They are, and for good reason! Cate is beautiful, sultry and is wearing quite a sexy bikini on the beach. Those are good reasons to look, and hopefully enjoy your own memories of fun in the sun. But there is more to this painting than the obvious sexy girl in a bikini.
Composition is so key to a successful image but composition is rarely taught beyond the "rules of thirds" and so many artists and creators ponder why their image just doesn't compel the viewer. I have spent a lot of study on the great masters and the key to their most successful compositions. I have studied Dynamic Symmetry, Fibonacci, the golden section, and other systems that use proportionally designed grids to make an image powerful and arresting.
I even went as far as to buy hand forged proportional dividers from one of only two artisans making such a tool in Australia!
Shapes, values, and color are more key elements used to direct the eye and when used to their best advantage lock in your viewer in wonder.
Let me mention that your subject matter should also be compelling! So why does Cate's Turquoise Bikini draw you in so well and glue your eyes to her.
She is close to centrally located and fills the canvas from top to bottom, that alone makes her close to life-size and in your face. She gazes directly at you and sparks your imagination about what her eyes are saying. Her body is twisted in an S shape and her bent arms lead you up and around her head. The horizon line runs just below her nose locking you in to her face. Light and shadow make patterns that keep your eye moving.
The background is highly energetic, with frantic textured waves whose direction echo the arms and reinforce your eye traveling direction. Intensity of color value is used to bounce her skin forward of the ocean. She is smooth, the ocean is rough.
Lastly, she is a controversial subject, painted by a woman painter. Being a young sexy girl in a bikini could bring a rash of sexism criticism, but for me I was celebrating the confidence of this beautiful young woman who laughed, giggled, played in the water like a kid, and then threw her arms up to give me this pose. Besides, this is a stage in a girls life where she can flaunt the power of her beauty and that's a universal story.