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Blood Water Paint
Cover of Blood Water Paint
Blood Water Paint
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"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...
"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...
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  • "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



  • From the cover 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
    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.
    Light dances on the child’s curls
    and whether Father sees
    or not
    the bond between the baby
    and his mother is
    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.

    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...

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



  • 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.

  • AudioFile Magazine Based on a true story and read by skilled narrator Xe Sands, this coming-of-age novel commemorates Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Early on, Sands entwines notes of patience and wistfulness into Artemisia's voice as the girl spends her days studying her father's trade and reminiscing about her mother's empowering bedtime tales. Listeners will quickly be swept away by the steady rhythm of Sands's words as she reveals Artemisia's life through captivating free verse. After Artemisia is raped by her tutor, Sands's tone shifts from an innocent teen's to a desperate woman's, one who is seeking to remedy her brokenness and is determined to not be silenced by shame or society's view of her. Sands's extraordinary performance throughout this painful yet victorious story is not to be missed. V.C. � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine

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