I Am Here

I love maps.  There is just something about them, something about knowing where you are.  The possibilities of where you can go.  Where you have been.  I’ve been collecting maps and even drawing rough maps of my local hiking and riding trails for years.  When we go on road trips, I’m the navigator.  I like to see where we are heading and plan out the best routes. I’ve even dreamt about maps.

Later in life, I took classes on map making, but they were mostly to learn how to use Geographical Informational software, a very complex program that’s replaced traditional drawn maps.  GIS is an amazing piece of nerdvana map geekdom and while fun to use and play with, doesn’t fill my visceral map making needs.  I’ve been thinking about incorporating maps into my art for some time now.  Planning out how and what to map… what I want to show, what kind of information I am trying to impart.  But painting doesn’t really work the same way map making does.  I generally try not to think or plan too much when I am painting.  Exactly the opposite kind of cerebral activity that happens when one is making a map.

A map is ultimately about visual information used to guide someone other than the map maker.  It has to stand alone and be clear and precise.  A painting doesn’t always have all the answers… it may have more questions than solutions.  The two activities seemed to be at odds with each other.  So I was stuck with not knowing where to begin and what I wanted it to look like.

Finally it occurred to me, to try something.  Anything.  To just have a leap of faith… and see what happens.

Here’s what happened:

I Am Here.  A map of my trails in Alpine, OR

I Am Here. A map of my trails.

I started with the roads and trails.  They aren’t to scale and they aren’t accurate by any means… instead they originate from my home (the large orange circle) and they sometimes follow features and sometimes correspond to actual roads.  I wasn’t trying to make a map for anyone else, this map follows an idea of where I am when I hike or ride.  Then I added where I remember the water ways to be… they aren’t accurate either.  The swirls are back, I used them to show differences in vegetation as well as elevation.  They aren’t specific and static, instead they mean different things in different places.  But they mean something to me.

This is a personal map.  And perhaps that’s where I need to go when I marry my geeky map nerd to my far out painter muse. Just close my eyes and jump!