This lavishly illustrated atlas takes readers off the beaten path and outside normal conceptions of California, revealing its myriad ecologies, topographies, and histories in exquisite maps and trail paintings. Based on decades of exploring the backcountry of the Golden State, artist-adventurer Obi Kaufmann blends science and art to illuminate the multifaceted array of living, connected systems like no book has done before. Kaufmann depicts layer after layer of the natural world, delighting in the grand scale and details alike. The effect is staggeringly beautiful: presented alongside California divvied into its fifty-eight counties, for example, we consider California made up of dancing tectonic plates, of watersheds, of wildflower gardens. Maps are enhanced by spirited illustrations of wildlife, keys that explain natural phenomena, and a clear-sighted but reverential text. Full of character and color, a bit larger than life, The California Field Atlas is the ultimate road trip companion and love letter to a place.
Obi Kaufmann grew up in the East Bay as the son of an astrophysicist and a psychologist spending most of high school practicing calculus and breaking away on weekends to scramble around Mount Diablo and map its creeks, oak forests, and sage mazes. Into adulthood, he would regularly journey into the mountains, spending more summer nights without a roof than with one. For Kaufmann, the epic narrative of the California backcountry holds enough art, science, mythology, and language for a hundred field atlases to come. When he is not backpacking, you can find the painter-poet at his desk in Oakland, posting @coyotethunder #trailpaintings on social media.