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Blood Water Paint
Cover of Blood Water Paint
Blood Water Paint
"When I finished this novel, I knew I would be haunted and empowered by Artemisia Gentileschi's story for the rest of my life."—Amanda Lovelace, bestselling author of the princess saves herself in this one
Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint.
She chose paint.
By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.
He will not consume
my every thought.
I am a painter.
I will paint.
Joy McCullough's bold novel in verse is a portrait of an artist as a young woman, filled with the soaring highs of creative inspiration and the devastating setbacks of a system built to break her. McCullough weaves Artemisia's heartbreaking story with the stories of the ancient heroines, Susanna and Judith, who become not only the subjects of two of Artemisia's most famous paintings but sources of strength as she battles to paint a woman's timeless truth in the face of unspeakable and all-too-familiar violence.
I will show you
what a woman can do.
★"A captivating and impressive debut about a timeless heroine."—Booklist, starred review
★"Belongs on every YA shelf."—SLJ, starred review
★"A haunting, stirring depiction of an unforgettable woman."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★"Luminous."—Shelf Awareness, starred review
"When I finished this novel, I knew I would be haunted and empowered by Artemisia Gentileschi's story for the rest of my life."—Amanda Lovelace, bestselling author of the princess saves herself in this one
Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint.
She chose paint.
By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.
He will not consume
my every thought.
I am a painter.
I will paint.
Joy McCullough's bold novel in verse is a portrait of an artist as a young woman, filled with the soaring highs of creative inspiration and the devastating setbacks of a system built to break her. McCullough weaves Artemisia's heartbreaking story with the stories of the ancient heroines, Susanna and Judith, who become not only the subjects of two of Artemisia's most famous paintings but sources of strength as she battles to paint a woman's timeless truth in the face of unspeakable and all-too-familiar violence.
I will show you
what a woman can do.
★"A captivating and impressive debut about a timeless heroine."—Booklist, starred review
★"Belongs on every YA shelf."—SLJ, starred review
★"A haunting, stirring depiction of an unforgettable woman."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★"Luminous."—Shelf Awareness, starred review
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Excerpts-
  • From the book 11.


    Once upon a time
    I was a child,
    not the woman
    of the house.

    Not so long ago
    but long enough
    the days of tugging
    on my mother's skirts
    in hopes of being lifted up
    at every whim
    are hazy round the edges,
    like a shadow bleeding
    into light.

    It's hazy how,
    her belly round
    with brothers,
    Mother still made room
    for me to crawl
    up on her lap
    to hear a story
    no one else would tell.

    How she'd look down
    and ask me what I thought
    of Father's paintings,
    listen to my answer.

    It's hazy how
    she made my father
    laugh.
    How when I'd startle
    in the night she'd soothe me
    with a tune
    to chase away
    the monsters.

    It's hazy how
    her last few weeks,
    confined to bed,
    the child inside
    a greater weight
    than those who came before,
    and even when the child arrived

    a sister, finally, cold and blue,

    and fever dreams bled
    into pain laced with delirium,
    Prudentia Montone spent
    the last of her strength
    to burn into my mind
    the tales of women
    no one else would
    think to tell.

    Those stories
    of a righteous woman,
    her virtue questioned
    through no fault of her own;
    of a widow
    with nothing left to lose . . .
    No way to tell
    where shadow ends
    and light begins

    but Mother was always
    the light.


    12.

    Light dances on the child's curls
    and whether Father sees
    or not
    the bond between the baby
    and his mother is
    perfection.

    Twelve years
    with my mother
    were not enough
    but I know how to paint the love,
    the source of light.

    The final touches that remain
    would go unnoticed to an unskilled eye.
    In truth, I could release her now.
    A signature the final touch,

    Orazio Gentileschi,
    (never Artemisia)

    the client would be satisfied,
    and none would be the wiser.

    But I would know
    her arm is
    not quite right.
    It wraps around the baby,
    yet still looks flat.

    Father babbled out
    some useless nonsense
    when I tried to ask him
    how to fix the problem.
    I don't think
    he understood
    my question.
    If he cannot see
    the problem to begin with,
    how could he ever solve it?

    It's only a commission,
    doesn't even bear my name.
    But I'm not only painting the Madonna.
    I'm building a ladder,
    each new technique,
    a rung.

    13.

    Every time my father shoos me
    down the stairs
    away from my studio,
    each time he speaks to buyers
    as though I am not there,
    each time they leer at me
    as I descend in seething fury,
    my mother's stories
    stoke the flames inside.

    We mostly deal in Bible tales,
    some portraits, ancient histories, myths.
    But all the maestros
    sign their names
    to David, Adam, Moses.
    Those who follow strive
    to leave their mark as well.

    I can paint a David—king or upstart boy,
    but when I do
    there's nothing of me
    on the canvas.
    Susanna, though, is different.

    My mother never held a brush
    but still composed
    the boldest images
    from the brightest colors
    drawing the eye—the mind—
    to what mattered most:

    the young woman
    stealing a moment
    of peace to wash
    away the day

    then her world,
    stained beyond repair.

    Susanna and...

Reviews-
  • School Library Journal

    January 1, 2018

    Gr 8 Up-Artemisia Gentileschi, 17-year-old daughter of a mediocre Renaissance painter, assists her choleric father Orazio in his studio, mixing colors but, moreso, trying to save face for him by finishing paintings that he is incapable of completing. Remembering the stories of strong biblical women which her now-deceased mother recounted to her-stories meant to strengthen her womanly resolve in a society that valued only men-Artemisia is determined to be the painter her father will never be; thus, when her father hires Agostino Tassi (Tino) to teach her perspective, she is thrilled to have someone who can help her achieve new artistic heights. As she paints Susanna and the Elders, her relationship with Tino changes, and he finally seduces her. At first she is emboldened by his "love," but, when she realizes that he has simply used her, she is determined to bring him to court in an effort to save her honor. Using free verse for Artemisia's words and prose for her mother's stories, McCullough's beautifully crafted text will inspire upper-middle/high school readers to research the true story upon which this powerful piece of historical fiction is based. The poetry is clear and revelatory, exploring Artemisia's passion for both art and life. The expression of her intense feelings is gripping and her complexity of character make her a force to be reckoned with, both in her times and in ours. VERDICT A thrilling portrait of a woman of character who refused to be dismissed; this belongs on every YA shelf.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    January 15, 2018
    Baroque artist and feminist icon Artemisia Gentileschi is given voice in a debut verse novel.Only 17, Artemisia is already a more gifted painter than her feckless father. But in 17th-century Rome, the motherless girl is only grudgingly permitted to grind pigment, prepare canvas, and complete commissions under his signature. So when the charming Agostino Tassi becomes her tutor, Artemisia is entranced by the only man to take her work seriously...until he resorts to rape. At first broken in body and spirit, she draws from memories of her mother's stories of the biblical heroines Susanna and Judith the strength to endure and fight back the only way she can. Artemisia tells her story in raw and jagged blank verse, sensory, despairing, and defiant, interspersed with the restrained prose of her mother's subversive tales. Both simmer with impotent rage at the injustices of patriarchal oppression, which in the stories boils over into graphic sexual assault and bloody vengeance. While the poems (wisely) avoid explicitly depicting either Artemisia's rape or subsequent judicial torture, the searing aftermath, physical and mental, is agonizingly portrayed. Yet Artemisia's ferocious passion to express herself in paint still burns most fiercely. Unfortunately, those who lack familiarity with the historical facts or context may emerge from this fire scorched but not enlightened. McCullough's Rome is a white one. A brief note in the backmatter offers sexual-violence resources.Nonetheless, an incandescent retelling both timeless and, alas, all too timely. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 14-adult)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 16, 2018
    McCullough's debut, told primarily in verse, introduces 17-year-old Artemisia Gentileschi, who was in real life a talented young painter during the Italian Baroque period. Grudgingly trained by her father and forced to sign his name to her clearly superior work, Artemisia chafes against the confines of being a woman in a male-dominated world. When an established artist takes an interest in her, Artemisia reaches for the opportunity to improve her craft, but she soon learns that his interest is less than noble and her protestations are no protection. Interspersed throughout Artemisia's story are those of ancient heroines Susanna and Judith, two women who stand against men who covet their bodies and seek to destroy. As Artemisia tries to tell the truths of these women on canvas ("I know/ what it is to be watched,/ to be leered at what it is to be a thing"), she grows into her own power and finds the strength to stand against her own rapist. A haunting, stirring depiction of an unforgettable woman, Artemisia's story will resonate deeply with readers today and beyond. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.

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