Monday, January 29, 2024

Girl from the North Country (Painting)

This painting was inspired by a visit to Buscalan, Kalinga many years ago. During a hike up a steep hill, I came across a wooden shed just a few meters away from the trail. Resting inside the open shed were a man and a woman. They were in their 60's by my estimation. Probably husband and wife. The sun was high up in the cloudless sky and the heat was starting to become unbearable so I decided to stop for a much-needed respite inside the shed. I slowly shuffled towards the shed. The couple welcomed me with friendly gestures - the man with a toothless grin and the woman with a nod of her head. Both were chewing what looked like to be tobacco.

I didn't speak any of the Kalinga languages. I tried to break the silence by talking to them in Iloko. Fortunately, they understood and spoke the language so we were able to converse for a while. The old woman struck me the most. She was covered in tattoos and I couldn't stop staring at the black dots and lines that swirl around her leathery skin. She didn't seem to mind me staring at them. I've seen numerous Kalinga women covered in tattoos but these were mostly in photos and in the internet. This was my first time to see a tattooed Kalinga woman in the flesh. In person. As she moved, it was almost hypnotic looking at the lines and designs as they follow her every movement.

For weeks and months after that visit in Kalinga, the old woman and her tattoos kept crossing my mind. I started asking myself questions. When did she get the tattoos? Did she get them when she was a child? When she was a teenager? When she was an adult? I started visualizing what she would have looked like as a young woman with those tattoos.

This painting was the result of the visualization. I wanted to put on solid canvas what I imagined what she looked like decades ago. This painting was an attempt to go back in time. At a time in Kalinga when the old woman as a young girl walked the same trail and took shelter in the same shed.

I named the painting after a Bob Dylan song: "Girl from the North Country".

Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
If it rolls and flows all down her breast.
Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
That's the way I remember her best.

"Girl from the North Country"
Acrylic on Canvas
19.5 inches (height) by 23.5 inches (length)

Facebook: The Art of Daniel Ted C. Feliciano