Blood Water Paint
by Joy McCullough
Dutton Books, 2018. 298 pages. Young Adult
After her mother's death, 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 and became one of Rome's most talented painters-- while her father took all the credit. Five years later, in the aftermath of a rape, Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost. Through the ensuing trial and torture, she is buoyed by memories of her mother's stories of strong women of the Bible.
Artemisia Gentileschi has long been one of my favorite artists. I remember the first time I heard her story in a high school drawing class - the smell of my pencil shavings, the feel of the paper, the sound of my teacher's voice, filled with passion and respect for the great woman and artist. Learning of the struggles she faced living in a time with less opportunities and rights afforded to women, and how she overcome and thrived by sheer force of will inspired me so much. I had high hopes for this book, and my every expectation was met. The writing is so evocative and engaging. Written in verse, it read like memories; as Artemisia is reflecting on the memory of her mother's stories, so too did I, as a reader, feel that I was reflecting on memories of Artemisia telling me her story. Or perhaps that Artemisia's voice was reaching through time to me, or a bit of both sensations. Needless to say, I was deeply moved.