Monday, March 5, 2012

Beautiful Maps

Are you the kind of adventurous traveller who dreams of going on an African safari or a trek through India? Or are you a quieter sort of traveller who delights in a garden tour of the English countryside?  No matter which kind of travel experience you enjoy, if you love to travel you probably love maps.  Do you gaze at them and see myriad opportunities for traveling to distant parts of the world?  Do you also find beauty in the older, vintage ones?  Chances are good that you would probably love to have a beautiful hand-painted map made for you that documents your very special journey. This is exactly what my talented friend Connie Brown creates at Redstone Studios in the town of Durham, Connecticut.

The map featured above was done for a client to document a memorable trip to East Africa.  The client is an accomplished nature photographer and supplied Connie with photos of wild animals and other details of the trip, including a quote about Africa from the writer Ernest Hemingway.  This is a map to be treasured, not only as a representation of the location of a magnificent trip, but also as a beautiful work of art to display in one's home. The photos below show some of the exquisite details that were included on this map.

Quote from Ernest Hemingway and beautiful paintings of the animals

Photo of giraffes that the client gave to Connie and Connie's artistic rendering below

In the photo above notice the map's border which is based on a beaded Maasai bracelet design and the compass rose which is inspired by a Maasai necklace.  These details contribute to the beauty and personal meaning of this project. The colors Connie has used throughout are so appealing -- the yellows, greens, blues and browns all work together well and create such a pleasing result.

More images of animals in the borders and gorgeous close-up of the regions in Africa that are featured

Connie is a cartographer and enjoys the marriage of art and science that exists in map making.  Her maps are accurate and also beautiful.  She has an interest in the elaborate elements found in Renaissance maps, such as borders, cartouches, elaborate lettering and illustrations.  These are features that add a beauty and vintage quality to her work. 

The list of maps that Redstone Studios has made over the years reads like a travel book of short stories:

A journey that a couple took to China to adopt their infant daughter and bring her home

The annual vacation that a family takes to their favorite lake in the Oregon Cascades

A trip that a family took to Africa to visit their son when he was in the Peace Corps

The travels of a couple who circled the globe at the equator, looking at animal species

The routes of a retired submarine captain

Civil War experiences depicted for the great-grandchildren of soldiers

A tiger reserve in India done for a documentary filmmaker

A wedding week in Tuscany

A private pilot's trip from Nantucket to Cape Town 

An antique car-rally in British Columbia

A bird watcher's trip to Antarctica 

You can imagine how many personal narratives and family history would be contained in the stories of these trips. These are tales of geography and the human spirit.


If I were to commission a map from Redstone Studios, I can think of three ideas:
1) My garden tour of the Cotswolds in England
2) A literary landscape of England featuring the locations of my favorite writers 
3) A trip to Italy to trace the footsteps of my ancestors, born in Rome and Naples  (I haven't made this trip yet, but want to)

What trip would you like documented if you were to commission one of these maps?  Are you an adventuresome traveller or a traveller who likes to return to favorite places? 

"The past lives on, in art and memory, but it is not static:  it shifts and changes as the present throws its shadows backwards.  The landscape also changes, but far more slowly; it is a living link between what we were and what we have become."
--  Margaret Drabble,  "A Writer's Britain" 

Wouldn't it be amazing to have the landscapes of our lives, the ones that really made a difference, memorialized in maps such as those made by Redstone Studios?


  1. What a great idea! I don't travel much, but it would be fantastic to have one of these lovely maps to commemorate the few trips I do take.

  2. These are lovely works of art unlike most of what I typically see. I can only imagine what some of the maps you listed must look like! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I think I'm both - adventurous, but also love to return to familiar places. Our trip to East Africa is the one I'd have commissioned. I have so many great photographs, etc. from the trip - it would be a lovely, visual memory. What great gifts they'd make also, for a really special occasion.

  4. Hello Sunday

    I just love the creativity here of the maps. As your new follower, I am thrilled to have found your blog.

    Thank you for visiting and for your kind words. I look forward to knowing you.

    Helen Tilston

  5. What beautiful maps and incredible, unique keepsakes of a trip. I have loved maps ever since I was a child. Every time we drove from Providence, R.I. to New York , to visit my grandparents, I would sit in the back seat of the car, and follow our journey on a AAA road map. I have always loved to navigate. Knowing where you are physically and having a good sense of where I am physically, and spatially, in the world, is very satisfying to me. I'm sure because it has always been so much harder, emotionally, to gauge my exact location. However, I have to agree with Kathy, I would love a map of our trip to East Africa, based on some of our pictures. The illustrations you showed took me right back to the Map Room, in the Vatican. There are walls of huge illustrated maps of Italy and her different regions, and the Mediterranean. It's utterly spell binding.I will checkout your talented friend in more detail. Bravo.

  6. I've come back to this a few times already, Sunday, just admiring and appreciating this map, and the ones on the site. Exquisite. If I would to commission one of these maps, I think it would be of our trips to Vermont, once in Autumn, once in winter, with its covered bridges, idyllic farms and Green Mountains, the Nutmeg Inn where we stayed the first time . . . ah, to dream and then dream again.

  7. Dear Sunday,

    Oh how lovely. I do love maps. At one time I scoured antique shows looking for vintage maps. I love the idea of having a map of the literary landscape of Great Britain. I am Welsh (I have never been to Wales); I would love an antique map of the country. It is one of my greatest wishes to visit. Ms. Brown's work is breathtaking. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Wow these are beautiful - your friend is so talented! I love looking for antique maps :)

  9. I cannot imagine any more lovelier gift than a map like this! It would be an incredible and beautiful keepsake. They are gorgeous.

  10. Thanks for your kind words!
    I love maps - they are both beautiful and interesting to look at!

  11. One of the best blogs on the web... right here

  12. These are wonderful! I remember how important maps were in "The English Patient," and Michael Ondaatje's beautiful description of the cartography of our lives written on the body. The Redstone Studios maps seem to map the poetry of lives in the same way.

  13. These maps are so beautiful. I love seeing the details and reading the back story. What a great post.