How To: Make a Watercolor From a Map

I happen to love maps as art. If you've been around MRFB for a bit, you've probably seen one of my favorite pieces - a vintage map of Martha's Vineyard - that hangs above our dining room table. So when I recently found a way to make a watercolor map of any place in the world, I couldn't wait to make one and add it to the ever-changing gallery wall in the living room. (Here's the latest iteration of that wall in case you want to see it.)

Wait, what's that I heard you say? You're not an artist and you don't do watercolor? Oh good, me neither. I've got a secret to share with you about these watercolor maps. You don't have to be an artist to make a pretty map like the one you see above. In fact, someone has already done all the hard work for you. 

Non-watercolorists, meet Stamen Maps. Some creative genius over there has created a watercolor version of the whole world. Whoa. All you have to do is pick your favorite place by searching (just like on Google Maps), choose your printing boundaries, save it, and print it out. So simple.

I made a bunch of them online (because I was having way too much fun seeing what my favorite places looked like in watercolor), but chose to print out this map of Venice because a) we went there last summer, so it's got some memories attached to it and b) it looks stinkin' cool as a map since it's shaped like a fish. 

Here it is printed out. If I had been all fancy, I would've printed it on card stock, but I didn't have any handy so out it came on regular ole printer paper. Worked just fine for my purposes :).

I trimmed it down so that it would fit nicely in my 8x10 frame, put a piece of heavy white paper behind it as a mat (the lazy gal's version of framing) and hung it on the wall.

It sits on the bottom middle area of the gallery wall. The colors mix quite nicely with the ampersand and Kensington Ave. street sign that are nearby.

I'm loving this (inexpensive) little addition to the gallery wall.

I think it would also be really cool to make 6-8 maps of all your favorite places and hang them in nice big gallery frames a la this style from Young House Love. Somebody please do that for me. I can't hang a grid pattern above our sofa because of that silly, off-center wall sconce (oy, how that drives me nuts).

While I've got you here, I also wanted to point out a piece of "real art" that I added to the wall - a beautiful oil painting. I picked up this tiny gem from a local artist at a farmer's market this summer. I love the colors and the scene. Ain't she pretty?

I'm still working on tweaking this wall and the frame contents because I'm not totally satisfied with it. I think I need to add a couple more frames to fill it out. What do you think?


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  1. Gorgeous, Chaney! Thank you so much for this source. I'm doing a gallery wall for a friend who was in the Peace Corps in Zanzibar, so I'm going to print one out for her! I love it!

    Also, I'm doing a large grid installation with a black and white map of Paris in a client's house. I can't wait to see what it will look like! :)

  2. I love this idea! I pinned it to my Map Art board.

  3. I'm a little late reading this blog, especially some of the posts, but got to say... everything here is so great and so true. As someone who's originally from the area, I get a chuckle out of many things here.
    If you want to learn more about 10 Best Mini blender Reviews, you can visit now


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