How did I come up with this idea?
The department of Fish and Wildlife gave me a big stack of film negatives, they had transitioned to digital and were cleaning out their archives, the negatives they gave me were going to be thrown away. (Yay recycling!)
They were heavy, some were scratched and bent, yellowed and faded; many of them dated back to the 1950's and 1960's. The negatives were the maps used to print the paper ones we are so familiar with. They were beautiful and different and I had about 500! I didn't want to throw them away and I didn't exactly know what to do with them but I knew I had to do something.
I spent the next 6 months playing with them off and on, I painted on them, cut them into shapes, folded them into folded things and took a silver pen and followed the lines until I had highlighted an entire map.
Drawing on the lines was fun; it was meditative and it was beautiful to watch the black lines turn to silver or gold, and then to my final choice, white..
The "a ha!" moment hit when I realized I could find shapes in the lines and only color those lines in. My first drawing was of a really rough elephant, then a rabbit, a bear, a one arm dancer (learning curve) and finally a wild stag with wild antlers. I had all these pretty drawings but it wasn't until I decided to frame them with my photography in the background that I knew I had created something really unique.
All the background images are original photography and I've finally used up all the recycled maps, now I also create all the maps you see in my work today based on USGS and historical map archives.
And I can make a custom piece from a custom location for you