Daedalus Dreamed was born from an obsession with mazes, but particularly The Labyrinth, the most famous maze in human history. The Labyrinth was built by Daedalus for King Minos of Crete. Its sole purpose was to be a dwelling but perhaps more accurately a prison for The Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull life form.
Step 1 involved getting the right size gallery-wrapped canvas. I wanted to create a large maze. 48″ x 30″ was picked because it was the biggest canvas which fit on the table in the art room. After priming it with gesso, I applied crackle paste to the sides of the canvas. I applied extra heavy gloss gel to the front of the canvas. I pushed small tree branches into the wet gel to create imprints. I then cut holes in a large fish net and laid it down on top of the gel medium, stretching it around all four sides, adding more gel to ensure the netting was completely glued to the canvas. I let that dry for 3 days. I then applied GAC500, a binder medium, to the sides and front of the canvas. This not only strengthened the crackle paste on the sides of the canvas, but also made everything one complete unit. I let the binder dry for 24 hours. I then painted everything with black gesso to re-establish a ground with good tooth.
After the black gesso dried, I used a white chalk pencil to draw a grid on the entire canvas. I chose black gesso and white chalk for a good contrast in order to see what I would be doing next. Plus, the chalk mixes well with acrylic paint. Once I had the grid completed, I diluted some white mixing paint with water and put it in a reusable paint pen. I used the paint pen to draw the maze. I drew circles off-center in an asymmetrical relationship on the canvas for focal points, then drew an entrance and an exit for the maze. Once I had the maze closed in with only two openings, I started drawing. I wanted the maze to be somewhere in the middle between easy and difficult to navigate.
This was the biggest maze I had ever attempted to sketch, so there were lots of mistakes. With black paint, I was able to open and close pathways, finally getting the sketch completed in 2 days.
Next I filled up a cake icing bag full of crackle paste. I used a medium sized nozzle and went to work squeezing out crackle paste onto the lines I had painted the previous 2 days. It took a couple of hours to get the maze walls finished. Then I used my fingers to flatten out sections of the maze walls to give the appearance of collapsed walls. I wanted the maze to appear ancient and in a state of moderate deterioration. I then applied another coat of GAC500 binder to strengthen the crackle paste walls. The GAC500 dries to a very smooth finish and must then be treated with gesso. I followed up with another coat of gesso. I then applied coarse nepheline gel to the maze pathways to give them a rough finish. The fish netting was used to give the appearance of roots growing and taking over the maze pathways. I painted the netting iridescent black for contrast. I painted the pathways with a combination of yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, raw and burnt sienna, raw and burnt umber, cadmium red, red oxide, and a few more colors. I painted the walls magenta, but there wasn’t enough contrast, so I repainted the walls antique iridescent gold.
I then painted the 4 circles. The black paint on the fish netting came last. The painting took several weeks. I frosted the circles with iridescent white paint to give them a misty appearance. This painting was hard work, but worth it.
You can see the coarse texture of the maze pathways in the close up below.
You can see the black fishnet looking like roots are taking over the pathways in the close up below.
This painting was featured in a recent exhibition.