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:



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



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



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

No comments:

Post a Comment