Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: Blood Water Paint
Author: Joy McCullough
Format: Hard copy purchased from Book Outlet

A debut novel based on the true story of the iconic painter, Artemisia Gentileschi.

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.

I will show you
what a woman can do.



This is not a novel I would normally reach for.

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Quotes from Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

I just finished reading Blood Water Paint and I’m still ruminating on this novel.

If you aren’t familiar with it – as I wasn’t before I came across it on Book Outlet – this is a feminist YA historical fiction novel based on the true story of the young female artist Artemisia Gentileschi in the late 1500 – early 1600s.

Trigger warnings for abuse, rape, beheadings, and lots of blood.

I’ve decided to share some of my favorite quotes from this novel. I could easily just copy and paste the entire thing because I adored it so much, however, I’ll just choose my favorites:

In a moment of madness
(or clarity)
my ambition
burns a hole in the ceiling,
allows the light
a direct path to
my canvas.

I wish men
would decide
if women were heavenly
angels on high,
or earthbound sculptures
for their gardens.

But either way we’re beauty
for consumption.

Beauty is a heavy crown.
So is womanhood.

Watch your passion.
It’s dangerous

What can he tell a woman about danger?

Brush in hand.
I do not move.

I used to know
what it was for
but now I can’t
connect to this thing
to any purpose.

His voice
His breath
His breadth
are always in my thoughts
but why
is he here
in the flesh?
He should be covered in my blood.

(Imagine a man who stands
up for a woman’s trugh.)

If Judith had a sword
to weild at this moment
I’d never get the blood
off my walls.

But that’s the thing about perspective
The slightest shift
transforms the subject

I’ve choked on truth
for so many weeks
and now it’s finally out
I’m outraged
Father didn’t know.

I won’t let him
avert his eyes
any longer.

My story does not waiver.
I paint the blood
they do not want to see.
If I must bear the wounds
then they can stand to look
upon them for a moment.
They’ll have the luxury
of forgetting.

Those women who dare
to judge
your heart
by your body
will never have
an ounce of your worth.

Women who speak truth.
And listen to me, love.
When a woman risks
her place, her very life to speak
a truth the world despises?
Believe her. Always.

“Those two lechers will be stoned because of what you did!”
“They’ll be stoned because of what THEY did.”
(This is so important, love. They’ll be stoned because of what THEY did.)
But Susanna knows she will spend the rest of her live reliving this, explaining this.

Being in the right is not always the solace you might expect.

There will come a day,
when this horror is not the
only color on the palette.

I do not know painting.
I do know something of pain.

I will show you
what a woman can do.