The Woman Behind The Map


Most people living in Severna Park have seen the Bird’s-Eye View of Severna Park painting. Carol Duncan, the artist behind the map, came up with the idea when she was invited to a Christmas show at a friend’s house.

“I’d already decided this was one of the best places in the world to live,” Duncan said. “What could I do to honor where we are? I drew up a map.”

Duncan became familiar with Bird’s-Eye View maps when living in England. She researched the history of the map and found that it had been around since the 1400s when people could climb to the top of cathedrals and look down at the layout of the roads.

When she first started selling the map, Duncan would visit each person’s house and customize the map with his or her favorite landmarks: a house, church, school or favorite restaurant.

The map became a popular gift for those moving to or from the area. Realtors started giving it as a housewarming present when their clients bought a home. The Bird’s-Eye View of Severna Park is available at Side Street Framers.

Growing up, Duncan was in a family of artists. Her father was a pen and ink artist, and Bill Clinton had one of his drawings of the Little Rock Statehouse in the West Wing.

“If you grow up in a house with art supplies easily available, it’s just there for you,” Duncan said.

Of the 49 years that Duncan has been married, her husband was active in the Air Force for 20. Through this, Duncan has lived all over the world, including California, Florida and England.

During their travels, Duncan would paint landscapes of where they lived as a souvenir.

“I enjoy capturing that moment, whether you’re in Norway or South America or Millersville,” said Duncan, a Shipley’s Choice resident. “You capture that moment with that sunlight.”

Duncan still paints commemorative landscapes during their travels. One of her most memorable artistic experiences was in the fall of 2017 when she was invited to paint in Monet’s garden for a week.

“That was a life-changing event. It took me a year and a half to get ready for it,” Duncan said. “I’d take my easel out around the neighborhood or wherever we were going and try to paint faster. It was fun to have that mission.”

Previously, Duncan taught art at Severn School. What started as a volunteer position turned into a full-time teaching position when the school was short an art teacher.

“I absolutely love the idea that you could teach teenagers to do something they thought they couldn’t do,” Duncan said. “There’s that amazing energy of a teenager where they will eventually believe anything.”

After teaching for 16 years, Duncan retired from the school. She took an 11-year break and is now back as a volunteer working in the alumni house. Duncan is designing a timeline that will be a visual of the school’s history.

Though she no longer paints for commission, Duncan now enjoys supporting her former students in their art pursuits.

“Within the last four years, we’ve done two art shows at Severn where the alums have sent their work back in,” Duncan said. “That was a great 16 years teaching young people to do something they thought they couldn’t do.”


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