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Camino Journey on Canvas

In 2011 my husband and I traveled by bicycle on the ancient pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela across Northern Spain. Our journey included centuries-old churches and plains of grain, countryside and urban settings, nature and weather, solitude and community, food and drink, but above all intense spiritual chllenge and growth.

I've done a few things to help us capture the power of our Camino but my most ambitious project - and the most daunting - is a planned 4' x 5' map on a prepared stretched canvas.  I've painted on paper and wooden panels but have never painted on canvas, much less at this scale!  So when I learned about this class I figured it would be great assistance as I tackle my epic map.

My goal is to combine a medieval-in-feel map with modern images from my Camino photos.  I'll be using mixed media starting from a base of acrylic paint and adding collaged elements.

  •  I had already begun making my map before I learned of the class, so I'm going backwards and forwards at the same time

Unit 1 :: Questions

1. Why am I making this map?

  • This map will hang on the wall of my home and will be a visual reminder of a significant journey that we took.

2. Why am I the expert to create this map?

  • I was there!  And I will know what's important to put on the map to make it meaningful for us.

3. Who is my target audience?

  • The target is first the two of us who took the trip, my husband and I.  But when it hangs on the wall of our home the audience will also include visiting family & guests

4. What level of detail do I need to include?

  • a good portion of spain, but not all: the areas where we cyled and enough of the surrounding areas for context.
  • each of the cities on our route, definitely, but I'm still working out how many of the villages.  these points will be labeled, but not sure yet of the medium of the labels.
  • physical land features (rivers, mountains, plains) will be color coded
  • provincial boundearies
  • possibly all the major camino routes (in addition to the route we took)
  • I'm considering adding a strip with a chart of the elevations of our route

5. Do I want my final project to be printed or digital? How is it going to be used/ held? What other constraints do I need to keep in mind moving forward?

  • the final project will be painted, probably not digital.  its use is as memoir.
  • we've also talked about making the map interactive

6. “Dear classmates, I need your help/expertise/ guidance on how to.....”

  • I hava a lot of questions about paint, materials and technique.  For example, right now I'm wondering about glaze medium for acrylic paint

My inspirations/resources

- Here's my Pinterest "map it" board:

- When I travel, my favorite city maps are made by Red Maps:

  • http://www.redmaps.com
  • the Red Maps are elegant, intuitive, weatherproof, and portable.  I've never seen any ohter map that integrates the streets and the transport maps in a quickly understandable way.  I've used these maps to get around London, Paris, Berlin, and New York.

Unit 2 :: Hand Drawn Map exercise

- for our hand-drawn map exercise I drew my 10K bicycle route from memory.  when I compared it to google maps, it was actually surprisingly accurate.  I used soft pencil on graph paper.

Design process

- The base layer of my painted canvas will resemble a medieval/renaissance map.  Here are two examples:

  1. source:: http://s647.photobucket.com/user/tymphaios/media/Maps%20of%20Greece/MedievalmapNovaGraeciaomneseiusregi.jpg.html
  2.                   source::  http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/aboutisrael/history/pages/facts%20about%20israel-%20history.aspx

- For my big project, I want my map outlines to be fairly accurate, so I'm gridding my canvas to draw the outlines of spain, the major regions, and the locations of the cities & towns.  I printed out a modern country map of spain and drew grid lines on it, in the proportion that produced a 6" grid squares on the big canvas.  I'm also checking my work against some Camino maps that we used on the trip.

here's a rough pencil sketch that I drew on some old packing paper for planning purposes:

and here's the canvas after a few washes of the base color for the land and the sea:

I wasn't exactly trying for that parchment effect, but that's how it came out, so that's what I'm going to work with!

It will be a few more weeks until I am able to work on the canvas again.

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