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Calendar Grid--2000 (April 2 to May 6)

2000, mixed media, 32 x 25", by Jenny Badger Sultan

The Calendar Grids and Scrolls come from a 3 1/2 year period from January, l999, to June, 2002, where I made an image every day. (I had done a year of calendar grid drawings previously in 1981-82.) It seemed significant to begin this work on New Year's Day of the year before the turn of the century. I was on sabbatical from my teaching job and had more time to devote to my art.

I worked first with the grid, within a 3 1/2 inch format. Each day reflected either an inner or an outer event or a feeling or came out of the work I was doing on a painting. I chose whatever medium appealed to me--watercolor, acrylic, collage, monoprint, colored pencil, caran d'ache, etc. Examples: July and August 1999, January and April 2000.

Painted calendar for April 2 to May 6, 2000, by Jenny Badger Sultan. Click to enlarge

After a while, the grid structure began to feel very constricting, so I moved to the vertical scroll, where the amount of space I used could vary both horizontally and vertically. Images could also begin to overlap. This whole process gave me an opportunity to draw a lot, explore my range, work in many different materials and do a lot of experimentation. It stands as a visual journal of this time period. Examples: August-September 2000, February and September 2001.

Several years after I had ended the scrolls, I found myself embarking on a series of paintings based on different grid structures--such as the hexagon, the eight-pointed star, the ogee [spindle shape], the pentagon. I had designed many repeated patterns years ago when I silk-screened fabrics. This time I felt that working with these different grids put me into relationship with the art of Islam and the Middle East, an area of the world we have become so very involved with in recent years. Each structure has called forth a different way of working, different imagery, a different feeling. I did not preconceive them but let the process unfold as I went along. Detail from painted calendar for April 23 to May 6, 2000, by Jenny Badger Sultan: swimming and diving off a giant mushroom.

I haven't annotated the daily entries on these calendars, but here's one sample enlarged and identified:

Friday, April 14, 2000: Mushroom-shaped Rock Dream

Hank and I are at a beach. As we walk along, we come to a space where there is a mushroom-shaped rock in the middle of a hot spring. People are climbing up onto the rock and then jumping off into the hot pool. It seems to be older European men mainly who are doing this.

I test the water from below and find that it is actually very hot. Probably the source of the spring is right near the base of the rock. You would have to move rather quickly away from the center ofter you jump in order not to get scalded. So it seems a little bit risky but it must be OK because so many people are doing it. I want to do it.

I begin climbing up the back side of the rock. I am clumsy and am having trouble getting up. There is a sign wedged among the rocks that are the way up. I somehow get stuck between the sign and the rocks and as I ascend I dislodge the sign. This is embarrassing. However I am determined to get up there so I can jump into the hot water.

I am really anticipating it. It just seems unusual and very wonderful.


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