This untitled pastel painting by Ellen Plankey depicts a young woman sitting on a blanket. She is wearing a dark blue skirt and a baby blue cloth wrapped around her head. Positioned to her right, she gazes into the distance. The striking contrast between light and shadow accentuates one of her breasts, while the other is obscured. The scene is adorned with leafy bushes, creating a natural setting. The pale orange sky, reminiscent of faded salmon, subtly peeks through the foliage.
The shadows on her body have splotches from the openings between the leaves. The overall effect is very gentle and delicate. “Young Girl on Blanket” incorporates intermediate colors such as soft shades of pink, blue, green, and orange. All the lines in this painting are curvaceous, including the rippling edge of the blanket that seems to blend with the grass, giving it a rounded appearance like a boxy oval rather than a rectangle. The girl’s body has gentle curves that subtly highlight her femininity. Additionally, the only solid lines in the painting are the outlines of her figure and clothing.
All of the shrubbery surrounding the girl has a soft and fuzzy appearance, causing it to blend into the background and allowing the girl to stand out. The colors around the girl, although subdued, are darker compared to her fair skin tone, drawing attention to her instead of her surroundings. The first thing that caught my eye was her baby blue head wrap, and then my gaze drifted down to the rest of her. The painting titled “Young girl on Blanket” immediately captivated me. I was highly fascinated by the softness portrayed in the artwork.
It brought back memories of a painting from my great grandmother’s collection, one that I have seen before, and immediately a feeling of nostalgia washed over me. Even though I have never experienced sitting topless in a field, I could easily connect with the image. It portrays a beautiful day, with the sun either beginning to set or about to rise, and the girl soaking in the surrounding beauty. Additionally, the girl’s body language adds to the intrigue of the painting, with her appearing shy as she supports her weight with one arm at her side while the other is tucked between her legs.
She’s looking off to her right, but her head is tilted down as if she is shying away or embarrassed by something. Additionally, there is a slight grin on her face which contrasts the rest of her body language and suggests a mischievousness that provides a clue to her true thoughts. The pure and soft colors in the painting may indicate that she is just beginning to emerge from her reserved nature. It is evident that she has reached puberty as her breasts have developed, and her defined waist and hips are noticeable as she leans over, hinting at the possibility that this might be her first encounter with someone.
Despite the possibility of alluding to an experience, the essence of “Young Girl on Blanket” remains pure and sweet. The depicted young woman sits topless in a field with a shy beauty about her, as she shies away. However, her slight smirk is endearing, reflecting the artist’s intention. It is likely that the young girl is clandestinely venturing out with someone, experiencing something for the first time. Consequently, she appears shy and coy, yet simultaneously excited and anticipatory. This explains why she maintains a subtle smile throughout. Personally, I thoroughly appreciate “Young Girl on Blanket”.
This painting evokes a sense of nostalgia. It reminds me of my childhood, specifically the moments spent in my great grandmother’s house where I used to admire her delicate and feminine paintings, much like this one. The colors and the gentle brush strokes surrounding the girl captivate my attention, drawing all focus towards her. These strokes almost serve as a protective cushion, partially concealing her and leaving room for curiosity. The girl is enveloped by her surroundings, which resemble a cloud, particularly the baby pink blanket she sits on. This element contributes to the overall soft and airy feel of the artwork.
The leaves appear blurred and almost fuzzy, giving the impression of a dark backdrop rather than actual shrubbery. Despite featuring partial nudity, I appreciate the sweetness of the painting. The girl’s skirt has a cute A-line shape, with only the waistband fitting closely, which prevents her from appearing overly sexualized. In general, I admire the beauty of “Young Girl on Blanket.” Typically, when nudity is depicted, I feel somewhat uncomfortable observing it. However, in this particular artwork, I simply admire both the girl and her environment.