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How I painted an illustrated map

Earlier this year I was given the wonderful opportunity to create an artwork for a Sicilian Deli that would sit behind their tills. The brief was simple; create something that reflects Sicily. Something that will be engaging and interesting for customers to look at, while they’re waiting in the queue - anything you like! Oh and we’ve tiled the entire wall but left a 1.2m x 0.8m gap for it - just waiting on you to fill it now - no pressure eek eek!



I had lots of ideas swirling round my head but an illustrated map was my clear leader.


I spent some time researching Sicily's geography, culture and history. I took note of significant landmarks and regions that I could feature on the map. The active volcanoe Mt Etna of course but also their glorious blue flag beaches, open air theatres and cathedrals. Who knew that tiny little elephants used to live on Sicily in the dim and distant past? Their fossils were round in Puntali Cave. I also brainstormed ideas on how to represent the island's unique culture and heritage. Several of Shakespeare plays are set in Sicily, Burt Lancaster starred in a film called "The Leopard" - a Sicilian historical drama and those Moor head vases you see everywhere - what a gruesome tale.



With a map I would also be able to highlight the region that a lot of the deli’s own brand products are grown in - Agira. It was going to be a good conversation starter, not only about the Island and the Deli but also about its rich stories and legends and of travels past and travel dreams.


With a clear vision of what I wanted to create, I began sketching out a rough layout for the map. I drew outlines of the various regions, coastlines, and landmarks, and experimented with different fonts and styles for the text. I made several sketches until I was satisfied with the overall layout and design.


Next I had an MDF board precision cut to size and treated it with primer.


A couple of days later the design was outlined onto the canvas, I began painting the map using acrylic paints. I used freehand painting to create the different regions and landmarks on the map. I paid close attention to the colour palette, making sure to capture the warm and vibrant colours of Sicily's landscape and architecture.



Once the painting was complete, I added some finishing touches. I designed my own take on the Sicilian Trinacrier. She has pointed dancing feet now of course. AND being a vegetarian, almost vegan, I put my own spin on Sicilian octopus fishing.


Finally, time for a clear protective layer to protect it from any damage and I was done!


Overall, creating an illustrated map of Sicily for the Herne Hill Sicilian deli, London was a fun and rewarding project. It allowed me to combine my passion for cartography and art, and helped me create a unique and beautiful piece of art that perfectly captures the essence of Sicily's rich culture and history. I hope it goes on to be a good talking point in the deli and something interesting to look at while waiting in the queue. If you're ever in Herne Hill, do drop into The Sicilian Deli, enjoy a coffee and a Cannoli or Granita con Brioche and let me know what do you think of the map?



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