Monday, April 13, 2009

Lands of Magic, and Their Stories

Lands of Magic, 8" x 10", india ink and watercolor on paper

This is my newest painting, although there are others coming on its heels. I am so happy with this one. Most of my maps are relatively large scale, in that they show the details close-up, but I am also fond of small scale maps, and the broader mysteries they suggest.

As I draw, I like to think about the borders between the lands, and how they developed. Were they peacefully decided? Or formed by natural barriers, such as mountains or rivers? Or are they contentious? Are there skirmishes or battles? Or active trade?

I like to think about the economies, as well. I imagine the inhabitants on the coast taking their boats out in the early morning to catch fish, and the farmers plowing their fields, and the witches selling a potion or two at a roadside market. I think about the education, the universities, the particular brand of magic or enchantment that is endemic to that place.

I even think about things like the right-of-way access the inland countries do or don't have to the ocean. I think this comes from real-life encounters with places like the Harbor Gateway, a strip of land that connects the bulk of Los Angeles to San Pedro, which was annexed to give L.A. access to the harbor (where I used to row, in college).

And all this time, I think about the people and their cultures. Do the people wear bright clothing or do they go more for practicality? Are they proud of their history? Do they even know their history? What do they eat? What are their holidays and celebrations? What stories do they tell? How did they get to this place and why do they call it what they do? How did, for example, the name Alluria come to be? What makes them happy?

Most of the worldbuilding that goes on in my head isn't expressed directly on my maps, and that's fine. I like that they offer an interactive experience; I want viewers to be able to tell their own stories from my maps.

Still, I do plan to write some guidebooks to these lands, for the discerning traveler, in the future.

In the meantime, prints of this map will soon be up in my shop. Wishing you happy travels!


aquariann said...

Fascinating entry! Lovely questions you ponder while you draw your maps. I'm sure your guidebooks will be wonderful!!

DJ said...

Beautiful print. In fact, I own unicornia & it's up at my work :)

As a girl who works in cartography as her day job, I have to say that you do the best north arrows!