In the Garden--Gifts of the Mothers
2007, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 50", by Jenny Badger Sultan
In the Garden is one of three paintings partly prompted by the title of a book I’d heard of but hadn't read, “Healing Image--the Great Black One.” The series started at the time of the summer solstice, when we start the Journey to the Dark. Each painting began with a black gesso ground, unusual for me.
Garden came several months after the other two, Voices from the Abyss and Hestia. Again, a black ground. I brought out a small oil painting from 2001 that I’d painted in the Arboretum in Golden Gate Park, when I was there with my painting class. It was of the colorful entry garden and was on a black ground. I used it as an inspiration and began working very freely with vivid colors.
I had thought of women in the garden and had an initial idea of Muslim women in different degrees of covering. (I had been in Turkey a few months before.) But I found I couldn’t bear painting veiled women.
“Our Mother Eve” holding a pomegranate came in, as well as Demeter with a sheaf of wheat, our African sister singing and holding a bowl of red ochre, the woman with the spiral shell headdress who reminded me of my daughter, etc. They became the Mothers, bearing gifts for the emerging baby (like the fairy godmothers in the fairy tales.)
Unlike the first two, Garden was so much fun to paint!