Author Archives: Diane Russell

American Music Program Benefit Concert

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I have been creating original pencil drawings for Thara Memory’s American Music Program benefit concerts for three years, and this year was no exception. “Nothin’ But the Blues”, featuring Esperanza Spalding, took place at the Gerding Theater on August 18.  I am so pleased that my original pencil drawing of Esperanza and Thara helped to raise $10,000 for the program!

Pinetop Perkins Headstone

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Pinetop-Headstone-smallIt is an incredible honor to have my pencil drawing of Pinetop’s hands featured on his new headstone at his gravesite in McLaurin Cemetery, near Clarksdale, Mississippi. Born on July 7, 1913, Pinetop Perkins played with Muddy Waters for twelve years, and was one of the last great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen still performing when he passed away on March 21, 2011 at the age of 97. Many attribute his long life to his love of McDonalds, cigarettes, his music, and, of course, the ladies. He received three Grammy awards, the latest just a month before he died. My original pencil art of Pinetop’s Hands at the Piano was created using my photo of him just a year earlier as reference. The image also appears on special edition T-Shirts, with proceeds going to the Pinetop Perkins Foundation. (


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I am pleased to start out the new year with a new portrait!  Everyone who stopped by Portland Open Studios saw the portrait in it’s beginning stages, and I’m happy to say that Zac’s portrait is finally finished and is now hanging side by side with his sister, Zoe’s portrait!

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Waterfront Blues Festival

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I am happy to say that I finished my Waterfront Blues Festival 25th Anniversary painting just in the nick of time! This painting is the result of the thousands of photographs I have taken during the many years I have been attending the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland Oregon. This festival is unique in that it is a benefit for the Oregon Food Bank, which brings the community together in a very special way. I knew I would do something with all of my photos someday… and that day finally came! I chose the 25th anniversary of this festival to create the painting with some of the most memorable people and moments. I hope everyone has fun finding all of their favorite musicians! To find out more about the Waterfront Blues Festival, visit Waterfront Blues Festival. 10% of the print sales of this painting will go to the Oregon Food Bank.


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After many months of work, my portrait of Zoe, which I started last October during Portland Open Studios, is finally finished! This is the first portrait I have done using the new color palette from my two-week portrait workshop last August in NYC. Zoe’s parents were thrilled with the painting, but the very best comment came from Zoe herself, when she whispered to her mom… “I feel like I’m famous!”

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RACC Professional Development Grant

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I am very pleased to have received my first Professional Development Grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council. This grant made it possible to attend a two-week portrait painting workshop at New York’s School of Visual Arts, taught by master portrait artist Marvin Mattelson , in August 2011. The class, titled “Classical Realism: Portrait Painting in Oil”, also included a trip to the Metropolitan Museum, where Mattelson critiqued over two dozen paintings, explaining how the artists achieved their life-like portraits.  Above is my partially finished class portrait, done from life, over a period of four days. I have since finished several new paintings that incorporate the new color palette and information I learned during the workshop. Click the following links to view my newest works: Recent Work

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Pinetop Perkins

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Pinetop Perkins, who passed away March 21 at the age of 97, was my favorite bluesman, and I will always cherish the time that I was fortunate enough to spend with him.  It made me very happy to know that my portrait of Pinetop was placed beside him at the funeral…

Here are a few short video links that capture Pinetop’s performances and personality: Video 1, Video 2

I’m sure going to miss the old guy… I loved bringing him his McDonalds and peppermint candies.  Pinetop would always say “I’m just doin’ the best I can”… and I can’t think of better words to live by.

Doug Macleod “Brand New Eyes” CD Cover Art

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I was recently commissioned to create this drawing of acoustic blues artist Doug MacLeod for his new CD, “Brand New Eyes” released in March 2011. From Frank-John Hadley’s liner notes: “The songs of Brand New Eyes are heavily streaked with altruism, a belief in the bracing power of music to heal. It’s the thread running through the cloth of all the material.” “I see so many people walking around and they don’t see anything good in the world,” MacLeod says of the title track. “But maybe it’s not the world, maybe it’s you. To see some good in the world, put on some brand new eyes.” Go to Doug MacLeod’s website for more information and to listen to his music. To see the original drawing, visit my Portrait page..

Matisyahu “Shake Off The Dust” CD Cover Art

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I am so excited to see my pencil drawing of Matisyahu featured on his new CD, “Shake Off the Dust…Arise”! I had finished the drawing the day before his concert earlier this year, and when I showed it to him, he liked it so much that he decided to replace the original artwork with my drawing! A little history of this CD from Matisyahu’s website: “With little noise or fanfare, Matisyahu released his independent debut record, “Shake Off the Dust…Arise” in October 2004. Six years later, the album has been remastered. This hard to find fan-favorite that started it all contains the original arrangements of “King Without A Crown”, and many others featured on Matisyahu’s first two gold-selling albums.” Go to Matisyahu’s website to find out more about Matisyahu and to listen to some of his incredible music. To see my original pencil drawing, visit my portrait page.

Oregon Music News Interview

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Last month, Tom D’Antoni, editor in chief of Oregon Music News, stopped by my studio to do an interview for the December 15th edition.  Oregon Music News is an online music newspaper that recently launched in October 2009.  There is a new post every day, and it covers just about every genre of music that you can think of!  Check out my interview: