The journal of the process of making 'Painted Steps'
I saw in Madrid, a most significant object, linking the gold in the churches, the path of the Camino and home: Juan de la Cosa’s mapamundi (map of the world), made in 1500 that includes the earliest surviving European mapping of the Americas.
on parchment 3' x 6' approx.
Having laid the ground (literally the background) of Painted Steps, I’m gathering up images of individual things about the Camino I want to put into the painting, like the little pictures of people, cities, sea monsters and gods, found on maps like this.
I make lists of the birds, plants, animals, structures, dovecotes, peloté courts, oats, peas, barley, wheat, almond trees, a dust devil, goldfish, bugs, butterflies, outcroppings, wild boar…..
......remembering the first day, the first place, I came across this new creature, or thing.
I make pen sketches and gouache studies using various sources:
my souvenir photos, my partners photos, brochures picked up and carried along the Camino, and images from the web: from personal and commercial websites about The Camino, government, agricultural, scientific, and historical websites, universities, clubs, societies, and Wikipedia, in English French and bits of Spanish.
Las urracas – magpies- on the green lawns of the Opus Dei Universidad de Navarra on the outskirts of Pamplona / Iruña - a lovely parkland walk as we head out for the Alto of Perdón.
I was thrilled to see the storks, a fairy tale bird–reminds me how European fairy tales actually are. My first sighting was a nest on a pole/tower as we approached Puente la Reina.
I wonder if those poles were built for them, or what else is their purpose?
There, the medieval church tower held 4 or 5 of their bulky nests.
We stopped under the stone archway to hear the bells and the chanting.
Studies of Cometa Rojas, Red Kite- fabulous! We stopped and watched them swooping over the hills around Zubiri. If I were a lamb I would be nervous.
Distant barns…all that delicious pork? A reality check.
The unique sighting of el Jabalí -wild boar -on an alternative Camino trail- “the one less travelled” (another quote from Robert Frost) with our Camino friend Terry from Seattle.
The highway barrels straight through the narrow streets of Villafranca Montes de Oca, where we are staying overnight. Huge semis drive 2 feet away from the door of the Supermercado, little convenience store. The hungry peregrinos/pilgrims rush across for the 5pm opening to buy supplies for supper. Accidents? The residents are hopefully used to taking precautions.
Where along the green/sienna/gold band of the painting do I place the pictures?
Well, extreme right is St Jean - the beginning, extreme left is León,- the end, so I need to lay in a map of distances.
I will do this with the chart given to us by Les amis de Saint-Jacques, the friendly and informative pilgrim helper association in St Jean-Pied-de Port -French, San Juan Pie de Puerto- Spanish, Donbane Garazi - Basque.