In 1964, Olitski abandoned the series of stained paintings which had occupied him for three years and inaugurated a technique of spraying mists of pigment directly onto his canvases with a spray gun. He traces the inception of the spray technique to the autumn of 1964, when he and Anthony Caro were visiting Kenneth Noland at Noland's studio in Shaftsbury, Vermont:
Tony said something, I think he wanted to emphasize the materiality of sculpture, the denseness or the weight. I think that I may have responded facetiously (I am not sure of all this in retrospect), that I wanted an art that was the opposite of materiality. Let's say in painting, if I could have a spray of color that somehow remained intact. Shortly thereafter, it struck me that like some funny things said, there was something being said internally within that, and, I think almost perhaps the very next day I went out and rented a spray gun and tried to do it... (Quoted in T. Hilton, "Jules Olitski," in exh. cat., Jules Olitski, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Inc., New York, 1990, p. 59)
Olitski concentrated almost exclusively upon his spray paintings until 1973, developing various techniques for directing and controlling the pigment, exploring the different effects produced by different spray guns, and so on. In Hope of Angelique, a diaphanous haze of pale blues and pinks suffuses the canvas, creating a fine network of tints and blushes that seem to shimmer and glow. Like all of Olitski's spray paintings, the present canvas was cropped after the paint was applied, and a fine line of pigment was drawn at the right side to accentuate this edge. In 1965, in one of the few statements on art that Olitski published, he described the effect of this technique as painting "from inside out:"
Painting is made from inside out. I think of paintings as possessed by a structure--i.e. shape and size, support and edge--but a structure born of color feeling... I begin with color. The development of a color structure ultimately determines its expansion or compression--its outer edge. Outer edge is inescapable. I recognize the line it declares, as drawing... (Quoted in ibid., p. 60)
The spray paintings were widely exhibited and received significant acclaim; critics praised "the disembodied texture of the sprayed canvases, their great size, the thrilling and decisive drawing at the very edge of the picture, and the unparalleled sensation both of space and time bestowed by the sheer quality of colour, singular but fastidiously modulated..." (ibid., p. 61). Dominique Fourcade has provided one of the most eloquent explications of the series:
Olitski's painting is distinguished and characterized by the inner tension of its surface. This tension, unequaled today in either its intrinsic strength or its outward expression, takes form in the density, cohesion, and homogeneity of the pictorial texture...a texture of paint which is arranged, spread, and exposed like film, yet at the same time appearing endowed with a powerful introversion... It is a style of painting which remains within itself and strives for its own interiority. In short, these are paintings about painting...
[Olitski] creates a surface which is holistic and dense, even condensed and compressed, an entity massively there, an autonomous and homogeneous field which dominates and neutralizes the rectangular space of the painting solely through its internal strength... Drawing does not define its structure (its texture is its only drawing, its only dynamism, its newfound strength). There are no more contours; there is only the spreading of the paint... (D. Fourcade, "Jules Olitski," in exh. cat., Jules Olitski, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Inc., New York, 1990, pp. 79-80)