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My Journey through the Maze

1969, oil, 58 x 58", by Jenny Badger Sultan

I had seen the design of a maze on a record cover and was inspired to create this maze painting. I spent quite a while figuring it out on graph paper and then laying it out on the canvas. It follows a path starting with the entry at the bottom and visits each of the larger square spaces in turn--Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. I just painted it like a journey, finishing each part as I went along, with no going back. When I got to "Air" I enlisted the help of Tom Akawie, who had a studio in the same building, and who used his airbrush to create the moon.
My Journey through the Maze
Finally, reaching the center, which I thought of as Energy, I was puzzled, not knowing how to distinguish it from the rest of the painting, since I had used so many colors. I did many drawings trying to work it out. Finally I got a flash--Iíll make it gold! I located a family business of gold beaters in Oakland who made their own gold leaf. One of them very kindly came to my studio bringing the gold leaf and size (to adhere it to the canvas) and showed me how to handle the delicate leaf. (You canít pick it up with your fingers, but have to use static electricity by running a brush through your hair and then lifting the leaf up and depositing it on the canvas.) I had made a whirling design for the center and ended up using casein paint to paint it since it was opaque on the gold.

The painting took 9 months to paint, working almost every day. Finishing it was like a birth; it felt like my first masterpiece. I exhibited it in the ď22 VisionariesĒ show at the SF Art Festival. It sold almost immediately and I've lost track of it; I regret that my only slide of it is not better.

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