Ogunquit, Maine, became Woodbury’s primary home in 1897, and the school which he subsequently established there helped to shape the town as a major artists’ colony. Rather than focus on technique in his lessons, Woodbury’s teaching philosophy emphasized expression and careful observation of one’s subject: “The actual manipulation of the brush is a skillful matter, and yet it requires more intelligence than manual dexterity. Art is psychology, not science, and there must be one unknown factor, the personal equation. You must know what you see, why you see, and what is worth seeing.” These attributes are clearly shown in Red and Lavender Bathing Suits, in which groupings of beachgoers are defined with the artist’s vigorous brushwork, eliminating the need for including every detail. Woodbury’s perceptive sense of light and color is also revealed in the variable surface of the sand and rolling surf, and the evidence of sand in the actual painting indicates this scene was captured en plein air.
 Woodbury, Charles H. Painting and the Personal Equation. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1919, p. 95.
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Ogunquit drew artists as well as tourists to its shores, therefore beachgoers played an integral part of Woodbury’s work, as noted by Charles F. Kelley in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s 1945 exhibition catalogue: “Another outstanding characteristic was his constant use of figures in his compositions, but they were no mere human vegetables placed wherever an accent was needed, – they were always actively doing something, echoing or building up the mood of the composition.” Working with nearly 100 students each summer, Woodbury taught by example and individual criticism, and eventually published three books: Painting and the Personal Equation (1919), Observation: Visual Training through Drawing (1922), and The Art of Seeing: Mental Training through Drawing (1925).
 Kelley, Charles Fabens. Charles Herbert Woodbury: Exhibition of Oils and Water Colors. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1945, exhibition catalogue, p. 7
Estate of the artist
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. W-13, 1978
To private collection, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, March 1979 to present
(verso of board, not in the artist’s hand) RED AND LAVENDER / BATHING SUITS
- Previous Vose Galleries label, inventory no. W-13
- Estate stamp, with number 25
Charles H. Woodbury, N.A. (1864-1940), Vose Galleries, Boston, From September 26, 1978