My book, A Peek at Bathsheba, includes a sighting of Bathsheba at mouth of a cave, located just above the Kidron valley, near Jerusalem. The setting immediately brought to my mind A Woman Bathing in a Stream, painted in 1655 by Rembrandt, immediately after he painted Bathsheba at Her Bath.
During the history of art, most artists portrayed Bathsheba as a fleshy, mature woman. They often placed her in a lush outdoor scenery, such as a royal garden, with flowing water or with a fountain. Spotting a forbidden woman in a setting reminiscent of the Garden of Eden is a tempting fantasy, and quite a departure from the biblical account, that states she was bathing on her roof. Artists go after their own heart—and so, indeed, do writers—to suggest the emotional essence of the story.
Rembrandt places his figure not in a garden, but in a cave with a pool of water, which is at once an outdoor and indoor scene (and in Bathsheba at Her Bath he presented her in an indoor scene, in her bedroom.)
Unlike paintings done by other artists—depicting Susanna and the Elders, Bathsheba, or the goddess Diana, who were all spied upon while bathing—this painting does not show the peeping man. Instead, Rembrandt supplants him by you, the viewer. Also, the woman in his painting is in control of the situation, rather than a victim of it.
Rembrandt worked mostly with a grays, browns, and blacks, setting objects back by plunging them into this dark tone, and bringing them forward by shining a bright light directly upon them, creating stark contrasts. The resulting image is sculptural in nature, and strikingly dramatic.
Clearly, the composition of my watercolor painting is inspired by his admirable art, shares a similar spirit of intimacy, and maintains a loving respect for the model. Here is my approach, my homage to it, which illuminates the new vision I use for the story.
I strive to maintain a sculptural feel for Bathsheba, but take the freedom to play with a splash of colors, so as to draw contrasts between cool and warm hues. I create a variety of textures, using a loose, spontaneous brushstroke. This I achieve by applying puddles of pigments over Yupo paper, which (unlike traditional watercolor paper) is non-absorbent. I let these puddles drip in some places, and in other places, I lift and shape them into careful designs, using various tools.
The font selected for the title depicts a regal, dynamically slanted, and rather grandiose handwriting style, just the way I imagine David’s penmanship in his private diary.
By contrast to the title, the font selected for the name of the trilogy—The David Chronicles—is a more formal one, and it is presented in capitals. This adheres to the font scheme for the cover of the first volume, Rise to Power.
At the top, the letters are bathed in golden light, which fades gradually towards the bottom. Down there, they are soaked in a blood red color, as befits this dramatic affair of love and war.
A Peek at Bathsheba is one volume out of a trilogy. Therefore I am designing the spines of all three covers to have a matching feel in terms of the image and font scheme. So when you place them on your bookshelf, one spine next to the other, all three volumes will visually belong together. Together they will grace the look of your library.
Detail from the cover of A Peek at Bathsheba
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