Some of my time recently has been taken up with mapping Rome. I mentioned before, that I belong to a very active online sketching group. Our most recent activity has been a collaborative map of Rome. The sections were allocated randomly, and although I had hoped for the place where I used to live, I was lucky enough to get a section including the area in Trastevere, where I went sketching with Kelly Medford last September.
Well, how to approach it? I printed out many maps of the area and decided to abstract it a bit. I traced the main streets, so that it would match up at the borders, then drew on some of the narrower streets as borders, for my cubes. Yes, I started with Cubism, but to get an element of realism, I needed the trees and the shadows, so it is a mish-mash really. I washed on the main blocks of colour very lightly in watercolour, then continued with watercolour pencils. I was working at 20cm square, and it took some time to get it all on. Then I had to address the colour balance and tonal values. I used my Workable Fixative, then another layer, and another and another until I was satisfied.
I had to make a decision about text, and decided to name the main thoroughfares, so that meant another spray and lightening them up to get some contrast. In my square I didnt have any major ‘sights’ though there were churches and a fish market. I considered symbols, but decided to keep it simple,as the symbols would have needed to balance across the image.
You can look at a very large on of this map if you click on it.
As the images started to come through from the other participants, I was quite concerned how different mine was. But as you see it all worked out in the end. Three squares have been done with Photoshop. We had a few wires crossed because of the way we set about it, but it was a learning experience. All that is ironed out now, and when we do Paris soon, it will work really well.
The group who were involved in the Rome map are sketchers, and I was interested to see that the majority of people ‘sketched the map’, whereas I approached it as an ‘art map’. It didn’t enter my head to sketch the map. I have done a couple of maps before, here and here. I am not sure where my interest in maps started, perhaps with a webinar by Jill K. Berry. I bought her book Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Mapmaking to take with me on my ipad when I travel. I also follow her blog. Another place to learn about mapping is one of the very inexpensive courses on Skillshare. It is called “Map making: learn to communicate places beautifully”, and has been prepared by Anne Dittmeyer who is well known for her blog pret-a-voyager.com.