Landscapes are amazing

Frits’ logbook 22 October 2017

Day reading landscapes through watercolor painting maps

Text and watercolor by Frits Ahlefeldt

Some say the places we walk through and their stories can do a lot to define who we are. For the last few days I’ve looked at old maps. Maps from the last centuries, printed on paper. Maps that don’t know where you are and can’t be neither scrolled, updated or zoomed… Good old paper maps

Some changes in the way we see reality are not gradual but sudden, and the change from a map you follow, to a map that follows you ( digital maps ) is one of them.

I got the huge map book really cheap in an old kind of story, the kind where you walk in through the door. The map book is huge and well-researched, but the shop couldn’t sell it. “nobody buy paper maps anymore” the old tall man in the map store told me. “It is all apps now” he said. On the floor where roles of maps, sold so cheap you could use them to plaster walls with.

Caspian Sea trail Watercolor map illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt
Watercolor of map of caspian Sea – Frits Ahlefeldt

For many centuries it was different, maps were precious pieces of compact knowledge and understanding. There is a long tradition of how to make hand-drawn maps. Those the old explorers depended on – hand-drawn maps of mountain-ranges, deserts, rivers, jungles and coastlines.

I’ve sat hand-painting up coastlines today in watercolor, as a faint shadow of that world. Paintings like the one pictured right here.

Working to get to know the shapes and contours of legendary places, where people live their whole lives in tiny parts of the drawing.

Places defining generations of human destinies, places I had no idea about how looked before today. Mimicking making land-art in gigantic proportions with a tiny brush, seeing Mountain ranges and rivers flow out of the paper.

The best part is that when I put the paper away, these images stay with me even when I close my eyes,  and I don’t any faster way to understand these landscapes, than by simply drawing them up, the best I can.

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