Finding North

Finding North became the focus this week as I was researching the history of the compass rose. First a little background.

North on a map is a human construction that took hold in the early 1600s. Maps have always shown an up ‘direction’ but there have been variations – early Egyptian maps show South as up, East was up for a time in the Middle Ages Europe, and the Chinese had South as up very early. Eventually compass magnets and alignment with the earth’s magnetic field began to be used and reference to the north star set the path to a north-pointing approach to mapping set out originally by Ptolemy. On a map or chart the compass rose, also known as the wind rose took on the visual elements we most know today, 1) a point/spear/fleur de lis indicating ‘north’ and 2) the cardinal direction of the winds. The COLORS used on the earliest compass rose were red, blue, black and green.

This week’s watercolor sketching explores finding north… without a compass

Using a ‘Compass Plant’. Drawn from compiled photos since I have not seen the real plant.

Using moss or stars. This I have done. It’s easy to find north but you still need to figure out where you are!

Next week a new color search!

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