Monday, July 29, 2013

The Nigerian Gele

I met Chelsea at the Salon International a couple of years ago and have been so very fortunate to have had her as a regular model all this time. She modeled for our Friday painting group, The Market Street Painters, a week ago, wearing an outfit that she wore to a Nigerian wedding this spring.
The elaborate headwrap is called a gele. My first-ever model was actually from Nigeria and taught me all the different ways to wrap one, and what each one meant. One way said, "I'm nubile," another said, "I'm a married," and some said things that, well, that embarrassed the model. I'm not sure but I think that these days the gele is more of a fashion statement; the more elaborate the better. I saw one once that was 3 feet tall with enormous yellow butterflies.
My original plan was to have much of the gele showing but Chelsea's eyes are just so wonderful that her face grew on my canvas until I could work with them. 20x16 is 20x16 so something had to give. It was the gele that gave.
Here's a promise though: I will soon paint another painting of Chelsea in this costume on a larger canvas and include the gele. When you see how voluminous and sculpturally interesting this thing is, your socks will roll up and down.


  1. She looks very regal and I love the subtle tones. Thanks for sharing the info about the!

  2. For someone who once said that portrait painting is not really her forte (or something to that effect), you sure do a marvelous job of portrait painting.
    It's excitingly scary to think what is your forte, if not portrait painting!!
    Very, very beautiful, friend....Susan

  3. Oh! I did not see these comments! They have been hidden somewhere.
    @Denise, she is regal!
    @Susan, that made me laugh :-D Thank you.
    Was it hard to leave a comment?
    Do you think it would be easier if the comments were on the same page as the blog entry, without having to click on "comments"?