I like strong hands, especially on a woman.  I’m not one for dainty, perfectly manicured hands. Give me strong work-worn hands with a firm grip over pale wimpy ones any day.

When I was traveling in India and Bangladesh last year, I often found myself captivated by women’s hands.  As in most developing countries, the women tend to do the lion’s share of the work, especially on the farm.  I’ve seen women maneuver plows, haul boats ashore, hand-wash their laundry on rocks by the river, cook meals over small household fire pits, carry water in large earthenware jugs, weave baskets, care for children, the sick, and the elderly, pound wheat into flour, carry home the firewood, dig up fresh potatoes, and build their homes out of twigs and mud.  Such strong hands I have seen in so many places!

This weekend I tried to capture some of that strength in my painting.  I haven’t done watercolour in a few months, so it was lovely to have some time on Friday to get lost in the paints again.

It turns out hands are really hard to paint. Almost as hard as faces. My first attempts kept looking more like claws than hands.  In the end I was more satisfied with the hands in the bottom two frames than the face in the top.  (The face gave me no end of trouble because I was trying to capture the shadows that were cast on that really sunny day when we met Mina Baidya, the woman with the water jug. It’s close, but not quite right.)  I find it interesting that even though these photos were taken in 3 different regions (2 in India and one in Bangladesh), all of the women were wearing the same bracelets.  And all three were wearing beautiful, brilliantly coloured saris even thought it was just an ordinary work day for them.

Note: it’s not the best photo of it, since I had to take it inside with the flash. Plus it wasn’t on a flat surface, so the top looks a little warped.  If you’re interested in seeing the original photos, look here, here, and here

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