Year of Creative Habits 2017: The Curious Cartographer

topographical-iceIt took a while for me to settle on this year’s creative habit. I first leaned towards a doll project. As a pushback against post-election ugliness, I wanted to do something that reminded me of childhood, something with an element of pretty, of sweet.

But, in the way of creative projects, signs revealed to me what I would do instead. Signs like ice at the edge of the beaver pond that Oskar and I cross almost daily. Ice that looks a bit like a topographical map.

If maps are on your mind. And guess what? They’ve been on my mind. Maps as a way of telling stories, maps as a way to remember, maps as family history and myth.

And so I am excited to embark on my 2017 Year of Creative Habits project: The Curious Cartographer*.

Here’s the goal: each week I’ll research and produce a map that tells a story from my life, my family history, world events, my imagination. To ensure my success, I’ve set up a weekly system, starting on Saturdays:

Day 1: Decide what story to map and decide on a map style.

Day 2: Determine any landmarks to be included and gather reference pictures. Make reference map if mapping actual places.

Day 3: Sketch landmarks.

Day 4: Draw map; add color.

Day 5: Add landmarks and any additional color

Day 6: Ink and letter.

What about day 7? I’m leaving myself a little wiggle room in case any of the drawing, inking, or lettering takes longer than I expect. My goal is to produce 52 maps this year, and I’m sure this system will change and be refined.

Want to see my first map?


You can follow my progress on Instagram–I’ll post every day using #curiouscartographer2017. And you can check out other Year of Creative Habits projects here.

Tell me about your creative projects for 2017, willya?





*Not drawn to scale.

Lesson from a Failed Project

Remember that Postcard Project back in the innocent days of 2015? Maybe one landed in your mailbox? That was me, making a thing every day and feeling pretty dang proud of myself a year ago.

qb2Remember last year, how I purchased a cool daily agenda, came up with a kickin’ project name, and then failed? Well, you might not remember the Quotidian Bones fail because I never really talked about it. I kept hoping I’d get my QB mojo back. I let the unexpected loss of a good friend derail me. I gave in to the glum, the ennui that sometimes follows loss. I’m not here to bring you down, though. Nope. It’s a new year, and there’s a new project.

A project born from the lessons learned by 2016’s fail. It’s not like I didn’t meet up with loss in 2015. The difference was that in 2015 I used my project to help me through the loss. Last year? I didn’t want to tell the stories of losing Kurt. I shied away from them. I have weeks where I drew a thick black line on the page.

And you know what? I wish I’d kept doing that. Kept making marks. Because I know eventually I would have been bored by the thick black lines and would have wanted to make something else. That’s how freewriting works, and I’m a fan of freewriting. Even if I have nothing to write, I just keep writing. Sometimes I write “this is dumb” a zillion times before my mind softens and something more interesting emerges. In 2017 I want to remember to transfer the principles of freewriting to my project.

Oh, the project? It’s a doozy! I’ll tell you all about it on Friday (the Quotidian Bone picture is a hint!).