"Explore. Express. Repeat." & My Google Earth Project

A few years ago when I was just really getting into my art business, a friend and I were talking about our life goals, and he summed his up in 4 words (one of which I will change in case there are any kiddies reading this): "Do hugs, ride bikes!" (Hugs are legal where he lives.) I remember telling him I needed a catchy life goal like that, albeit one that included things *I* like. I thought about it for a few months, tossing out some ideas now and then ("Go places, paint them" and "Find Beauty, Display It" (mine)... "Explore to Express" (his)), but nothing stuck until: Explore. Express. Repeat.


It just makes sense.


The "Explore" is obvious. I've got a hankering for traveling and it SHOWS. And my exploration is not just geographical. I like to explore new hobbies and life paths as well. I've got certifications in AutoCAD, residential general contracting, ACE Personal Training, SCUBA diving, and probably a few others I've since lost interest in. I love to explore.


The "Express" has two meanings. I EXPRESS the emotions I felt in a place, and I do that through EXPRESSionistic art. (At least, that's the general consensus among my smarter art friends. I am "an expressionist and colorist who creates slightly abstracted landscapes and cityscapes." Thanks, smarter art friends!)


The "Repeat" is obvious as well. I'm never going to stop!


I loved it so much it made its way into my business logo


PART 1: EXPLORE

I would say I travel more than your average bear... as well as your average human. I'm lucky enough to be able to attend lots of conferences for work in lots of different places (pre-COVID, that is). My day job is super enjoyable and pays me well, and I have no kids or mortgage or car payment. (Felt like I should mention all that because it keeps it real of *how* I'm able to travel.) I save up for big trips. And before I saved up, I used to go into big ol' credit card debt lol. (I don't recommend that.)


I thanks my parents for instilling a love for traveling in me! They zapped me with the travel bug in high school by taking my sister and I on a 5-week road trip around Europe in an RV. It was incredible, and I was hooked.


Every time I travel to a new place--actually, every time I go anywhere--I always end up with some photos from the trip.

My cell phone takes great pictures, and lets me geotag all my photos. If a photo is especially paintable, when I get home I'll pull it into a folder called "00 INSPIRATION\00 TRAVEL ART" on my computer.


Right now, from all the trips I've taken since like 2012, I have over 1,000 inspirational reference photos in "00 TRAVEL ART". All geotagged. (Well, mostly. Sometimes I used my DSLR and I have to figure out the GPS coordinates by scooting around in Google Streetview. Or taking my best guess.)


I wasn't kidding



At the rate I'm currently going (thanks to my new weekday morning painting practice), I might be able to finish 100 paintings a year, max. At that rate, it'll take me 10 YEARS to paint everything that has already inspired me. But in those 10 years... I will have traveled to many, many more places (I sure hope, at least).


So, it's safe to say that I'll never get to paint everything I find beautiful.

But that's okay! There's so much fun in trying.


PART 2: EXPRESS

When I decide to paint a photo, I'll move it from the 00 INSPIRATION parent folder to 01 IN PROGRESS.





I'll look at all the pictures I took, and use the GPS coordinates to pull it up in Google Earth and take a look at Street View to get a better idea of what things were.




For example, in one of my recent paintings, there was a statue down the road that looked intriguing, and I wanted to learn more about it. And learn I did!


I even ended up liking some photos on the Facebook page of the artist who made it.




When my painting is done, I photograph it or have it scanned, upload the scan to my print-on-demand sites to make sure it's high enough quality, and then I varnish the painting, frame it, wire it, and write the GPS coordinates on the back of it (I just started doing this). Its folder then gets moved over to the 02 COMPLETE parent folder.


Then, I price it using a formula and the hours I tracked in ClickUp, log it in Artwork Archive, create the product page for it on my website (you're on it right now) and all my print-on-demand sites. And, I make an entry for it in...


WAIT FOR IT...


MY MASSIVE GOOGLE EARTH PROJECT.

This spinning globe logs all of my trips and travel art. It's totally interactive and ready for you to explore. Each little pink easel is a painting I've completed, and it's dropped directly on top of the GPS coordinates of its reference photo. Clicking a painting in the table of contents will zoom you to its location and give you a popup with information about that spot. Each record should have a link back to my shop to purchase the painting, if it's still for sale, or prints from my print-on-demand sites. And, you can drop Pegman (that's the little gold guy's official name) into Street View and see if you can recreate the vantage point that inspired me.


I am a little worried that people will copy my process, now that I've shared it. But, I've spent so much time on it, and I'm so FREAKING EXCITED about it that I wanted to make sure you all know about it! Here it is (please click this link or click the photo, because the map itself can't be embedded)



There are points, lines and polygons in this Google Earth Project.

  • The points are paintings, represented by a little pink easel.

  • The lines are trips I've taken, and clicking on them will give you a description of the trip, and may even link you to some ArcGIS Online Story Maps I've made with my personal license.

  • The polygons are areas I've spent a lot of time in and have too many trips to count, like Oklahoma City, Norman, and Wynnewood.



PART 3: REPEAT

And then I keep traveling and painting and mapping until I am either a) entirely too full of beauty to be able to absorb another vista (lol never gonna happen), b) broke af, or c) hamburger time.


And, thanks to my map, YOU can repeat my trips and vistas yourself, if you're so inclined. If you do, send me a pic!



I think it's safe to say I am a map nerd.

I remember being like 12 or 13 years old in a Barnes and Noble and being SO EXCITED that they had an antique map calendar. I of course grabbed it and gazed in wonder at all the beautiful maps of the world as people thought it existed over the centuries. (I'm not sure if I actually bought it, because I also distinctly remember my anxiety telling me I was being a total weirdo for being a teenage girl buying an antique map calendar. Thanks a lot, anxiety. Now probably I don't have a calendar of cool maps.)


18 years later, I'm still a map nerd. I do a lot of work with GIS in my day job, and with SCAUG, the GIS organization I sit on the board of. So of course, it makes sense that maps would show up in my art business, too!


This year, I'm focusing on paintings from my 2018 Iceland trip. I've got quite a few in the hopper, and a few left for sale. I dropped some new Iceland paintings this last week, and I'm finishing new paintings all the time. Be sure to get on my text list to be notified of new paintings as I put them in the shop! Collectors get first dibs (order of dibs depends on collector's Tier), and then my art fans are notified. Then, I blast on all the social media and in my emailed monthly newsletter.


Thanks for reading, and happy exploring!


Me being cold and ecstatic in Iceland, 2018.

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I make art for explorers and explorers at heart.

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Wynnewood, OK, USA

 © Madeline Dillner, Mad World Art Ltd. Co.