Maps, Materials & Fractals

I have thumbnailed various sketch ideas for possible layouts of a single piece of artwork as a “map”. None are quite what I want. I have been further researching different types and styles of art maps.  Qiu Zhijie and Roberta Faulhaber, maps of mind maps … to establish what the composition of my map might look like. It could be a map but not a traditional map, but abstract, fantasy – possibly an overall view of comparing tree branches/veins/arteries, roads, tree roots patterns. They are all very similar and I am thinking of ways to combine them.

I have so many ideas this week and was keen to get something properly creative onto paper. I have experimented with various patterns, from simple monoprinting with acrylics, and creating flowing flora and fauna loose patterns on deli papers and cartridge paper. I limited my colour palette to warm hues of apricot, golden yellow and magenta pink (which was too bright) The outcomes looked very amateur and not the look I want. I  will test some watercolour washes next in similar colours, and test blues and greens but they may be too close to underlying map colour to be a visually interesting contrast.

Using a dip pen to draw with watercolour, black ink and high flow acrylic inks,  and also mark making with sticks and twigs, I achieved some good effects and made some preliminary sketches of images I would like to use which convey the sense of general wellbeing. Some of my mark making and monoprinting was done onto deli paper, but there is a sharp crease down the middle of each sheet. I will test tissue paper next, however I think this will be too delicate and will probably tear when wet. I will order some extra tough wet strength tissue paper which is used in making paper lampshades and test this.

The images I want to incorporate are a dip pen outline of an ethereal female face, with flowing hair, eyes closed, peacefully meditating. I also want to include ferns, sea shells, waves, stars, tree branches and sun rays.

My test drawings are too cluttered, there are too many components that I want to include. My next step is to be selective and whittle down the images which work best combined in the composition. Should I create one piece of gallery artwork in order to fit everything in – how big though ? A3, A2?  Will the images lose their charm if they are too big? Will they look lost? How will I scan the final artwork or photograph it digitally if it’s so large….

I really need to test more to establish which patterns, and what mediums to use. How do I also bring in ephemera into it as well? It feels like a “supermarket sweep” at the moment, there are so many things I want to put in my trolley!

I bought an old ordnance survey map of Bournemouth and photocopied sections of it, onto which I tested a whitewash: I used white gouache layers, scumbled white acrylic and paint, and washes white acrylic high flow ink. The paint layers in all three were not thick enough and the paper became very wet. There is a risk of damaging the map if I don’t get the correct consistency for the paint wash. It needs to be opaque enough to see the map through it, but not so that the maps overwhelms the rest of the images. I used Nori paste (very much like wallpaper paste) to glue the paper down. I have previously used Pritt stick but this is a bit too patchy and not particularly long lasting. The Nori paste crinkled the paper, despite weighting it down, Golden matt medium worked well.

I need to keep reminding myself  – what is my aim:

Mapping the sensory effects of wellbeing on the mind

Or to visualise the sensory effects of nature on the mind through mindfulness for wellbeing.

My next steps:

  • to establish what my background will be
  • to establish what form the piece will take – book or large piece of work?
  • To establish what details to incorporate

So far I think my idea is too dry – does it necessarily have to be a literal map?

I have also found a superb poem by Jack Kerouac “On How to Meditate”. I think I would like to include a mindful poem, or lines from one in my piece, and will research poetry further.