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Peabody artist paints a greeting of hope

Peabody artist Gina Hagen stands with her watercolor painting that was commissioned by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to be turned into a Christmas card. (Spenser Hasak)

PEABODY — Living through a medical crisis can be a black and white issue.

But Gina Hagen is putting color into the lives of cancer patients.

The Peabody artist creates watercolor paintings and donates them to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund each Christmas season so the hospital can turn them into holiday cards, and sell them to raise money.

The gesture is part of Dana-Farber’s holiday cards and gift collection, which includes donated gifts that are sold to benefit the nonprofits.

“It seems like everytime I turn around in my life, somebody is affected by cancer,” said Hagen. “As an artist, this is one of the few ways I can give back. Some people are doctors and nurses and can give back in that way. I create watercolor paintings.”

Since its inception 15 years ago, about $8 million has been raised.

This year’s gifts are available online and include a $32 handcrafted Tree of Life bracelet, which is also available the Paper Store, and a stuffed labradoodle puppy, complete with a bandanna designed by pediatric patient Allisa Freiberg. The 10-year-old is being treated in Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic.

Candles, ornaments, and cards are also available.

Hagen’s watercolor painting of a snowman riding in the New England Patriots victory parade on a duck boat is featured on a holiday card and will be sold for $20.

The Salem State University graduate holds an art degree and studied under a watercolor painter in Rockport to become a professional artist and jewelry maker.

Hagen has created and donated a painting to Dana-Farber annually since 2011 to raise awareness for cancer research.

“It makes me feel good that it’s a successful project,” she said. “The older you get, the more you realize how many lives around you have been touched by cancer.”

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