing I wanted to change about the original image is the wallaper-ish background that I’d drawn. I thought that with the circle border & the curvilinear shapes of the mushrooms, the pattern in the background should be more geometric and structured to provide visual contrast and balance to the image.
Enter the isometric grid.
Tile design by Ann Sacks
Found in Elle Decor magazine and pasted in my sketchbook
Isometric grid in this cereal bowl from Costco
The pattern kept popping up around me and I couldn’t ignore it.
I painted over the words and purple dots on the canvas, using white gesso. Then outlined the isometric grid and the mushrooms in green paint.
Once the design was inlace I had to think about what I was going to DO with the isometric grid. I really wanted to revisit the collage technique I used with my Unicorn painting. I had been thinking about using paper in this background, but what should I use as the source material?
The mushrooms - which have shown up in my work before - always gave me an Alice in Wonderland feel. My favorite version of this book has always been a 1955 hardcover from Random House, part of a series called Dandelion Library. Each book in the series is double-sided; with one story on one side, and another story on the flip-side. The Alice book is backed by Peter Pan, another personal favorite. The delicate illustrations are lovingly drawn by Marjorie Torrey, the stories edited by Josette Frank.
I used some plastic packaging material from those evil, impossible-to-open packages, and made a triangle template. I poked a hole so I could mark the center of the triangle and draw lines in from the corners to show the delta pattern.
The collage process:
After the collage, all I had to do was paint everything! Here are the rest of the process images, the small pieces are watercolor studies I made for color tests.
And finally, the last part was applying the gold leaf to the border! The first part of the video below is using a brush to paint on the gilding adhesive. This stuff is super sticky and dries fast, which is bad while it’s on your brush, but good after you paint it on because it has to completely dry before you add the gold leaf.
The gold leaf is SUUUUPER lightweight, fragile, and tears easily. There were a few areas I had to go over again because it didn’t really look too great the first time.
And here’s the back, which kind of came out cool, because the collage on the front of the canvas gave a quilted effect to the back. Happy accidents! Anyway, so here she is, all finished. The highlights & lowlights on the collaged isometric grid give a very cool kaleidoscopic effect which is what I was going for. As you move around the painting, light reflects off the triangles like faceted glass. I wanted the viewer to feel as if it is a portal to another world, just like Alice going through the looking glass. Thank you so much for coming along on this journey with me! I hope you enjoyed your stay :)