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Huge Ovoid Shape

Dreamed 1999/8/13, mixed media, 32 x 25", by Jenny Badger Sultan

This calendar grid comes 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. Here's August 1999; see also Jan. 2000.

Painted calendar for August 1 to September 4, 1999, 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. [Editor's note: few dreams, so the World Dream Bank has no examples; but see August-September 2000 or February and September 2001 at jennybadgersultan.com].

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 pentagon, the hexagon, the eight-pointed star, the ogee [spindle shape]. 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.

Details from painted calendar for August 1 to September 4, 1999, by Jenny Badger Sultan: portrait, dream of huge ovoid, abstract, leaves.

I haven't annotated most individual calendar entries, but here are a few samples enlarged and identified:

August 13--The Huge Ovoid Shape
dreamed Monday, August 9, 1999
I am in a city, on a crowded street--people and traffic. I look up above us and see a huge ovoid shape that seems to be formed of something white and insubstantial--reminds me of the vapors of dry ice. I am very alarmed--this seems incredibly dangerous--like it could suddenly blow up. There seem to be ropes and pulleys attached to it--holding it in place? It seems to have come from somewhere else.

Alarm and danger.

Then somehow I am with a bunch of people inside this thing. It is a whole complex of rooms and equipment inside--slightly wrecked and seemingly deserted. We are going from room to room, space to space, trying to see evidence of life activity, or what might have gone wrong. It is very dim. A person behind me is wearing an outfit (white) very much like a storm trooper from Star Wars. He and I go behind a room into a narrow kind of wrecked area. Still no sign of life.

Before we find any answers, I wake up.

August 18--Sketch of Ray
The guy with the beard is Ray Holbert, a colleague and my office mate at City College, San Francisco. I did the drawing at a faculty meeting.
Sept. 2--Oval
Just an abstract collage with a paint-print.
Sept. 3--Kale
Two leaves of purple kale.

--Jenny Badger Sultan

EDITOR'S NOTE

Most of Jenny's "Calendar Grid" series is nondream, but I wanted to show you the dream in context--an ambitious project.

About the dream itself: though unresolved, its central image is classically surreal, echoing Rene Magritte's floating apples and castles--and maybe his falling businessmen too. What happened to that vanished crew?

--Chris Wayan



LISTS AND LINKS: cities - balloons and airships - starships - surrealism - fear - explosions - hunts and searches - pencil - watercolor - acrylic - comics and sequential art - floating over a city street, a huge starship? Or King Kong Crab? - two more alarming clouds: Stompers and Who Ate My Lettuce? - more Jenny Badger Sultan

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