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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth De Cicco

Initial sketches: Quercus imbricaria and Wawayanda Foray


Quercus imbricaria sketching process. Inked tracing for graphite transfer. 11" x 14" Canson Tracing Calque.


Last week, I started a 24-leaf branch of an oak that looks like it could be a pure Quercus imbricaria. Q. imbricaria is a rare species that only occurs in one county in NJ, with the rank of S1. Out of the few extant populations, most are hybrids. The most obvious sign of hybridization is the presence of lobes on the leaves. I was helping my partner with a survey last week, and we may have found a new population (in a new county). The specimens we collected did not have any lobes and the acorns were still attached.

My first drawing of this species took at least 20 hours to complete, maybe 30?? However, I will be working on Bristol plate with graphite dust to speed up the process. The specimen is still holding up well, without any special preparations. I hope to finish the drawing by the end of the week.


I usually don't like to count my hours, but the measuring and initial sketch took about 3 hours. I still need to measure the remaining veins, but this should be enough information for the first few graphite layers while I work out the focal point.


...because it's mushroom season. Look at these giants:


Wawayanda mushrooms: Cortinarius, Laccaria, Russula, Bolete, Hydnum sp. on 14" x 17" Canson Calque.

All of these mushrooms, except the sticky, brown capped Cortinarius were identified at the foray. I photographed the mushrooms at home with scientific lighting, but after 3 hours on the collection table and 2.5 hours in the car, they were starting to dry out. I will do all of these in pastel and graphite dust on Bristol plate. [A tip for my future self: always photograph mushrooms before collection. ]


If that doesn't look like enough projects, I also collected a blue-green dye mushroom that I will need to extract soon. I'm getting backlogged with commissions and other requests, and we are in the best part of the foray season. Hopefully I will have new finished projects to share and a proposal for my NYBG final within the next few weeks.

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Angel Souto
Angel Souto
Sep 27, 2021

Great job! you are very talented. It was great to meet you at the NMA Forays. I've been illustrating professionally for over 20+ years and one of the best tips I ever got was to force myself to draw live on site. Getting used to quick/rough gestural capture will enhance your studio drawings as you are forced to focus on the most prominent features first. Then photographic reference at the studio will just be the icing on the cake. Keep up the great work and if you ever have any questions about illustration just let me know :)


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