In the original Snow White story by The Brothers Grimm, the poisonous apple was red and white. The witch ate the white part and the Snow White ate the red part, that made her unconscious. There has been some associations between the Amanita muscaria mushroom and the apple in stories like that of Adam and Eve. Perhaps, this could be another example, specially considering the presence of the 7 dwarfs in the story, reminiscent of gnomes often depicted around this mushroom.
It looks like the amanita muscaria mushrooms made their appearance in the game when the world of New York sewers, from the originalMario Bros’s game (1983), was replaced by the Mushroom Kingdom in Super Mario Bros (1985). In the updated version, the plumber who’s role was to defeat various strange creatures lurking in the pipes, changed to saving Princess Toadstool. A toadstool is a mushroom who’s classic appearance is that of the amanita muscaria. So I guess the new goal is to save Princess Mushroom in the Mushroom Kingdom. Along the way to saving the princess, Mario comes in contact with various creatures including various types of mushrooms. The ones that look the most like the amanita muscaria are magic mushrooms that give Mario superpowers and allow him to grow and shrink whenever he comes in contact with them… a little like Alice in Wonderland.
Sketching at the Hart House
Last Sunday I had the opportunity to sketch at the Hart House with a couple fellow sketchers. It was my first time in this building, which is part of the U of T campus, and I was amazed by the architecture. The Hart House was built in 1919. It was designed by architect, and master of the Gothic form, Henry Sproatt. The building is said to be of Collegiate Gothic style. Upon entering the building I could see right away that special care had been taken in designing this building because everywhere I looked, the scene was picture perfect. There is so much to draw, it was hard to settle on one place. I decided to draw a cute little sitting area and spent about two hour sketching the details of the piece above. As I was drawing, I was reminded of some of the lessons I learn during the last symposium about framing. I think it turned out well.
Coincidently, there was a quartet called Ensemble Made in Canada performing the same day. Some of us decided to attend the concert and sketch the performers. It was a very interesting experience for me to draw while listening to music being performed live, like some sort of art inception. Definitely something I would do again.
The subway stations are great locations for perspective drawings, so I attempted one the other day. It’s interesting to see how the stations look like compared to the ones I was used to back in Montreal. Here in Toronto, some of the platforms like at the Union Station, are very narrow and there’s not a lot of space to move around. Other stations are also really cold as they are not all fully enclosed or are essentially open to the outdoors. One the other hand there are a lot of stations, which is very convenient, and there are a lot of new ones under construction, which will be even more convenient. It will be interesting to see how the new stations are designed compared to the old ones.
Alice in Mushroom Wonderland
I thought it would be fun to explore the use of mushrooms in popular culture as a continuation of the discoveries I made so far based on John Allegro’s book. One of the most obvious is the story of Alice in Wonderland when she meets the caterpillar smoking a hookah on top of a mushroom. He tells her that one side of the mushroom will make her grow while the other one will make her shrink as an effect from ingesting it.
TOUSK Meetup #6 : Balzac Coffee
The plan for our 6th meetup was to go sketch the Christmas Market at the Distillery District, but we were so cozy and comfortable at our meeting point, Balzac Coffee Shop , that we decided to stay and sketch there the entire time. Despite the place being packed due to the holiday attractions all ten of us managed to find a nice spot on the second floor. It gave us a great opportunity to get a birds eye view of the space.
This coffee shop has a lot of character and interesting vignettes to sketch. I managed to capture various groups of people enjoying a hot drink after waiting in line forever. I felt bad for the staff, they were going non stop. The coffee machine just couldn’t keep up with the volume order fast enough. While I was waiting for my drink, I took the opportunity to sketch the sweets on the counter and a portion of the only coffee machine. The staff was moving too fast for me to capture them.
It was great to see all the sketches from the other artists. It always amazes me to see the variety of subjects that can come out of a single location.
The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross : Illustrated (Part 6)
During easter, there’s a tradition for kids to go find decorated eggs hidden mostly outdoors. Some believe that this activity originated from the search of the amanita muscaria mushroom. If that’s the case, it would explain the reason for decorating the egg in the first place.
The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross : Illustrated (Part 5)
The next stage of the mushroom cycle is compared to the mythological Phoenix, a bird known to die by fire and to be reborn from its ash cyclically on its own. Some say the mushroom at this stage resembles the open wings of the bird and just like the bird, dies and is reborn again on its own. Interestingly, the phoenix was adopted as a symbol early in Christianity and its ability to die and be reborn again can be compared to resurrection.
On our 5th meetup, we first went to the Union train station. It’s a beautiful space with lots of great architectural details. I could spend hours sketching in this space. We had planned to go to the Skywalk as well but it didn’t work out that day. There was way too many people for our group to comfortably find a spot to sketch, so we went back to the union station for a little more sketching before heading towards the subway station to meet the Toronto Subway Sketch Group. It was really fun and we had a great turnout. It was funny to see the reaction of some people entering our cabin and seeing a couple of us with our sketchbooks sketching people. I managed to do a couple sketches, but I always wish I had done more :)
We’re lucky to have Mei, who’s also a photographer, in our group. She took quite a few awesome photos of us during the event. Check out her facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/meicphotoart) to see more from our latest meetup as well as several other sketching events and her own sketches.
One month left to fill the second jar. It’s not impossible but it’s daunting. Best way to find out is to keep drawing :)
TGIM sketchnote 29
This week’s TGIM is based on football but can easily be used in any aspects of life. The one line that stuck in my head is all about giving up old habits to get to the next level. What am I doing right now that I need to stop doing? I think it’s a question that needs to be answered on a regular basis. In my case, the first thing I did was to cut cable TV and spend more time being creative by drawing more. I have to say, this one decision has brought a lot of positive changes for me this year. So as far as I’m concerned, what ET says works. Now what’s my next move? I really need to think about this one. There’s still a lot of hidden potential that needs to come out and play :)
Alternative holiday supplies
Last year I was inspired to draw my own version of a Santa Claus and his reindeer after finding out what some believe the be real origins of Christmas. One of my friend who saw my drawing thought it would be a great for a Christmas card. Can you believe I hadn’t even though of that at the time? Good thing there’s always another Christmas. So now the art is available as cards and a couple neat little items that are sure to spark interesting conversations over the holidays! So go and get some and be sure to order them on Cyber Monday : Shipping is free worldwide.
The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross : Illustrated (Part 4)
There’s a stage in the cycle of growth of the mushroom where it takes the shape of a cup and this has been referred to as the Holy Grail stage. The quest for the Grail itself is apparently the quest for the knowledge of the mushroom. When dew forms on the mushroom or rain collects into this newly formed cup, the water turns red (like blood) and possesses some psychedelic characteristics of the fungi. Historically, the mushroom has been the container for the juice of the ‘elixir of immortality’, or the ‘blood of God’, in many myths. This cup was thought to possess magical powers.
Coincidently, this cup is also used during the Eucharist as it was used during the last supper and is being reenacted in every ceremony: The flesh is the meat of the mushroom, represented by bread, and the blood is the water that magically turns into wine, when poured in the proper cup, represented by red wine. Coincidence?
Last week, on my way to meet other urban sketchers to sketch at the Art Gallery there was an issue with the subway. It took me an hour instead of 20 minutes to get to my destination. Good thing I was planning to get there in advance, so I wasn’t too late. Nevertheless, I used this opportunity to really take my time sketching this man who got a little shut eyes while waiting for the subway to bring him to his destination. He barely moved, which was great for me.
TGIM sketchnote 28
This week’s TGIM is the continuation of last week’s video. The bit about the high school basketball team really got me thinking that I need to step up my game. It makes a lot of sense : If you want to get to the next level, you have to prepare for it and practice at the level you want to be in. This means I have a lot of planning to do for next year on top of making sure I work on a high level this year! Let’s see what comes out of it later on. For now, it’s all about working on my skills and improving them each day. Enjoy.