When the Phantom Galaxy image was released, I was entranced: so many flows, complex shapes and implied interactions. I decided instantly that I needed to make a galaxy maze.
My process for making mazes involves several stages. My toolchain is entirely digital, but the maze is NOT computer generated: I drew it entirely by hand. Most of my works are inspired by my own photography, though, for this maze I suppose I've outsourced the space craft and camera. I made several rough sketches of the image, preliminary digital paintings and even made a collage. Then I traced out the flow patterns that I see in the detail, etching them into a virtual black matte. The black matte becomes the maze walls through which my digital painting shines.
Please support my
Even a small
This maze was hard to create. There is so much chaos and noise in the image - well, probably in the galaxy, too. I sketched out the major flow patterns that I could see, drawing them with quick ragged brush strokes. I found myself consantly referring back to the original image to map out details, colors and relationships between star and dust.
I started representing the cloud streamers as stretched out line patterns, but the color chaos kept pushing me toward tight vortices. I resisted and stretched the vortices along the corridors of dust and hidden stars. The result is a mix of textural styles.
Mazes are all about pathways, but it is hard to represent a point (a star) as a pathway. I enlarged most stars and then represented them with a C or S shaped path. They now look like eyes of alien animals.
In these close up views, it is evident that I have been influenced by pinball machine art, especially the back glass. I wasn't consciously thinking about it, but made the stars look like they've been illuminated from behind by incandescent bulbs.
I've hidden things all over this maze: faces, figures, tributes to long lost friends and lovers. There is even an accolade to the JWST, a space limerick, embedded across many lightyears of space:
We now have a telescope called James
That Ariane took skyward on flames
Going quite far beyond Hubble
To a libration point bubble
To surveil red shifted star games
Okay, so it isn't a perfect limerick, I'm not a perfect poet.
(you're going to have a hell of time finding it)