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The Green Man

2009, acrylic on unstretched canvas, 37 x 82", by Jenny Badger Sultan

Acrylic painting, 'The Green Man', by Jenny Badger Sultan. Click to enlarge acrylic painting 'The Green Man' (detail: face), by Jenny Badger Sultan.
acrylic painting 'The Green Man' (detail: puma), by Jenny Badger Sultan.

While coming to the ending of my work on Kore, I began to feel the need to do a companion painting of a male figure. It took the form of the Green Man and had the same basic structure of intersecting circles and started with a sweep of gold paint down the center and then transparent layers of color applied at random, instead of in a spectrum sequence as in “Kore.” Here are some notes from my painting log:

April 1--I am struggling with the shape and proportions of the Green Man. He was extremely hulking and massive. I have been trimming him down. Making him symmetrical is hard. On both the woman and the man I have been using cut outs, stencils, etc. extensively.

April 3--Yesterday I put in the circle of bees in his belly. I had begun with random realistic bees but they were creepy. These simple outlined bees are better. Today--after spending days on the shape of the legs and what might go next to him, I put in roots. This seems good. Roots are in the woman. I’ve been thinking a lot about branches and roots. When I take morning walks I am attracted by them, especially the exposed roots of the eucalyptus on the hill.

April 10--the two vines twining out of his mouth suggested the leaf boa from a dream of 1995. So, two leaf boas who also suggest the caduceus.

May 5--Thinking about the next side shapes down from the spirals, I think they should be green, then I think papyrus. I begin looking up papyrus forms and find this: [in Egyptian] from the name of the green stem of the papyrus comes the adjective “green” and a series of nouns and verbs related to the idea of well being, prosperity and youth. The stem of the papyrus is the magic scepter of the goddesses and Wadjet (“The Green”) is the name of the cobra goddess of Buto. Source: Hieroglyphics by Maria Carmela Betro.

May 11--I’m putting fresh green grassy sprouts on the shoulders. This reminds me of the Osiris seed bed that I saw in Egypt and found just amazing. Oh, of course--Osiris is the Green Man! (The seed bed was a flat wooden box in the shape of Osiris, about 12 ft. long which was planted with earth and grain. When the grain was about 10 in. high it was wrapped in linen and placed in the tomb as a resurrection symbol.)


16 years earlier I treated the same subject quite differently: The Green Man Tree.

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