Alphonsa (2006) 2.5x 2.5, oil paint, acrylic on canvas
This is one of my favourite portraits and represents the kind lady who is shown in the portrait beautifully. Alphonsa is a social worker who came to work in my NGO to give support to gypsy artists in the slum area of what was then called “Katputli Colony”.
We found that there were many mental health problems among the community members. This included the children of the school that we operated who also needed counselling. Alphonsa was the kind soul who was always there to give a willing ear and listen to people’s problems. She radiated a peaceful energy with her slow movements and unblinking eyes!
Originally, Alphonsa had been a nun but eventually married a widower with a young daughter and later gave birth to a son.
When I started this painting, the first thing I did was spray paint the background red with a neon spray paint can. Over this foundation I then painted the portrait in oils. The orange red tones of the spray paint are visible through the thin layer of oil paint on the face pictured in the portrait. Red signifies energy and life for me. It is the energy of blood circulating in our body.
There are many other hidden colours in this painting that are not immediately seen. If you look at the painting you can see some blue tones in Alphonsa’s black hair and purple shadows that play in her eyes. More concealed colours will appear the longer you look at this painting. All these shades symbolise the personality of the sitter. The main colours used for the face are mustard yellow (ochre), brown (burnt sienna), white, and blue (cerulean). Together these are all warm shades just like the warmth that Alphonsa herself emanates!
My mother, who is a tapestry weaver, really liked this painting. She made a beautiful tapestry based on it that is just the same size as the original. It is included here.