Did this portrait as a diversion from the rather mundane task of editing my novel.
The Gadabas are an Eastern Indian Tribe of Odisha and Andhra. The Gadaba women wear two silver rings around their necks (called Khagla) that together weight between 1 and 1.5 kgs. These rings are never removed (require a blacksmith’s expertise for removal) are removed only after death.
A Gadaba Woman. Medium: Pen and Ink on Acid Free Strathmore 9″x12″
It isn’t easy…
I have closed my eyes and tries imagining the rings around my neck – weighing down upon my clavicle when I sit or stand, hitting against my bones when I run, and pushing against my neck when I turn my side to sleep. I don’t think I could wear them for even a few hours – but then habituation is such a marvelous thing.
Just finished this portrait of a Dhaneta Jat Woman. Dhaneta Jat is a Gujarati Tribe of Sunni Muslims, that is known to have arrived in India from Iran. When the women of the tribe get married they start wearing a gold nose-ring that is quite heavy and must be supported by black threads that are attached to their hair.
Dhaneta Woman Portrait – Size 9″x12″ Approximately – Strathmore Acid Free Paper
Working with Barb is always a fantastic experience. She gives me a lot of independence, allows me to add the details that I want to, and accommodates my idiosyncrasies. – but above all, she’s a lovely person.
I begin on any of her cover assignments after I’ve understood the storyline and figured out the role of the cover-art subject(s). Yuki, for instance, works in the Galaxy Police and she has a special ability – she can read clothes. The Yuki I met in the story is a confident woman who has a soft heart. Chinese faces are neotenous (they have childlike features – you can read more about neoteny in my book “Evolution of a Caricaturist,”) and a smile would’ve made her look even younger. So I went for a serious-but-soft look. If you are wondering about what made that look soft, you must look at her lips. Her lips are very slightly parted and turned up at the corners. As one ages, lips thin out and the line of the mouth straighten in the middle (the pursed lips look.)
The hat is an odd accessory. For men, it’s utilitarian. It protects them from the sun – and that’s all that it means to them. For a woman, a hat is a lot more than a sun-screen – it is a fashion-accessory, an art-piece, a status-symbol, and for all these reasons a woman’s hat expands to an incredible size and becomes a weight that must be carried around carefully and sometimes unwillingly.
When I look at women in hats, I think of their heads and what must go within. I begin to wonder if the pictures in these women’s minds were to replace their hats, what kind of image would I see.
Here’s one of those images.
Figuring out the hat isn’t easy, unless you are a woman, or a man who understands women. The clues are in the colors and the imagery of the hat – and I’ve tried to hide them as best as I could – just as a woman hides her woes behind her smile. I know that tomes can be written about the burden that women carry but if a picture is worth a thousand words, every woman should find her story – in this hat or in those that I am yet to paint…because the hats aren’t allowing my imagination any rest – they creep into my dreams and they wake me up at will.
You’ve got a similar hat…but you’d rather not talk about it – would you?
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