"Haunting ... teems with raw emotion, and McCullough deftly captures the experience of learning to behave in a male-driven society and then breaking outside of it."—The New Yorker
"I will 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
A William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist
2018 National Book Award Longlist
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."—Booklist, starred review
★"Belongs on every YA shelf."—SLJ, starred review
★"Haunting."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★"Luminous."—Shelf Awareness, starred review
|Publisher:||Penguin Young Readers Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Joy McCullough writes books and plays from her home in the Seattle area, where she lives with her family. She studied theater at Northwestern University, fell in love with her husband atop a Guatemalan volcano, and now spends her days surrounded by books and kids and chocolate. Her debut novel, Blood Water Paint, was longlisted for National Book Award and was a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award.
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Excerpted from "Blood Water Paint"
Copyright © 2019 Joy McCullough.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A verse novel, where multiple pieces of verse are mixed throughout the tale bring the emotions forward, as Artemisia’s pain, anger and determination step forward to take readers into the tumult she is experiencing in a life full of subjugation, loss, abuse and memory of her mother’s stories lead us through the tale. Losing her mother when she was 12, Artemisia had two choices – enter the convent or continue the life she had been leading: mixing pigment and painting, with no hope for recognition of her own talents. She chose to stay. A life of coddling her brothers and serving her father: painting commissions that he would sign his name to, hidden away from the world with only memories of her mother’s stories and love her company. When her father is jockeying for a new commission that will bring money and recognition, she is introduced to a ‘teacher’, one who recognized her talent, but used flattery and Artemisia’s own recognition of her place (in fact, all women’s place) in society – raping her and then callously disregarding her claims and her art. Unwilling to sit back, she uses the strength gained from her mother’s stories: tales of biblical women who’s strength, courage and daring defied convention of the time and the patriarchy to take a stand and make their stories known. Artemisia shares her story of rape and abuse, and the case: though multiple witnesses for the defense that impugn her character and womanhood, the defense based solely on making the victim the guilty party. When her only recourse in testimony is the rack-like contraption that, using bandage and pressure, pulls her hands apart- the rapist is found guilty because the court finally believes her story. Holding tightly to two women of her mother’s stories, Judith and Susanna, the damage to her hands heals slowly, but her spirit, while bruised and bashed about, buoyed by what is now a sisterhood with the two women of her mother’s stories, she starts to paint again: slowly and painfully, because the paint is all that makes her whole. Memorable as much for what is not: the lack of rights for women, the lack of opportunity, the lack of her father’s protection, the lack of the maid’s support, lack of a mother to hold and guide her, even a lack of literacy: STILL Artemisia manages to tell a story of determination and persistence. The need to move forward and share her own view of the world and those she commits to canvas, the need to continue: perhaps not without fear of what may happen, but recognizing that even when the worst has happened – there is more after. Originally a play, the verse does play into a sense of character for Artemisia: understanding that she could not read, and that her life truly consisted of the attic studio, the house below, and occasional trips to the market in their tiny neighborhood of Rome, the verse speaks to more. It’s verse that expresses great pain and longing, and if occasionally immature in the construct, it feels as if a teenager (even one in the 17th century) could have written it – bringing a solid emotion forward. I’m still undecided if this is a story appropriate for younger teens because of the rawness of content, I do think that it is a story that needed telling: both as a piece that shows survival, but for the way Artemisia’s mother tried to warn her of the dangers of being a woman in a man’s world. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compen
This book is heartbreaking but so powerful at the same time. The majority of this book is written in verse with the stories of Judith and Susanna told by Artemisia's mother written in prose, which was extremely effective. Artemisia is an artist but never gets credit for her work, her father gets all the credit. She was such a strong character, who spoke out when in the time period that this book takes place women weren't supposed to speak out. There were so many powerful quotes in this book, but I have to say my favorite quote was the quote that ended the book "I will show you what a woman can do." It was such a powerful way to end an already powerful book.
Blood Water Paint is an excellent addition to my verse collection. It is a strong and powerful book that will stick with me for the years to home. Artemesia is a strong character that shows her emotions through painting. Along with her mother’s stories, Artemesia has the strength to stand up for herself in a time period that didn’t except that men did anything wrong. If you're looking for a book with strong female figures, Blood Water Paint is for you.
This is hard to read. Not just because I'm not usually a verse person, but because it's so painful and real. Blood Water Paint is beautiful and haunting and it doesn't hold back. It tells the story of the women who have long been objects for men and the ways they fight back - a story that takes place in the past, but is painfully relevant today. I wasn't familiar with Artemisia before this book came to my attention and I'm so glad I've been given a chance to get to know her through this book and hopefully through more to come.
As powerful and inspiring and rage-inducing as its language was beautiful. I wished it had been longer, if only because I was so curious about how Artemisia came to advance her painting career and create some of her more famous works in the aftermath of her rape, but that's my only real complaint with the story. Everything else--from the characterization, to the intermingling of the Bible stories with Artemisia's story, to her passion for her art--was perfection.
In 1600s Rome, Artemisia Gentileschi has few choices in life: she could be a nun, she could be ruled by a husband, or she could grind pigment for her father’s paint. Though no one knew her as an artist, she was brimming with talent and passion for painting. Told in verse, this novel follows Artemisia’s young life as she battles a patriarchal world, is raped, and is repeatedly silenced. But most of all, she paints images that will one day become legend, expressing emotion and color that transcends centuries. Prior to reading BLOOD WATER PAINT, I admit that I did not know who Artemisia Gentileschi was. After doing a quick search, I recognized some of her paintings inspired by Susanna and Judith, but I’m not sure I ever heard her name. This incredible novel shines light on someone who should be as well known, if not more so, as Leonardo di Vinci or Michelangelo. Gentileschi’s life was the picture of provincial. As a woman in her time, she had little power or respect. Joy McCullough expresses Gentileschi’s frustration, pain, and sadness over this without making her situation seem hopeless. Not only is she not allowed to be known as an incredible artist, but she is also aware that telling anyone about her sexual assault could lead to anything from severe societal ostracization to criminal punishment. A major theme in her journey is figuring out how to find catharsis, how to find support, and how to find justice in an unjust world. Nothing seems as fitting as telling this artist’s story in verse. McCullough’s language is breathtaking and punching. The scenes of Gentileschi painting have magical imagery. I often found myself pausing to look up the painting she was working on and was just amazed at both her talent and McCullough’s precise craft that captured Gentileschi’s artistic development. BLOOD WATER PAINT is a great addition to the historical fiction shelf, not only highlighting an underrepresented artist but also providing an emotional manifestation of the power of art, whether that is written art or visual.
This book has not gotten nearly enough hype. I wouldn't have picked it up if Rachel hadn't bought it and read it in like, an hour so it was just lying around the apartment. I am so glad I picked it up. The verse and voices are so, so wonderfully developed into real characters that you can pick off the page. Artemisia Gentileschi is a fairly famous Baroque painter from Italy--she was not only a woman who painted (and painted spectacularly) but she took her mentor to trial after he raped her. She won her case (as much as you can win such things in Renaissance Rome) despite all the ways society and men try to get her to recant her truth. It makes for a wrenching story and incredibly moving poetry. And, if you're like me, you'll adore the fact that Artemisia painted herself into Judith Slaying Holofernes and gave Holofernes the face of her rapist as Judith saws his head off with a sword. Painting that picture was an incredible fraught portion of the novel, and it captured emotions so beautifully. Anyway, read it. It won't take you long. It's a beautiful deconstruction of the power of women, voice, truth against the reality of patriarchy.
This book is written alternately in verse and in prose. The verse is the young woman, Artemisia, so alive and vibrant, but struggling under the tutelage of her untalented painter father. We get a picture of what it's like to be stuck. She has to struggle to be the woman of the house all the while being the bread-winner because her father's commissions need to be completed-- and she's the one to do them. Alternately, the prose is the stories of her mother who died when Artemisia was young. She is long gone, but her voice is so complete. She tells the stories that Artemisia needs to get through her difficult life, even before she is raped, and subsequently the rape, trial, and getting back to painting. My students often tell me that poetry is harder to read because it's so much more "incomplete." I kept thinking about this as I read because of the switching back and forth between prose and poetry. The life of Artemisia is incomplete at the time, she's trying to figure out life, she is still young, her thoughts are scattered. Her mother's story is prose and therefore more complete, and yet hers was the life cut short. It is the remembered life and stories of a child-- they seem as though they should be more nebulous and scattered like poetry can offer us, yet they are in prose. I loved this complexity. It invited me to think about author choice and it will open amazing discussions with my students. I also loved that this book invited me to stop and look things up. I was very religious in my teen years and I didn't know these stories. It was really cool to look them up and realize that they were such important religious stories at the time, but that they were not a part of the texts that I studied. It's an important insight into where and how emphasis in religion can change over time. I looked up the paintings of Artemisia. I marveled at how gorgeous they were. I hope that this book invites my own students to do so as well.
"I will show you what a woman can do." When I was given the opportunity to participate in a blog tour for this book’s release, I was absolutely elated. I didn’t know much about the writing itself, but I knew that it was historical fiction (check), feminist (check), widely beloved by a slew of my favorite authors (check), and about an actual human being (check). Those were all of the traits that I was expecting, but what I wasn’t expecting was for the book to be written mostly in verse (incredible), partially in second-person narrative (haunting), one of the heaviest and most heart-breaking things I would ever read (devastated me), and one of the single most important works of literature to ever grace my shelf. "I wish men would decide if women are heavenly angels on high, or earthbound sculptures for their gardens. But either way we’re beauty for consumption." Artemisia’s words are beautiful, angry, passionate, and chilling—but if you already know where it’s headed, it’s a tough one to read. Have you ever watched two vehicles collide? It feels like time slows down right before it happens, and of course, you wish you could stop it before it begins, but you’ll never be quick enough. You’ll never manage to go back in time, to put yourself in exactly the right moment, the right space, to prevent these damages from occurring. That feeling—that utter helplessness—was precisely where I found myself through every page I turned. "She did not ask for the beauty that attracted him. She did not ask for gold and jewels. To you these might seem like unimaginable luxuries. But beauty is a heavy crown. So is womanhood." The painter isn’t some flawlessly happy protagonist: she’s angry, exhausted, and bitter, but in all the best ways. At such a young age, she’s already seen enough of the world to become jaded. We don’t have to watch Artemisia learn distrust—it’s already there, right where it’s been since the day of her birth. Right where it’s been since the day any baby girl is born into a world that wants to raise her like a lamb for the slaughter. "That’s just the way of things. I beg and fight and scrape for scraps while he just has to glance upon a thing to make it his." I adored Artemisia’s tenacity, her weariness with the world of men, because I related so strongly to it. After twenty-five years on this earth, I’ve seen and felt enough to nearly lose hope, and in the verses our painter weaves, there’s this beautiful, bittersweet sort of comfort. There’s a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, a voice saying, ”I know you’re angry. I know. Me, too.” It’s everything I wish I’d had as a little girl. It’s everything I want little girls to have, present and future. I want stories that tell young girls, already red-faced from the touches and gazes of society, that it’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to want more, and better. "(Sometimes that’s all you need, my love—another woman’s faith in you.)" Alongside Artemisia’s poetry, we get brief glimpses of her late mother’s bedtime stories in prose. Her mother has passed on years before the story takes place, but the second-person narrative we’re given from her is so beautiful and fiery that it makes it impossible not to love her, despite never actually “meeting” her. We instantly see where Artemisia’s fire comes from. More than that, as a mother, I’m reminded of how easy that flame is to pass on when we nurture its spark. "(If you remember nothing else of Susanna, remember how she speaks her truth. She kn
I first heard of Artemisia Gentileschi on Tumblr - someone had made a post about a painting of hers, and the story behind it. So, when I saw that a book about her was up on Edelweiss, I didn't even hesitate before getting to it. Even though this is a novel in verse,(and I am not really a fan of verse) it is a powerful and symbolic story about her. If you don't know the story, the gist of it is that she was a young female painter in a time when it was extremely rare to be so, and she was raped by a colleague of her father's, and the above painting is sort of a cathartic revenge fantasy in which she puts the man who raped her as the one being decapitated. The novel is written mostly from her perspective, in verse, and the few prose chapters scattered through the novel are written as if being narrated by her mother as a bedtime story. The first thing you notice about Artemisia's characterization is her rage (and it is a focal point at which we keep coming back to) - her rage over not being considered a fine painter in her own right, just because she is a woman; her rage over being taken advantage of because of her position in society; her rage over having to prove her innocence in accusing Agostino Tassi of raping her (if you think that is convoluted, just look at how, even in current times, the onus is on the victims to prove that they are not falsely accusing their rapists) which included multiple interrogations and even torture, and finally her rage over him getting a light sentence. But the other characterization is female solidarity - even though Artemisia was betrayed by the one woman in her life, her art and the story of this book both highlight the support that women can provide to one another. While Artemisia herself had painted many stories in her life, this novel focuses on two artworks by her - the painting above, Judith Slaying Holofernes and Susanna and the Elders, both stories of two different women with different sorts of bravery, and it acknowledges the power of women in various forms. As the people in her life don’t protect her, so she turns to the subjects of her painting, Susanna and Judith, two women with different kinds of resilience, and from whom she draws the strength to prevail through the whole mess. Their stories inspire her, and in the aftermath of her rape, she conjures them as her pseudo guiding lights, and through them, she stands strong to pursue a trial against Tassi. Her relationship with the two main men of the novel - her father and her teacher, Tassi, are also explored in detail. For the former, she is resentful of her father to never recognize her brilliance, or having vision like hers when it comes to the subject of the paintings. As a women, she has a different perspective on how to paint the subjects, and it shows in how she allows her women to be the focus of the story of her paintings, and not just decorations or stand-ins for some virtuous idea that men attribute to women. And with Tassi, she goes from infatuation to disgust as she realizes what kind of man he is - at first she thinks he recognizes her talent but it soon becomes apparent he just wants to get into her skirts. We also see her hopes and dreams, and her innocence being shattered when she realizes that for all her talent, she still won’t even be seen as an equal to men, and then after the verdict, the horror that he will still be free enough to harm another girl. And then the aftermath of her trial, when she starts to physically
“I wish men would decide if women are heavenly angels on high, or earthbound sculptures for their gardens.” Wow. This book was so heavy and powerful and important. Blood Water Paint is a historical novel told in verse following the life of 17th century painter, Artemisia Gentileschi, from the loss of her mother at an early age to her rape and the trial that followed. Blood Water Paint is a moving story about women and power and resolve and it can’t be praised enough. Things I Liked This was so character driven in the best possible way. I feel like novels told in verse are incredibly internal and that worked so beautifully here. I felt Artemisia’s fear, frustration, and drive. She was real, so I connected with her on a personal level and her story affected me on a personal level. This entire story was a commentary on rape culture, agency, and power and I love how it was handled. Dissecting who’s believed, who’s valued, who’s punished through her art and her personal life was so raw and parallelled both beautifully and tragically. Along with the heavier topics, I loved that the story highlighted the importance of female solidarity and having allies who will believe and support you. I loved seeing Artemisia beginning to explore her own beauty and being a painter and defying societal expectations. We see her her incredible bravery, even in the face of public shaming and hatred. Quotes “My back aches not only from the weight of the child I bare, but from all I must carry as a woman.” “But that’s the thing about perspective. The slightest shift transforms the subject.” Things I Didn’t Like I don’t know if is was because this story is so heavy or if it was that blended with the historical period, but I felt like the story was a little long. It didn’t drag and nothing felt like filler, but the story did feel long. Blood Water Paint was a brilliant debut novel that explores and celebrates the bravery of a 17th painter who was not believed or valued because she was a woman, and is finally given her own voice. This was just a really important story and I’m so happy to have read it.