Jul 9, 2018 at 6:55 AM in Just for Fun
Artist John Petach makes stunning pieces of artwork from all kinds of maps. Discovery Map is honored to figure among his favorite “canvases.” Map Geek was thrilled to hear what John had to say about his art and his love for travel.
MG:Last winter you approached Discovery Map and asked for permission to use some of our maps in your artwork. How did you come across those Discovery Maps and why did they inspire you to use them as the canvas for your art?
JP:For the past three years, I have been creating a series of paintings on maps of my travels. I am originally from the Lambertville, NJ area and travel there at least once a year. I think I noticed that Discovery Map is the only map in that area, having seen them the past few years in some of my favorite local shops when I was in town. I first used that map as a background for a commission for a local friend! When the opportunity arose to create one of the large-scale posters for the town’s Shad Fest Art Scholarship auction, I knew I wanted to use one of the Lambertville Discovery Maps as my canvas.
MG:Did you first start to use maps as the foundation for your creations at that time? Do you think this is a theme that you will continue to work with for a while? Will you be using more Discovery Maps as inspiration?
JP:Yes, I started painting on maps of my travels about three years ago. I love to collect maps when I travel. In this day of smartphones telling us to make a left in 100 feet, you don’t get a real context of where you are in a place; maps do that for me. When I come home, I save that map and other little things like metro cards, museum tickets or hotel room keys, as mementos from the trip.
I think I will continue down this creative path for as long as I travel! Hopefully for a very long time.
Being that my travels will take me back to the Lambertville/New Hope area, I think I will definitely use more Discovery Maps as my canvas. In my process, the map shows through translucent washes of color. I use the colors and details of the map to influence the painted scene on the front. Discovery Maps’ colors lend themselves nicely to this technique. They work really well with the colors of the map coming through.
MG: Describe the process you go through when creating a piece. Take us from the idea phase to the final touches. The creative process can be so fascinating!
JP: As I travel, I collect the map of a place and proceed to live and absorb as much of the culture and colors of a place as possible. When I am back in my studio in Oakland, CA, I reference all of my photos and sketches. The size of the map dictates the size of the painting. I sketch a scene of that place using my reference material. I mount the map to a wood art box using a gel medium and then I paint a scene of that place in a loose impasto style. That technique creates a very textural and rich feel to the painting.
MG:From the looks of the Map Portfolio page on your website, you have made many maps from lots of different destinations. You seem to be quite the traveler. Please talk about how travel influences your creativity.
JP:I am truly inspired and influenced by travel. It opens your mind to new ways and possibilities. Really, travel is my artwork. When I return from a trip I am reenergized and will paint with those emotions and energy while it is still fresh.
MG:You often use different objects, such as a beach stone or a Paris metro card, as your paintbrush. Talk about how you came to do this and what effect it has on your work and you as an artist.
JP:There is a school of painters called Palette Knife Painters that use only their palette knives to paint with. I do that but I use the objects that I brought home as my palette knife paintbrush. I recently used a piece of granite (shown) from Yosemite to paint Half Dome. Each thing I paint with leaves a texture unique to that item.
MG:Is there anything you would like to add?
JP:I am a part of ’–