Harriet Tubman: the Moses of her time | Women of Courage & Faith Series

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you.

One of my current series is Women of Courage and Faith. It is a series of 2′ x 3′ portraits painted with black and white acrylic paint on particle board. When I think of the combination of both courage and faith – Harriet Tubman comes to mind first.


Here a few facts about Harriet Tubman’s courage from the National Women’s History Museum


1. When she was about 12 years old, Harriet Tubman was ordered to help tie up a captured slave.  Realizing the escapee was about to be whipped, she refused to secure him for the pending punishment. The slave master angrily responded by hurling a two-pound weight at the girl, hitting her in the head. Tubman sustained an injury that resulted in a lifetime of throbbing headaches and unexpected episodes of narcolepsy, which caused her to fall into a deep sleep with little warning.

2. At age 29 she was able to escape the Maryland plantation she worked up the eastern seaboard to Pennsylvania. Unlike most runaways, however, Tubman did not remain on free soil. For the next several years, she repeatedly returned to the South, spiriting other slaves out of bondage

3. As part of the Underground Railroad, she made 19 trips into slave holding states, leading some 300 individuals to a new life in the areas that had banned slavery. To help support her efforts, Tubman worked in a Philadelphia kitchen. She eventually became one of the Railroad’s best “conductors,” earning the dubious distinction of a having a $40,000 reward posted for her capture or death.

4. For all the recriminations directed at her by displeased plantation owners throughout the South, Tubman was never caught and never lost a “passenger.” As part of the Underground Railroad network, she successfully employed a variety of escape and evasion methods to help aid fleeing slaves. Disguise was a favorite. If it was announced that a group of male slaves had bolted from a plantation, she dressed the fugitives as women for the trip north.

5. Tubman was vitally important to the Union war effort. Utilizing the extensive knowledge of the South she had obtained while working for the Underground Railroad, Tubman was able to provide accurate intelligence data to Northern troops.

6. Tubman also became a respected guerrilla operative for the Union Army’s, waging unconventional warfare against a variety of targets behind enemy lines. For one mission, she led a raiding party through dense woods and swamps, harassing Confederate positions along the way.

7. Encountering homeless slaves during her different forays into Rebel held territory, she helped find many of these displaced men and women food, shelter, and even jobs in the North.

Read more here.

The Painting Process

To begin the Tubman painting, I used a large grid system to lay out a base drawing using my paintbrush. I then started filling in the base layer’s shadows and highlights. Once I believed that the proportions were painted correctly, I began to work on the details of her facial features. I referenced three photos of Tubman, using one as my primary point of reference.

Harriet Tubman - painting process

Materials used:

Base paint layer materials used for developing facial features and shadows

Paint Brushes Set, 20 Pcs Paint Brushes for Acrylic

Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint, Titanium White

Liquitex BASICS Gesso Surface Prep Medium, White

Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Acrylic Paint, Mars Black

Top paint layer materials used to create depth, highlights, and detail.

Grumbacher Academy Acrylic Paint, Titanium White

Grumbacher Academy Acrylic Paint, Mars Black

20 Well Watercolor Paint Palette

Fredrick Douglass

Subscribe To My Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest updateson art classes, design tutorials, and more.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This