A not so well hidden fact about me is that I’m pretty much obsessed with topo maps. I LOVE the lines, the curves, the symbols… In the summer I often will disappear out into the mountains for multiple day stretches with nothing but my backpacking gear and a USGS Topo map to gleefully navigate my way cross country. Nothing is quite as fun as relating the lines to the landforms… *sigh*
Well, how in the world does my wierd obsession Topographic maps relate to threadpainting you ask?
Well- A couple of weeks ago I was asked to return as a navigation instructor with the Sierra Club WTC (Wilderness Travel Course)…After a full weekend of pouring over Topographical maps with students and some down and dirty hands on instruction in Joshua Tree my mind was a jumble of lines, curves and happiness. It was only natural that when I sat down to finish the threadpainting of the Sierras that more than a little of the topo should slip into the style.
While not exactly true to an actual USGS Topo (otherwise the lines would run parallel and horizontal), I found myself inspired; using lines to define the contours, separating out the ravines and gullies from the ridges with sharp v’s of thread, making the trees, hills and mountains appear to separate & recede.
I love the idea of contour mapping with thread… It’s not a new idea, but learning to pull from outside the typical “artistic” field and use Topo maps as a guide has opened up new ways of seeing.