For a long time I’ve had a love affair with maps. This must stem from my childhood experiences sailing the BC coast and learning to read nautical charts. The charts have found their way into my ocean scape paintings in the form of collage and photocopy transfers. Though this early exposure to charts certainly accounts for a familiarity and understanding of maps and their symbols I have yet to pinpoint my fascination. I find them both interesting to study and aesthetically pleasing. I love the muted colours of sailing charts, the numbers indicating the ocean depth, the repetition of line and the arrows that indicate current.
This collage [shown left] was created in a visual journal that I kept during my Bachelor of Education program at UBC in 2008. The first page in a new sketchbook is always exciting and daunting. This image representing the start of my journey is what grew on that first sketchbook page.
It seems natural that I have been thinking again of mapping and journeys since I moved from Vancouver to Comox Valley a year ago. Maps are essential to newcomers. I have found myself cruising Google maps for driving directions and to locate services. Since I took up running last January, I have been using Google earth post-run to measure my distances through the neighbourhood and track my progress. I’ve used a variety of locally produced maps to find running and mountain biking trails. The valley has a phenomenal number of well kept mixed use trails.
So once again elements of mapping are entering into my artwork. I’ve continued the sketchbook project I started earlier this month though I haven’t been working daily as I had aimed to. I need to jumpstart my artwork practice again and keep myself engaged in creative activities through the long dark winter. This sketchbook is not one of those beautiful visual journals where every page turned reveals a completely new stand alone art piece. This book exists to quickly jot down ideas without feeling any pressure to necessarily make something pretty or fully realized. Perhaps it is baby steps back to painting as I search for a new core subject. In the sketches below you will see elements from charts. I also recognized after I’d done the sketches that the little barred paths are the wooden berms I find myself running across (not often riding as I’m a chicken on my bike) on the local trails. With the first page I was lost as to what to create – blank page syndrome. I thought of one of my Capilano College painting instructors, Marcus Bowcott, who always said that if you needed to pull a painting together, make sure to use a grid. If you look at the circles, which are the first elements that I painted, you’ll notice that they are loosely painted on a grid.