Woman with Shawl

Native American Woman in Shawl Oil Painting 16×20 by Winifred Whitfield

I love it when I can visualize a finished painting before I even create a reference photo for it. I was given a beautiful long shawl with a Native American design on it for Christmas. A couple weeks ago a friend came to visit who is Native American. I would photograph her wrapped in that shawl. I knew where I would seat her, how I would light her, how I would drape her. She was unusually comfortable with this process. After I seated her, she posed herself, with no help from me at all. She turned her head to the side and dropped her gaze. I clicked. I was amazed as I viewed the camera image. It was exactly what I wanted and the expression was PERFECT! “How did you know to do that?” I asked. She replied that when she was in high school, her photos were always better when she turned her head to the side and didn’t look straight into the camera. I took a few more shots – just because… but I selected that first “magical” image.

In the painting, the shawl is altered from the original pattern design, though inspired by it. The shawl colors are also substantially more colorful. I enjoy paintings whether with desaturated color or brightly colored, though I must say it was a joy to create all the color in this painting. The shawl actually stopped just below her elbows, leaving her forearms exposed. To create additional arm coverage, full ruffled cuffs were added, creating another visual element and texture. I hope you enjoy.

What a week. I feel great pride in the performance of and accomplishments of Ketanji Jackson Brown as she continues the confirmation process as the first Black female Supreme Court Justice. I continue to be jarred by the war.

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