Drawing the Champagne regions

I was approached by Ten Speed Press (part of Penguin Random House) to draw maps for a book project on the topic of Champagne. They were specifically interested in a set of maps detailing the different areas where the grapes are grown, and their geographic features.

The project initially required a few sets of sketches before we came to a solution that incorporated the level of information they were looking for while still focusing on the craft and texture of the maps.

This was one of the most didactic projects I’ve been contracted to do. My niche is typically abstract maps that evoke the geography of a place for aesthetic scene-setting purposes, but for this I had to balance clarity and legibility of information with aesthetic style.


In the end, the project comprised 8 maps (7 different regions and 1 map of how they all fit together). The visual and didactic style was fairly consistent across the 7 regions, despite some fairly large differences in geographic scale, and that style was echoed in the overall map as well.


It was an excellent experience to map something with that much specificity, and I’m glad we were able to work together on it. You can find the finished book on Penguin’s website here.

Central Park series: data-driven artwork

In this small series, I worked with the axidraw pen plotter and Processing to imagine the new growth happening in early spring in Central Park.

From the warmth of my room, I researched March weather data in Central Park as well as geotagged posts of spring flowers, outsourcing my reference-gathering to the data of others.

I made some simple plots of the weather data using Processing, comparing humidity and temperature by date and plotting the points as small circles.

Cloud cover was additionally represented by adding rings around the circles (the rule was to add one extra ring if cloud cover was between 30% and 60%, two if it was anything over 60%).

With the axidraw, I could then draw the plots accurately and precisely using waterproof artist’s pen directly onto watercolor paper.

I drew lines to create dimensional relationships between the data points, and then “grew” the flowers I’d been researching from home out of the spaces between the data points.

The data formed a “garden” to situate the flowers, and their pattern was dependent on its form, as with the growth anticipated in the season.

The data forms them and gives a structure to their layout, just like the forces represented by that data enable the form of our gardens year over year.

Aleataxonomy series

“Aleataxonomy”, my shorthand from “aleatoric” (created from random action) and “taxonomy” (referring to the classification of the elements I use in drawings), is a recent series based specifically on limiting drawings to randomly-generated numbers of elements in sequence. The project takes on the problem of end condition, or “when is the drawing done”, that I’ve been dealing with since working on series like Schema (one of the first that departed from my historic end condition of “whenever the pattern goes to the edge”). My hypothesis was that even with an artificial end condition, these drawings wouldn’t end up looking unfinished because of the conscious and subconscious aesthetic evaluation I unavoidably engage in as I draw.

Procedurally, I would first figure out what types of patterns would work for this process, break down their individual procedures into steps and ranges, and then write up a script in Processing that would render out random values (within the range) each time it ran.

For some of these processes I made intermediate sketches to determine how I should balance out the ranges of values before I could write the randomizing script.

Once I had a solid idea of the steps and ranges of values, I wrote scripts that would choose a random number from a range for each step and, critically, read the choices back to me in clear step-by-step instructions. Much of “aleatoric” art has to do with physical randomization tools like dice, but since I had access to coding text output and random value generation in Processing, that made it possible to write custom ranges in absolutely whatever value I might want.

Once I had the readout, my task was to follow the instructions to the letter (often using tally marks on scratch paper to record how many of each mark I’d completed).

– Example of a first step. The result of the Processing “dice roll” is at the bottom of the black rectangle below the code. (For those following along at home, the code that requests that printout is println())

– Process for a full drawing

There are many ways I can take this kind of process. One of the options I wanted to pursue was to try using the same exact values to make multiple drawings. Would they be the same, indistinguishable, or somewhere in the middle?

One of the unexpected upshots of this project was learning just how many houses or lines I might be able to draw in a small space without realizing. Even when I was dealing with scales like 6”x8” and large numbers like 150-250, it turns out that’s barely enough “house” marks to look inhabited.

In general, I’m glad I indulged this impetus to take programmatic drawing to a bit of an extreme. It’s another tool I can use to determine when a piece is “finished”; it allowed me to explore aesthetic balances that I might not have chosen to work with before; and in a way it gives me more confidence in the persistence of my artistic style.

New York mini residency

Over Thanksgiving I took about two weeks away from my home studio practice and set up a mini residency project. It was basically a residency dry-run: I was interested in figuring out what kinds of tools, materials and setup I’d need. I definitely learned a lot in that regard, and I also made some drawings that pushed my work in new directions.
IMG_6853 IMG_6906 IMG_6913 IMG_6984 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

CSArt Project Completion

(My biggest project of the summer was CSArt—I’ve shared more about the project and work-in-progress updates here and here)

Last week was the CSArt Harvest Party, where collectors who bought shares could pick up their bags full of 9 different original artworks. It was fun to meet some of the shareholders and to see the other artists again after we’d been working hard on our projects for so long. I’m most excited to see my pieces all together!

Once I finished all 50, we scanned them and put them up on a page of this site here:

emilygarfield.com/iterative-landscape

Individually, each is a unique map of an imagined place, but since I drew all the roads to connect to the next piece in the series, when they’re all together it’s a very different object. There are islands and shapes that crop up between adjoining maps that I didn’t even anticipate. Go explore at that link to see more!

map line crop

 

Paper Teapots: Map and Pop-up

I’ve been very busy at the gallery lately getting everything ready for the teapot exhibition that just opened. Artists working in all different media submitted teapot sculptures both functional and conceptual. Unfortunately, and sort of ironically, I was too busy with the administrative end to have much time for my own teapots, but I made small versions of my two ideas: a map teapot, and an urban pop-up teapot.
The city pop-up one was made in the same way as the pop-ups I recently had at M55, but instead of two blocks, there were about eight different sections, including a handle and a spout.

The map teapot was planned out like a globe, with an inserted spout and a lid on top. I started with the same ink blot technique as I would for a flat map, with a fork around where the spout would be inserted, and then drew around it, making sure that the roads would be continuous once the whole thing was sewed up.

 And here they are installed in the exhibition: