August 27, 2015
Recently, my friends Nicki and Rogie came to me with a request: “Ali, we need a map of our farm so visitors can find their way around.”
My friends are hosting workshops on equine education and will be moving from point to point around the property teaching things like pasture management, nutrition, hoof care and equi-bow therapy (translation: horse massage).
I’ve been to the farm many times, but have always had a glass of wine in my hand lending to a delightfully vague sense of my surroundings.
The first thing I said was, “Send me pics of all the buildings and a few animal shots and I’ll turn them into drawings.” Nicki roamed the property with her Samsung and sent an entire album of farm shots to my iPhone.
This is the garage where Rogie parks the tractors and has a man cave. That’s a chicken coop at the back.
This is one of many paddock shelters to protect the animals when the sun heats up their coats or raindrops start falling.
This is Sky.
This is the barn where Sky and her friends live, including this wacky character, Tucker the mini paint.
Don’t say the word “gingivitis” in front of him. (I’m kidding, Nicki takes great care of his teeth).
Tucker’s a little sensitive about the wandering eye.
Plug your nose, we’re going past the manure mound.
We’re so relieved the bees are back (for now).
I knew I’d need some trees, so I prepared a maple that I could duplicate dozens of times (like a Flintstone background).
I needed a few cedars too.
Nicki even planted a wildflower patch.
While I was waiting for my paint to dry, I said to Rogie, “Send me the Google Earth view of the paddocks and barns.” And he did. I drew in the fences in black and the gates in red with a digital stylus.
Looking things over, I decided a drawing of the farm would look better if I took the eye over the horizon. So I altered the image in Pixlr to create a vanishing point:
Then I created a base wash drawing:
Note how you can still see how the wetness of the watercolours created buckles and shadows on the paper. I brushed those out digitally, layered on my renderings of animals, trees and buildings and produced this final map:
This post was inspired by one of my favourite books, Austin Kleon‘s Show Your Work. If you think it’s imperative to hide your process from prying eyes, I encourage you to read this book and be open to changing your mind.