Tuesday, January 5, 2021

A Tribute to American Women Leaders



                            
Eleanor Roosevelt    oil on linen   20 x 16 *
  
                       

     "The future belongs  to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"     Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt: diplomat, humanitarian, activist and one of the most beloved and respected women of the 20th Century.



Women leaders need to be acknowledged! 

A revelation came to me while working in the Studio that women's leadership in American history needs to be  recognized and honored.

 I am inspired to begin a series of oil portraits of exceptional American women.

 These women were and are brave, determined, passionate and visionary...they are leaders!

 Women that come to mind are Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Amelia Earhart, Olivia de Havilland, Helen Coley Nauts, Sonia Sotomayor, Rosa Parks, Toni Morrison, Susan B. Anthony,  Clara Barton, Dolores Huerta and Oprah Winfrey to name a few.

For the honorary portraits I will carefully research these distinguished and exceptional women.
Each oil on linen portrait will be carefully composed considering significant details, color, composition and the most relevant time in their lives to be captured on canvas.


 In the past, I had the honor of being commissioned to paint Helen Coley Nauts, an advocate and visionary in the field of early Cancer Immunology and Gloria Steinem, a ground breaking woman's rights advocate, Catherine Lorillard Wolfe, a major philanthropist and supporter of child welfare, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor a champion of equal rights.

 

Helen Coley Nauts                            Gloria Steinem                      Sonia Sotomayor
            Collection Cancer Research Institute     Collection Ms. Foundation      Collection Southern District Court N.Y.


Catharine Lorillard Wolfe  Collection Grace Church, NY .
                               
 
With the "Tribute to American Women Leaders" Project, I will begin a series of oil on linen  portraits which will range in size between 14 x 18 inches to 20 x 24 inches.

I will start this exciting project with the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, "R.B.G" Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, a fierce and dedicated advocate for the advancement of gender equality and women's rights.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has shaped the course of our nations' history through her convictions and voice for dissent. In 1993 she was the second woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg  oil on linen  20 x 16

       
"I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability."    Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Moving forward with my project of portraits of American Women Leaders. 

 
Olivia de Havilland   oil on linen  20 x 16

             "One must take what comes with laughter"   Olivia de Havilland

 

Olivia de Havilland, described as "Satin and Steel" was a  2 time Academy Award winner and the last major leading actress of the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Olivia passed away in 2020 at 104 years old. But she was much more that a wonderful, beautiful and versatile actress...she was a  fearless and tough. She took on the movie studios when they had complete control over their stars. Backed by the Screen Actors Guild, she took Warner Brothers to court in 1943 when they penalized her for turning down roles. The California Supreme Court ruled in her favor in what is now known as the De Havilland Law. All actors today are indebted to her efforts.


Harriet Tubman   oil on linen  21 x 17

            "Every great dream begins with a dreamer." Harriet Tubman

 

Harriet Tubman,  the "Moses of her people" was an escaped slave, who was courageous and committed to  helping other slaves regain their freedom as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. She was never caught and never lost any of her "passengers."  Harriet was also a Union spy, scout, nurse, abolitionist and early supporter of women's suffrage. I chose to portray Harriet as a younger  woman. People usually see an image of her as an old woman...she was only 5 feet tall, but, what that small mighty woman accomplished!


Clara Barton,   oil on linen   20 x 16 
 

 "I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man's work for less than a man's pay." Clara Barton


Clara Barton,  the "angel of the battlefield," was  the founder of the American Red Cross, teacher, nurse, abolitionist, founder of the National First Aid Association of America and an ardent supporter of women's suffrage.


I have also started oil portraits of  Dolores Huerta, Rosa Parks, Mary Harris Jones (Mother Jones), Susan B. Anthony, Oprah Winfrey, and Amelia Earhart.

 I will be adding these finished oil portraits and more to this post in the near future.

 

 

 To learn more about Harriet Tubman and her oil portrait development, visit my blog page:

https://susandurkee.blogspot.com/2021/01/harriet-tubman-moses-of-her-people.html

 

 To learn more about Eleanor Roosevelt and her oil portrait development, visit my blog page: 

https://susandurkee.blogspot.com/2021/01/eleanor-roosevelt-most-beloved-woman-of.html


 

To learn more about Clara Barton and her oil portrait development, visit my blog page:

   https://susandurkee.blogspot.com/2021/01/honoring-with-portraiture-clara-barton.html

 

To see more of my portraiture and larger versions of these portraits please visit my website: www.susandurkee.com

 

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and learn more about these exceptional women leaders!









* Portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt based on a reference photograph by Lotte Johanna Alexandra Jacobi circa 1944



Monday, January 4, 2021

Eleanor Roosevelt, the most beloved woman of the 20th century

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Eleanor Roosevelt     oil on linen, 20 x 16,   Collection of the artist* 


  "In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility."    Eleanor Roosevelt 

 

Eleanor Roosevelt was a trial blazer!

 She was an unstoppable force, not only aiding and campaigning for her husband, President FDR, when he lost the use of his legs, but tirelessly working for the betterment of humanity, woman rights, racial justice and more, making her the most politically active and influential First Lady in American history.

 After FDR's death in 1945, President Truman named her U.S. Delegate to the United Nations. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, was primarily her work, and the delegates gave her a standing ovation for her contribution.

  At Eleanor's memorial service, diplomat Adlai Stevenson said: "She would rather light candles than curse the darkness, and her glow warmed the world"

 

I chose to portray Eleanor Roosevelt, viewed from the side looking upward as I felt that she was such a visionary that this pose conveys her inner vision and strength.

As usual, I begin my portraits with a oil paint block in, just to get a base of color down on the canvas, upon which I will build up layers of paint. At this point, I am not concerned with the likeness during these early stages, as with the building up of layers of paint the facial structure will begin to form and the features will fall into place.  
First day's block in for Eleanor's portrait.   




Building up the paint layers and likeness.

 Finished  portrait

 Eleanor Roosevelt was inducted to the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1973.

 

To learn more about my  "A Tribute to American Women Leaders" project visit this post on my blog:

https://susandurkee.blogspot.com/2020/01/a-tribute-to-american-women-leaders.html

 

 For more information, to contact me or to see more of my portraiture, please visit my website:   www.susandurkee.com 

 Thank you for taking the time to read this honorary blog celebrating such an important American woman leader.

 

 
* Portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt based on a reference photograph by Lotte Johanna Alexandra Jacobi circa 1944




Saturday, January 2, 2021

Harriet Tubman the "Moses of her People."

  

 

  Harriet Tubman   oil on linen  21 x 17  collection of the artist *

 "Every Great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." Harriet Tubman

 

Harriet Tubman: abolitionist, activist, Union spy and scout, nurse, writer, humanitarian and early supporter of woman's suffrage movement.

 Called the  “The Moses of her People” she was a courageous and committed “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. Tubman was never caught and never lost a "passenger" of the nearly 300 slaves  she lead to freedom. Only 5 feet tall, she was strong and fearless, she carried a pistol and dressed in disquises!

Harriet raised funds to help freedmen, and in later years was an activist, joining Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the movement for women's suffrage.

She is considered the first African American woman to serve in the military and died  in 1913, about 93 years old, with full military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn New York.

 As part of this project, "A Tribute to American Women Leaders,"  I have recorded the development of each oil on linen portrait. I thought this would add more viewer engagement with the subject, the portrait and the portrait progress. 

I chose to portray Harriet Tubman as a younger woman, when she was still so strong and vibrant, also, because the public usually sees her photo image as an older woman.

As usual, I begin my portraits with a oil paint block in, just to get a base of color down on the canvas, upon which I will build up layers of paint. At this point, I am not concerned with the likeness during these early stages, as with the building up of layers of paint the facial structure will begin to form and the features will fall into place.  

Early block in and reference photo for portrait ( on left)




Portrait progressing


Further blocking in of paint layers


More development of the features


Finished  portrait


  Harriet Tubman was elected into the  National Women's Hall of Fame in 1973. 
Tubman, Harriet - National Women’s Hall of Fame (womenofthehall.org)

                   

To learn more about my  "A Tribute to American Women Leaders" project visit this post on my blog:

https://susandurkee.blogspot.com/2020/01/a-tribute-to-american-women-leaders.html

 

 For more information, to contact me or to see more of my portraiture, please visit my website:   www.susandurkee.com 

Thank you for taking the time to read this honorary blog celebrating such an important American woman leader.

*Portrait based on a photograph from the Library of Congress collection.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Honoring, with portraiture, Clara Barton "The Angel of the Battlefield."

This year, on Christmas Day, 2021, Clara Barton celebrates her 200th Birthday!

Clara Barton was one of the first woman leaders whose portrait I selected to paint for my "A Tribute to American Women Leaders," project.

She is so exceptional and important to our American History thru her nearly 70 years of selfless service to our country and humanity.

Clara Barton     oil on linen, 20 x 16,   collection of the artist     

 "I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them." Clara Barton

 

Clarissa "Clara" Barton was born December 25th, 1821.

 She began teaching at the age of 18, later moving on to a job as recording clerk at the US Patent Office. Even in those early years she was an early women's rights advocate demanding equal pay to men.

In 1861, when the Civil War broke out she quit her government job and started her long career serving as a nurse in aiding people in times of war and disaster.

 As the "Angel of the Battlefield" she she  helped to transport supplies for the Union army and was at every major battle in Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. She also helped prepare and guide slaves for their new lives of freedom.

After the Civil war, Clara helped locate missing soldiers and mark thousands of graves. On May 21, 1881, she formed the American Red Cross. She was devoted to helping the poor and homeless and an ardent supporter of women's suffrage. In 1904 she established the National First Aid Association of America. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1972. 


 As part of this project, "A Tribute to American Women Leaders," I have recorded the development of each oil on linen portrait. I thought this would add more  viewer engagement with the subject, the portrait and the portrait progress.

As usual, I begin my portraits with a oil paint block in, just to get a base of color down on the canvas, upon which I will build up layers of paint. At this point, I am not concerned with the likeness during these early stages, as with the building up of layers of paint the facial structure will begin to form and the features will fall into place.
 

Clara Barton     rough oil block in for portrait

 
Below,  the oil portrait is further along, but still needs  more layers of paint to convey the skin tones and the vibrancy and richness  of the colors.

Clara Barton     oil portrait progression

 

 One of the important evocations I wanted to show in my portrait of Clara Barton, was not only her strength, but also her sensitivity and humanity. Below is a cropped version of the final portrait, which I hope conveys these qualities.



Below is the reference photo I chose to use for the portrait. 

I liked this image as it conveyed Clara's dignity, strength and conviction. Also, because it was not as well known a photograph and showed a nice angle of her face (she had a very wide face so a 3/4  pose head position was more attractive, rather than straight on).
I liked that she was standing, so straight and direct...she was a woman of energy and action! 

I cropped the photograph, as by removing the lower part of the dress in the photograph the viewer would be more focused on Clara's head and shoulders. Also, in this tribute project, I have restricted the portrait sizes to 14 x 18 to 20 x 24 inches, so I wanted to make sure that her head was large enough for the portrait composition.

"Clara Barton"  Matthew Brady reference photo  Courtesy Library of Congress
  

 Clara Barton was elected into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1973   Barton, Clara - National Women’s Hall of Fame (womenofthehall.org)

 

 To learn more about my  "A Tribute to American Women Leaders" project visit this post on my blog:

https://susandurkee.blogspot.com/2020/01/a-tribute-to-american-women-leaders.html

 

 For more information, to contact me or to see more of my portraiture, please visit my website:   www.susandurkee.com 

Thank you for taking the time to read this honorary blog celebrating such an important American woman leader.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg A Fierce Advocate for Woman's Rights

 As part of my portrait presentation "A Tribute to American Women Leaders" I am also presenting a more in depth back ground of each leader along with the portrait creative process.
 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020), a giant for women's rights, will be  sadly missed. 
Ginsburg is remembered for being the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and as a pioneering advocate fighting for women's rights, including health care and equal opportunity.
Over her 27 years on the court, she was known as a champion of progressive causes and a "Jurist of Historic Stature."
 
  
 "My Mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independant." Ruth Bader Ginsburg
 
 Ruth Bader Ginsburg,  20 x 16  oil on linen    Collection of the artist    
 
 
    Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that             will lead others to join you.”           Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ginsburg was one of only nine women in her class at Harvard Law School.  It was a time in the world where it was lawful to treat women as less than men. Just as an example of the attitude around women at the time, a few years after she finished her law degree at Columbia Law School, Chief Justice Earl Warren’s Supreme Court upheld, unanimously, the state of Florida’s exclusion of women from jury service because a “woman is still regarded as the center of home and family life.

 Her career is a shining example of proving that attitude wrong, and she worked throughout her career to make sure all women had equal access to their career of choice.

 Before becoming a Supreme Court Justice, she argued six cases before the high court, winning five, all with a husband and two children at home.

 

I decided to  paint the Justice straight on in a head and shoulders pose, as I think that is what people envision when they think of  Ruth Bader Ginsburg...not her body structure, but  that intense, unflinching face, meeting straight on what ever challenge.

In my research for the portrait I saw that the Associate Justice also wore Jabots so I decided to add this for added compositional interest.  On the far left is the first days oil wash in and in the middle image is the portrait further developed with the reference photos on either side. I usually have a black and white reference photo to work from and it helps to show the true values.  I also thought that the  rich red/crimson background was fitting for Ginsburg's spirit.
 
  On the far right is the finished 20 x 16 oil on linen portrait.

 

 To see more on my portrait series  "A Tribute to American Women Leaders" check out my other blog posts and to see more of my oil portraits visit my website:      www.susandurkee.com

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Oil Portrait of General Omar N. Bradley



        General Omar Nelson Bradley                                        "The Soldiers General"




General Omar Bradley  32 x 26 oil on linen



 "Leadership means firmness, not harshness or bullying; understanding, not weakness; justice, not irresponsible freedom; humaneness, not intolerance; generosity, not selfishness; pride, not egotism." Omar N. Bradley



"We live in a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants, in a world that has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. We have solved the mystery of the atom and forgotten the lessons of the Sermon on the Mount. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about dying than we know about living." Omar N. Bradley

 

These words are so  pertinent for the world we are living in today. Where are the leaders?

Omar Bradley was a true leader and as you can see from his above quotes, he was a man of quality and insight.

 

I was inspired to paint this portrait of  Omar Nelson Bradley to honor a man of such integrity and conviction. He is an inspiration! 

 

The portrait shows  him in his office with a map of the D-Day invasion in the back wall. I based the portrait on a Library of Congress photograph and then made some changes to the composition.


 

 

 

Omar Nelson Bradley (February 12, 1893 - April 8, 1981) was a  United States Army field commander and a senior officer of the United States Army in North Africa and Europe during World War II.  As a decorated 5 Star General of the U.S. Army, he was called "The Soldiers General" because for his care and sensitivity towards the enlisted men under his command.


From the Normandy landings through the end of the war in Europe, Bradley had command of all U.S. ground forces invading Germany from the west; he ultimately commanded forty-three divisions and 1.3 million men, the largest body of American soldiers ever to serve under a U.S. field commander.


After the war, Bradley headed the Veterans Administration and became the Chief of Staff of the United States Army. In 1949, he was appointed the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the following year oversaw the policy-making for the Korean War, before retiring from active service in 1953.



Close up of Portrait Image

Reference photo for Portrait


To see more of my portraiture please visit my website:

www.SusanDurkee.com








Friday, February 8, 2019

Commission to paint the Official portrait of Robert J. Lynn, Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court

I was recently contacted by Robert J. Lynn, the Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court to paint his official portrait.....what a great honor!

I traveled to Concord New Hampshire to meet with the Chief Justice in the stately New Hampshire Supreme Court, and to discuss his portrait.

This  was doubly exciting for me because my ancestors were early settlers of New Hampshire in the 1600's. My relative, the colorful, Reverend Stephen Bachiler founded (New) Hampton New Hampshire in 1638-9.  http://www.hampton.lib.nh.us/hampton/biog/bachilertoc.htm

It was a delight to meet with the Chief Justice. He was warm, compassionate and engaging.

We decided that we were going to work from a sitting pose, so I took a  selection of photographs of the Chief Justice in a beautiful Hitchcock Chair in front of the paneled wall and green marble fireplace in his elegant office.
After  reviewing the photographs together we selected a perfect main photograph to use as the reference for the portrait. I usually work from a number of photographs for a oil portrait, but this one was a winner!

Now,  my work, for the Official portrait of the Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, was ready to start.

About 7 months later I contacted the Chief Justice and presented an email image of his portrait for his review....he was delighted with the portrait!  Here was his response upon seeing his portrait:



"The portrait looks fabulous!  I am very pleased – you are wonderfully talented and I thank you so much for your work". Robert J. Lynn



 Robert J. Lynn, Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, oil on linen 36 x 28Collection New Hampshire Supreme Court


 The Chief Justice and his lovely and dynamic wife Dina, visited my Studio shortly thereafter to see the portrait in real time viewing...it was a very happy and exciting day!

The Chief Justice and the artist in front of his Official portrait in the Lobster Pot Studio

Reference photo for the Official portrait of the Chief Justice  
 To see more of my classic traditional portraiture please visit:  www.SusanDurkee.com