11 Food had doubled in price because of the war.
Lawrence’s variation in brushwork and juxtaposition of flat, opaque passages next to more transparent ones is evident in Panel 11. Here Lawrence varies the textural qualities of his paint to contrast forms and elicit a mood. The woman, child, and table are painted in uniformly applied thick paint with no evident brush strokes. In a single line, Lawrence is able to convey the asymmetrical tilt of the sharply shifted shoulders of the woman as she uses all her weight to cut through the thick slab of fatback. The figures are set off in space by the vibrant brushwork on the green wall behind them. This spontaneous, expressive manipulation of the green paint, which has a life of its own, places the mood of the scene as a serious one. The simplicity and severity of the wood floor is effectively rendered using a dry brush technique, a device Lawrence skillfully employs throughout the series to describe certain textures.
Excerpted from Elizabeth Steele and Susana M. Halpine, “Precision and Spontaneity: Jacob Lawrence’s Materials and Techniques,” Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series (Washington, DC: The Rappahannock Press in association with The Phillips Collection, 1993): 157.