See Places Creatively and Put Images to the Landscapes of Your Mind
Are you “ well-grounded”? Do you “know your turf ”? What does it mean to “feel at home”? All these phrases stress the desire to know where one is in the universe — physically, spiritually and creatively. Without a doubt, a sense of place goes way beyond what GPS can provide. The following geography art prompts will help you explore that all-important sense, from seeing the places around you in a more inspired way and to ‘map’ your inner landscape with your art.
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Throw scale out the window and create a map that puts large the places with significance to you. Make small (or cast in a new light) the places that aren’t your favorites.
Use personal symbolism as point of interest on your map. For example, your favorite flowers in bloom for a place that represents good vibes and great times. Use the techniques from Paint Watercolor Flowers to render your blooms just the way you want.
Try a diﬀerent type of illustrated “map” — one of a nongeographic space, such as your dreams or fears. You could also chart a nongeographic route, like your thought process when planning dinner.
This is a great chance to explore mixed media, with the addition of collage pieces, stickers or photographs. Also think of a map in a new way — more of a flowchart or a series of “routes” intertwining.
#3 Make Sense of It All
If you typically lean toward representational art, try going abstract to convey what’s powerful and memorable to you about a particular place. For inspiration, use all your senses.
Think of scents, sounds, colors and textures you associate with that place. Make your depiction as rich as you can by simply staying attentive to all the things evoked by the place you have in mind.
#4 Your Everyday Life
The places and structures that your locality is most known for may not be those that have the most meaning to you. Draw or paint a place or landmark in your community that conveys your more personal, everyday experience.
A nearby monument may not inspire you as much as the park where you walk your dog every day or the playground you visit with your grandchildren. What are the places that are touchstones for you in your day-to-day life? Give those places their due.
#5 Time Carries On
Cities and landscapes change over time. Create an artwork that suggests the passage of time for a speciﬁc location.
Watercolorist John Salminen painted a notorious landmark in Duluth over the course of forty years, changing dramatically the look and feel of each rendition.
#6 The Final Frontier
The universe is a big place. How would you depict a planet, the stars or the vastness of outer space? U.S. government-owned images on the NASA website are copyright-free, so you can copy them at will (but check the credit lines to confirm government ownership).
Take inspiration from science fiction to astronomy fact when creating this larger-than-life map. Ask yourself, what are the ways you can depict true vastness and the mysterious places beyond Earth?
#7 Let Repetition Reign
Create a series of works showing the same scene done in a variety of media, techniques or viewing angles. You can add to the series through the year to include diﬀerent seasons.
#9 Urban Attitude
Rudolf Stussi paints representationally, but his cityscapes seem to sway with the rhythms of life. What techniques can you use to give a cityscape a sense of vitality?
#10 Where’s the Mood Ring?
What mood are you in today? If that mood were a place, what would it look like? Is it a place you know or a composite of several places? Is it a real place or somewhere dreamy?
Draw or paint that place — or build a model of it.
Article by Holly Davis and first printed in Artists Magazine. Get your subscription now, and let the artistic inspiration and instruction greet you all year long.