Edvard Munch

Artists drawn to paint on crab shells

Artists drawn to paint on crab shells

You knew they were tasty. But did you know crabs were art?

At least they are in the hands of a few area painters. They take those hard, pointy, colorful outer shells, the ones that usually get rolled up in a newspaper and thrown away when the crab feast is over, and turn them into decorative keepsakes.

"I really don't know what the draw is," concedes Dorothy Oliver, who paints on hollowed-out crustaceans from her home in Huntingtown in Calvert County. "It's a unique little item. I guess people just like Maryland crabs; they like their Maryland blue crabs."

Using equal parts patience, skill and ingenuity, these painters turn the odd-shaped shells,...