The brief for this card was to depict “the meandering road to find the perfect Christmas tree”, particularly inspired by tree hunting expeditions in Watauga County in northwestern North Carolina.
I had the pleasure of joining the family on one of these missions in 2017, and had taken some photos during the trip.
One option I explored for this card was to use the patterns from those photos themselves to create a path, tracing the overall shapes in the images in a maplike fashion.
Ultimately, though, the project required a little more reference to the route itself.
I started the final piece with a sketch based off of the route through the Christmas tree lots, including some of the larger roads in the area for reference. I then painted watercolor wash along those roads, in violet (for the main route) and in yellow (for the other area roads), and filled them in with interpretive, imaginary roads in grey. I kept all the roads liquid as I worked so they bled into each other, and outlined the resulting blocks in pen once the roads dried. I then filled in the blocks selectively with contrasting watercolor from the same limited palette.
The Christmas tree callouts were my abstract interpretations of different aspect of the hunt: reckoning the height based on different family members; looking for flat sides; and fanning out over the hill to compare different trees.