9.000 x 4.500 inches
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Amanita And Lacewing
Beverley Harper Tinsley
Painting - Watercolor And Graphite
On a recent stroll along the Colorado Trail, during a campin trip near Buffalo Creek, we saw lots of these gloriously colorful amanita muscaria, or fly agaric, the classic fairytale mushroom. I've been hankering to paint these toadstools ever since. I included a green lacewing, to keep it company. This mushroom was painted partially in honor of the annual Telluride Mushroom Festival, or shroomfest, and if the original is still available at that time, I will offer it for sale there, at the Fungi Magazine booth. Stop by for a visit....
Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric or fly amanita, is a poisonous and psychoactive basidiomycete fungus, one of many in the genus Amanita. Native throughout the temperate and boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere, Amanita muscaria has been unintentionally introduced to many countries in the southern hemisphere, generally as a symbiont with pine plantations, and is now a true cosmopolitan species. It associates with various deciduous and coniferous trees.
The quintessential toadstool, it is a large white-gilled, white-spotted, usually red mushroom, one of the most recognisable and widely encountered in popular culture. Several subspecies with differing cap colour have been recognised, including the brown regalis (considered a separate species), the yellow-orange flavivolvata, guessowii, formosa, and the pinkish persicina. Genetic studies published in 2006 and 2008 show several sharply delineated clades that may represent separate species.
Although it is generally considered poisonous, there are few documented human deaths from its consumption, and after having been parboiled it is eaten as a food in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. Amanita muscaria is noted for its hallucinogenic properties, with its main psychoactive constituent being the compound muscimol. The mushroom was used as an intoxicant and entheogen by the peoples of Siberia, and has a religious significance in these cultures. There has been much speculation on possible traditional use of this mushroom as an intoxicant in places other than Siberia, but such traditions are far less well documented. The American banker and amateur ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson proposed that the fly agaric was the soma of the ancient Rig Veda texts of India; since its introduction in 1968, this theory has gained both followers and detractors in anthropological literature.
Bold and undeniably conspicuous, the bright red cap with its white flaky speckles characterizes this infamous mushroom known as �Fly Agaric�. A familiar image in popular culture, it is known as the �Gl�ckspilz� (lucky mushroom) in Germany and represents one of the five quintessential symbols of good fortune, (along with pigs, 4-leaved clover, chimney sweeps, and horseshoes). Innumerable decorative replica trinkets, variously cast in chocolate, marzipan or plastic proliferate in the window displays, especially around New Year. Even the most conventional of suburban lawns proudly display the gaudy fungus as plaster cast dwellings of jolly old plaster cast gnomes, smoking their plaster cast pipes. Every child has made its acquaintance via countless illustrations in seemingly innocent fairy tale books. Fly Agaric continues to serve as a classic symbol of enchanted forests and magical groves - the kind of places where fairies, gnomes and witches dwell.
These �kitsch� clich�s are remnants of a once potent magical sacrament. Mythologies from around the world echo with the distant memory of Fly Agaric as a semi-divine being associated with mighty thunder gods and cosmic fire. In India for example, the mushroom was sacred to Agni, the god of fire. His devotees made sacrificial offerings of Fly Agaric, while partaking of the sacrament to commune with their god. In Mayan dialects Fly Agaric is known as �Kukulja�, which also means thunder, while the Lakandon Indians call it �Eh kib lu'um�, meaning �Light of the Earth� (R�tsch). In parts of northern and eastern Europe it is sometimes called �Raven Bread� in allusion to Wodan's companions. The wise ravens travel on his shoulders and whisper secrets in his ears of things that are yet to come. Wodan /Thor too, is a thunder-god, a wild, shamanic god of nature who commands the elements. He gallops across the sky on his brave and loyal mount Sleipnir, the eight-legged stallion, who runs swift as the wind, and kicks up storm clouds in his trail. As the wild chase gathers speed the horse starts foaming from his mouth and where the foam drops onto the rain softened earth beneath, the Fly Agarics magically rise from the ground�
Familiar and conspicuous, yet mysterious and magical. The Fly Agaric represents THE archetypal mushroom per se - even to those who don't know it by name. Most people, conditioned by western culture, are possessed by an instinctual fear that frequently encompasses all mushrooms (a condition known as �mycophobia�), except perhaps those found on supermarket shelves. Some people may have been introduced to this species by means of one of the commonly available mushroom guides that mark it as 'highly poisonous and tag its picture with the deadly scull and bone symbol. Yet, despite this reputation, evidence from around the globe suggests that humans in the past (and, in certain places to the present day) have actually enjoyed a very intimate relationship with this 'very dangerous' mushroom. Apparently, this is no ordinary, poisonous toadstool, but rather a powerful psychotropic entheogen with a very rich and colorful history and folklore�.
Some words used to describe this painting are:
amanita, amanita muscaria, mushroom, mushrooms, bht, beverley harper tinsley, watercolor, shroom, shrooms, fly agaric. fly amanita, telluride mushroom festival, shroomfest, fungi, fungus, poisonous, psychoactive, psychedelic, shaman, toadstool, soma, red mushroom, lacewing, lacewings, green lacewing, green lacewings, chrysopidae, insect, red, green, brown, nature, forest, colorado, bug, bugs, fairytale, ritual, sacred, trip, trippy, tripping, fairies, fairy, elf, elves, leprechaun, leprechauns, luck, lucky, high,
Amanita and Lacewing is currently priced and available as professionally framed and matted. For photos of the original painting as framed, contact the artist directly. Or better yet, go see it in person at the incomparable St. Mark's Coffee House in Denver, Colorado, where it will be on display along with many of my other works, for the months of March and April 2014.
August 4th, 2013
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