Thursday, March 29, 2012


Vivi-Mari Carpelan: Part of a treasure map for a women's creativity group, copyright 2012

Thanks to kind contacts, I was recommended as the kind of artist who would be able to do a treasure map for a women's creativity group. This is run by Arts Care here in Wales. There wasn't much time so I only had one session of "critique" which I received by mail and telephone before I finalised the draft. I started out with a collage from 2008 in mind - "Distant Shores", so I did the background by hand in the same style. While I could have used maps already in existence, I felt that this would lend the map some personality but also keep it simple.

Vivi-Mari Carpelan; "Distant Shores" copyright 2008

Thankfully, I had quite a bit of copy right free images in mind already, so my long experience as a collage artist was helpful in this case. I suggested a treasure trove from a book of esoteric imagery because the group was doing stuff related to Tarot cards, as well as a woman with a water jug. The former has a Phoenix attached to it, and this was well received. The latter was found  superfluous. The decision makers wanted a treasure trove that was open and overflowing with symbols of creativity, especially musical instruments. At this point I wasn't quite sure how much I would be doing in Photoshop... what I did know was that it wasn't going to be that easy to fill up the trove. Though it would be good to represent all art forms, instruments were probably the best elements to use due to the scale and the relative scale between the elements, as well as the imagery available in my library. The finished maps were going to be only size A5.

For those who don't know how complex the process can be, here's an example: I had to scan the chest, changing some of it in Photoshop, then print it out and change the appearance, find objects to put in there, scan them, scale them (which is hard to do on the computer) and change them in Photoshop, think about the relationship between them, print them out, cut them out by hand, think how to position them, glue them by hand, then scan again and elaborate (i.e. fix the density of the blacks and make the white whiter), then scan in Photoshop, then add them to the circle with the bird... and so on. 
I ended up doing most of the map in Photoshop but most of the open treasure trove was done by hand. I knew the bit done by hand was going to be quite time consuming and difficult for me to execute, and I was right. Also - because I don't have a scanner that works with my relatively new HP laptop (Windows 7) I have to borrow Martin's Spanish tablet PC in order to scan anything, and this is always extra hassle. I had infuriating issues with the fact that I don't understand that much Spanish and his PC is getting old and tired. My PC also tends to run out of memory, so I'm learning to be more diligent about saving my work. Except that there's a bug in Photoshop Elements 10 that forces you to save each version separately. Big sigh!

By the end of the day I omitted some more references to maps. They wanted it quite simple, and to be honest - although I enjoyed most of the process there is also only so much time one can spend on a project for a week's food money.

I have received the feedback that the overall look is good but that there are too few references to all of the arts. The map has been sent to the rest of the team for review. Martin suggested put an inkwell at the front, which I have already scanned so that should be a reasonably easy thing to do.

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