There are few expressions of art as soft and whimsical as watercoloring and it’s for that very reason that artist Debra Cartwright decided to use this tool to paint Black women in a new light, literally.

We all know the stereotype of Black women as angry, hard, strong, unmovable, and while those qualities aren’t bad in and of themselves, they overshadow our other characteristics: our softness, our inquisitive nature, our simplicity, our beauty. It’s the latter that Cartwright has brought out in her portraits, omitting the stereotype of the emasculating Black woman in favor of the feminine one.

“In my work, I show another side of black women,” the Harlem-based artist told The Huffington Post.

“There’s enough heaviness around black women with stress, societal pressures, beauty standards. We’re seen as ‘angry’ when we have opinions, our hair [is] ‘unprofessional’ or ‘militant’ when it’s just how it grows out of our head. I seek to portray us as soft, feminine and carefree. The fluidity of watercolors really lends to that message. I continue loosening my technique with watercolor and it feels even more powerful. Other mediums are too tactile. I love the ethereal quality of that medium.

“I hope to combat the strong black woman trope. I want to portray us as any other woman would want to be represented: feminine, vulnerable, beautiful. There’s beauty in embracing femininity.”

“Black women deal with so much in this country and around the world. Beauty standards, workplace discrimination, police brutality, fighting for basic woman rights. It’s insane. These whimsical spaces I paint are a safe space, an escape from all the harshness injected on us daily. I hope that others take solace in my work and just exhale with me.”

Take a look at Cartwright’s watercolor paintings which are literally a breath of fresh air. For more on this dope artist, visit her site, Debracartwright.com.

Image Credit: Debra Cartwright

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  • PrimmestPlum

    Watercolor is so frustrating to work with but when you ca master it, the results are gorgeous. I think I may have seen some of her digital pieces on tumblr before. Great work.

  • Ms. A