Marie F. Heerkens, Fungi Artist
Artist Marie Heerkens is known worldwide for her natural illustrations and for her unique mushroom art. Marie Heerken's love of nature shows in her stunning depictions of plants, birds, animals and, especially, mushrooms. Her study of mycology during the past 23 years has led her not only to have fungi as a recurrent theme, but also, and more surprisingly, to use the mushrooms themselves as a medium for her art.
“The fungi that I transform into fine art is Ganoderma applanatum, commonly known as shelf fungus or artists’ conk. The technique I use is called pyrography, which literally means writing with fire.“
As Marie Heerkens explains from her studio in Fairport, New York, the usual medium for pyrography is wood or leather. However, she took this technique into an entirely new direction when she decided to try it on the shelf fungi she had been collecting for a number of years.
“I did my first pyrography on a shelf fungus in 1991, which depicted one of my favorite mushrooms: the Morchella esculenta, or morel. Since then I have done many more, which I have displayed at various exhibits and art shows. I pick the mushrooms during the summer months while they are actively growing and the surface is fresh, and I dry them out for a few weeks. Then I lightly scratch a preparatory drawing with an etching tool. I typically choose wildlife, wildflowers and other fungi as subjects, planning the composition of the piece while visualizing what will fit the particular shape of the fungus. Then I start drawing with a wood-burning kit while wearing a protective mask. It is important to work in a well ventilated room or outdoors. Occasionally I also apply watercolors which soak into the pores of the undersurface. Another quintessential aspect of my work is that I incorporate leaves, twigs, feathers and other materials that are often found naturally attached to the outside of the fungus.”
Marie Heerkens is a graduate from S.U.N.Y. College at Geneseo. Her passion for mycology led her to become the co-author, illustrator and photographer for the 2003 edition of The Field Guide to Mushrooms, a classic book among mushroom aficionados, which is based on the “Field Book of Common Mushrooms” originally published in 1928 by William S. Thomas. Her pyrography has also been recently featured in the book Mycelium Running and the magazine Herbalgram.
Marie is a Signature Member of the Artists for Conservation Foundation, and more examples of her pyrography on Ganoderma applanatum and other artwork can also be seen online at natureartists.com. She is also a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists, the Genesee Region Orchid Society, The Nature Conservancy, and the Rochester Area Mycological Association. Marie Heerkens lives in upstate New York and can be contacted online at Heerkens@aol.com
about the artist • the field guide to mushrooms • pyrography • paintings & drawings • photography • t-shirt designs • scratchboard artwork • links
All digitized artwork on this website Copyright © 2008–2013 by Marie F. Heerkens. All Rights Reserved.
Last updated 01 December 2013