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June 2016

May 2016

The Hand Drawn Map: Vancouver Island Journeys and Memories

Hand drawn maps have the potential for telling colorful stories. The participants in my classes bring personal histories to their work stations and proceed to illustrate these in marvelous ways. Often surprising themselves with their newfound ability to draw personal maps, they draw me into their worlds during the course of the workshop.

This process was especially evident in the group of ten who spent two days in our bright, Sidney BC "studio" which was also one end of the local Community Art Centre of the Saanich Peninsula (Also called the Tulista Arts Centre). Organized by Sherley Gordon Edey, a fine art photographer, my workshop "The Hand Drawn Map" was held in conjunction with an exhibit by local artists: Know Your Place. Sherley did a magnificent job curating and publicizing the exhibit as well as the workshop. Thank you, Sherley! I loved being an active, imported part of your brainchild.

For this workshop I created a template map of Vancouver Island. Why? Because the actual classroom time was relatively short so I wanted to reduce the amount of time spent on a starting place. Most of the students did use the starter outline map which was printed in faint blue on Arches hot press watercolor paper. Because each template map was filled in uniquely, there was a lot of delightful individuality. Here are several of the maps shown at various stages of completion. 


Beautiful even before she adds color, Charlotte G. Riemann drew a memoir map of four adventures, or "MsAdventures" she had with her friends. Charlotte designed pull-out medallions to feature places and mishaps. Her illustrated title cartouche, stippling in the bodies of water and the compass add drawn texture and information.


Jean Weller did several map studies during the course of the two days. The map on the lower left shows a road trip route she once took on the south section of the island.
Gretchen Frith illustrated her map with places, animal species, geographical elements, a key, and a colorful, themed compass rose.


Inspired to make a more abstract map, Megan Van Campen chose a design approach featuring the island's cities as hot points connnected by a network of lines. The luminous towns and cities are represented as the island's treasures.


Drawn with delicate color and careful labeling, Danica Gleave's map shows her family's favorite features as they traveled to Savary Island. Danica's use of varied sizes of circular pullouts is effective. A vintage-style cartouche lends a bit of fantasy to this map.


Deborah LeFrank rendered multiple medallions (she coined this name for the circular pull-outs) with small illustrations and place names. She also included journal notes at key locations. Her lettering and compass rose reveal her skill with drawing and lettering. When Deborah finishes the watercoloring of her map I will post a photo of it here. Please scroll down to see a page from Deborah's detailed journal notes from the workshop.
Jocelyn Curry Workshop April 2016 Sketchnotes-3
Not only did Deborah keep this illustrated notebook of our workshop, but she sent the pdf of all the pages to every member of the group. What teacher wouldn't be over-the-moon to receive such a document! Thank you, Deborah.


At the end of the weekend, I was given a card with personal messages from each participant. I saved the reading of this card for when I was on the ferry returning to the U.S. the following day. The sentiments meant so much to me (thank you, all). At the beginning of this post I mentioned the stories that maps can tell. Here is one of the messages I received:

The weekend felt like one wonderfully engaging meditation. Thank you so much for your interest in and encouragement of our stories...

This group was exceptional. Not all of their maps are shown here but all the work done was executed with their full focus and personal investment. I hope to see some of you again as we keep charting our lives and illustrating them with maps!


My trip to Sidney, BC to teach this workshop was my first visit to this beautiful place. Walking along the sea wall was one of the fine pleasures I enjoyed after class was over each day. Here is one of the artful plantings along the path.

Finally, I will be teaching another map workshop up at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center (ELC) located in the North Cascades National Park on Diablo Lake (off of Highway 20 east of I-5) on June 24, 25, and 26 (2016). The ELC is an unforgettable place where participants are residents on a beautiful campus at the edge of the wilderness. Yet, it is an easy drive from many points. To read more about the Institute, and to register for this class (academic credit is also available), please click here.