A Canadian Love Story

My client came to me wanting to do something special for her husband. He really appreciates art and so she thought of getting him a commissioned painting. Her objective was to have something created that would have significant meaning. 


She knew I specialized in creating abstract maps and asked if I could do a map of Canada. I thought to myself this would be a rather large piece then to fit all of Canada and I had never gotten to do another country before so I was up for the challenge.

As my client explained what she was wanting, it turns out it would not be the entire country, but rather three Canadian provinces. There are not too many major highways within these provinces so I was thinking about how I would incorporate my signature modeling paste into the piece. 

A Map with Meaning

The three provinces included in the piece are Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Alberta is where my client and her husband first met, Saskatchewan is where my client is from, and Manitoba is where my client’s husband is from. 

Map of Canadian provinces

Her husband, like many in Manitoba, spent his childhood at the lake. In Manitoba there are a few lakes that are special to their family. Lake Winnipeg is a pretty large landmark in the province and his family visited often, but it was Star Lake where he, as a young boy along with his older brother and father chose to build two cabins and did it themselves. The family spent every summer there as well as West Hawk Lake and Falcon Lake which are all very close together. 

Her husband’s father passed this year and my client wanted to commemorate him in a meaningful way that her husband could cherish and remember all the good times shared as a family.

Canadian lakes

Commissioning a Custom Map

My client and I first discussed the budget for the piece. This helps me best understand what materials to work with in order to remain on budget while still being able to complete the desired look and feel of the painting. My client looked through the other maps I have created in the past and identified which style she thinks her husband would like best and work well in their home. 

She really liked my California Map because of the softness, how the water was captured, and the unique patterns of each individual space. I let her know this was done through watercolor and confirmed she would also like the highways to be done in a solid white. 

Because the lakes have so much meaning to my client’s husband, I really wanted to pronounce these within the piece. What better way to do this than with my signature modeling paste? Not only would the few highways be done in the 3D texture, but also the lakes shown in the painting. This helped balance out the piece due to the placement of each lake. 

When I create my maps, I first use Google Maps where I find the selected area, print it, trace the desired lines, and that is what I cast onto the canvas with a projector to trace. I always confirm with my client the accuracy and if any changes are needed from this point. 

Sketch of Canada map

Pictures are always sent along the way, from taping over the traced lines, the first layer of paint, how it looks with the tape removed, and then finally the piece with the modeling paste completed. At any time if changes are to be made, the client and I have an open and honest dialogue. The last thing I want is for my client to receive a painting they didn’t like or that didn’t match their initial vision. 

Work in progress map art

I also ensured the areas with the most significant meaning, Star Lake, had subtle differences from the rest of the map that indicate that area of the map means something very special. I love being able to include this in my custom maps because it is like a secret hidden gem the client gets to appreciate and recognize when they look at the painting. 

Custom map artist

The Big Reveal

My client’s husband travels quite a bit for work. We timed the delivery of the painting to her home the day before her husband would return. She wanted the painting to be a surprise where she would leave it placed on their easel in the living room so when he came home it would be one of the first things he would see. 

Canada map commission

When he came home he noticed the painting right away. He recognized each province, pointed to each lake and was able to name them, and most importantly, found the lake where his childhood cabin was located. It brought tears to his eyes as he reminisced about his favorite places and memories with his father. He was beyond grateful to his wife for such a thoughtful and sweet gift that will last for years to come. 

Client Testimonial

We cannot thank Kimmie enough for this piece.  What I love most was her ability to capture what I was trying to portray onto the canvas.  She felt and brought the emotion to life which was apparent as it brought both my husband and I to tears when we first saw it.  It now hangs in his office where he can look at it every day.  As we enter our house it is one of the first things we see.  Sometimes I catch him just staring at it with a smile on face.  In fact, as I write this, tears come to my eyes and I am so grateful that through Kimmie I was able to give him such a special gift.  -Lori B.

About Kimmie Designs

Kimmie is a local Houston artist who specializes in making abstract maps. She first began with a map of Houston and then created the sequel of Texas. From there she did multiple color palettes of both Houston and Texas and began taking on custom orders of states and cities that have meaning to her clients such as Dallas, Paris, West Virginia, Ohio, and more. There are endless possibilities when it comes to maps but the best part is making clients happy when they see a map that has so much meaning to them and their family. If you’ve been thinking of adding something unique to your home or not sure what to get your friends and family for that special occasion, consider a custom abstract map made by Kimmie. Contact me and we can chat!

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