Map Monsters

Monster Monday: Map Monsters: Sea Unicorn!

Sea Unicorn,© 2015 Liz Vitale

Sea Unicorn,© 2015 Liz Vitale

Drawn directly from another old engraving (non-colored),this half-fish, half unicorn creature seems to be crawling over the surface of the water with a strange set of armlike appendages in the front. I took great liberties in coloring it, thinking it would be neat if a unicorn of the sea would be not white, but a kelpy green.

Monster Monday: Map Monsters—Balena!

Balena,© 2015 Liz Vitale

Balena,© 2015 Liz Vitale

I recreated this whale(labeled “Balena”) from an old map in which it is either being joined or pursued by a similar, smaller creature(“Orca”). I am guessing the Orca was hunting the whale, But the whale (if you can even call it that) looks like a pretty tough customer itself; would you want to mess with it?
Although I love the old maps’ appearance because first they are engravings with black outlines and then they are colored in with watercolor (which is totally my style), I am trying very hard to paint without utilizing outlines. It’s hard. SO this “Balena” actually would have had dark outlines, but I decided to go without. Not bad for a first try?

Monster Monday: Map Monsters–The Sea Pig!

Sea Pig, © 2015 Liz Vitale

Sea Pig, © 2015 Liz Vitale

Going back to at least the first century with Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, there was a theory that every land animal has an counterpart in the sea. It was believed that there were sea dogs, sea lions, sea pigs, etc. Some of these are now the names of real animals—sea lions are the “eared” seals and sea pigs are many-legged deep water sea cucumbers. The medieval imaginings,however, were the literal hybrid of the known land animal with a fish. Here is the medieval sea pig,which was compared to heretics that distorted truth and lived like swine, lived in the North Sea on Olaus Magnus’s 1539 Carta Marina, a lushly illustrated map that inspired many after it. Olaus Magnus called it “The Monstrous Hog of the German Ocean,” and that it had “a Hog’s head, and a quarter of a Circle, like the Moon, in the hinder part of its head, four feet like a Dragon’s, two eyes on both sides in his Loyns, and a third in his belly, inclining towards his Navel; behind he had a forked Tail, like to other Fish commonly.”