Monday, 12 April 2010

Journal Keeping: Making Your Own Maps

What had started out (with good intentions) as a weekly post on keeping journals, somehow managed to turn into . . . well, no posts about journal keeping. I blame this on spending too much time making journals, and not enough time doing much else. SO, in an effort to continue doing this fun series, but at a pace that won't start to overwhelm me, I've decided to switch to posting the second Monday of every month. That's the plan!

To start things off (or pick things back up), this month's post will be on making your own maps. Don't worry, this doesn't require any special skills or math equations, it's about sketching out little maps of your own personal spaces.

I was first inspired to try this after reading a profile on Japanese engineer Masayoshi Nakano in a book I love, Drawing From Life, The Journal as Art by Jennifer New. After retiring, Nakano would walk around his town and pay attention to what he saw. He would then go home and draw out intricate maps noting where things were, often accompanied by small, black and white photos. His maps are made with an engineer's precision and were intended to help him better understand his roots in his old age.
I have no where near his precision or skill, but I do have a love of maps, and I was drawn to the idea of how making a map yourself can be used to remember certain details about a place.

Here are a few examples of how I tried to use this technique. This first one was made in a museum on my recent trip to Ecuador. The gallery space was so unique, I couldn't think of any other way to describe it, so I drew a map. It's a pretty crude sketch, but it does bring me right back there.
Another attempt was done of the yard of the apartment where I lived at the time, a sort of aerial view. I think this would be a great idea for a gardener, noting what is where, what is blooming when and how it changes through the year.
The last one was another sort of aerial view, this one of an area around a lake we often visit. I know it seems full of unimportant information, but reading it now brings me right back to that place. By labeling all these little things, the supplies we brought, books we were reading, I feel like this little moment in time was saved, and captured in a way I never could with just a camera.
Don't think you have to be a geographer or cartographer to make a map, making your own can get your creative juices flowing, and can help capture a moment and feeling in a unique way.

More to come on May 10, I promise! Happy Journaling!


Lizzie said...

That's such an interesting idea to me... I never thought of using a map to record an event. It seems pretty obvious, now that you've suggested it!

Natalie said...

what a great idea! I love the notion of personalizing space by mapping it, or even mapping at the pace with which you originally passed through the space, giving the details the same length of attention as they are redrawn

karastefa said...

This is so true, how a sketch like this can take you back to the moment. You're awesome, Kristin - keep it up! I can't get your "Journaling for Creativity" class out of my head; need one of those in my neck of the woods here. Will have to talk with you about your teaching experiences when we see each other. Also, will have to add this blog to my Reader now. (I'll sound like Beavis here, but I had to chuckle at your Peita comment.)

B├╝chertiger said...

So nice to have this series back! :-) I am already looking forward to the next post!

I have been using maps of various kind in my journals for a long time. But I never paid any attention to this fact, and if you had asked me, whether I put anything but text in my journal, I probably would have answered "no".

It is fun to see it mentioned here, makes me reflect my own journalling practise. (Maybe I should leaf again through the pages and see what else I can find there...)

Renie said...

I am very inspired by this idea -- what a great theme for an entire exhibit of handmade books! Even if it's a map of imagination...

Maybe for our next paper swap we could exchange maps -- one side of the sheet our map and the other blank for the receiver to use as space for their thoughts and musings...

Katie said...

Have you heard of the Hand Drawn Map Association? You can submit hand drawn maps to them, and they'll feature some of the best ones on their website. I believe they're even coming out with a book soon. You can check out their website here: