Hope Cunningham Fine Art

To view more of my work, please visit www.hopecunningham.com

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Come Out and Play

Come Out and Play 9"X12"  Oil Painting on Canvas Panel

My painting buddy, Brenda Semanick, came to my studio yesterday to paint a still life with me. The early part of the day was a real comedy of errors which would gave been hilarious if I had been watching it happen to someone else. Everything I tried to do, use, or set up kept falling apart. I wanted to set this still life up on a board mounted on my tripod with a sheet of glass on the surface so we would get some nice reflections. Well, the connector came out of the board and the whole thing collapsed. Naturally, the glass broke, so no table top reflections in this still life. Once I cleared another space to set it up and decided on lighting, I proceeded to trip over the tripod supporting the light and knocked that over. Yes it broke, not just the bulb either. The entire light fixture is enjoying a new life in the dumpster. Eventually we got everything worked out and settled down to paint. So much for conducting myself as a confident and competent hostess!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cottage Garden

Cottage Garden Original 12"X12" Oil Painting

Here is another field study from my trip to Newport, Rhode Island. These folks love their gardens, you can find hydrangeas, altheas, lilies and black eyed susans everywhere. This lovely cottage was right down the street from where I stayed. My friend, Genii, and I generated a little neighborhood excitement when we set up to paint. The owner of the house very graciously showed us around her garden and then gave us a tour of her home. The afternoon sun was on the street side, though, so that's where we painted!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

April's Orchids

Original 24" X 18" Oil Painting on Canvas

I know, I know...you've seen this one before. Well I spent a lot of time and effort reworking this painting and I wanted to share it with you.  I sanded down the face and flowers,  then painted over them with opaque paint so the old drawing wouldn't trip me up.  I scraped the face out a couple of times before I finally got the likeness I was after.  Its funny how some paintings seem to paint themselves and  others require a lot of labor. iI was happy I stuck with this one.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Margy's Lilies

Margy's Lilies 10" X 12" Original Oil Painting on Canvas Board

While I was in Rhode Island, I had an opportunity to hang out with the owner of one of the fabulous old mansions that Newport is so famous for. The house was amazing but I preferred the beautiful grounds. Dodging the sun and the poison ivy, I found a quiet shady spot to set up and paint these beautiful lilies. Thanks, Margy, for a delightful morning well spent.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Newport Rose Hips

Newport Rose Hips Original 8" X 8" Oil Painting on Gessoboard

The headlands of Aquidneck Island are covered with wild rose bushes, There aren't many blooms this time of year but the shrubs are laden with rose hips. They are very interesting persimmon shaped fruits with funny little green tails. The red ripe ones are actually tasty and loaded with Vitamin C. I only had an hour to paint one morning, so I decided to give them a shot. While I was cleaning up my brushes, two French speaking gentlemen came up to discuss my painting with me. I may not speak French very well, but it seems they liked the painting. One of the fun things about plien aire painting is how excited people are to come across a painter. I've made some wonderful new friends this way.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Morning Light, The Breakers

Morning Light, The Breakers Original 9"X12" Oil on Canvas Panel

Since last Monday, I have been painting in Newport, Rhode Island with one of my good friends from Tucson. Her husband's family is from here, so she knows lots of wonderful people and just where the best spots to paint are. Newport is famous for it's elegant mansions, many of them perched right on the headlands. My friend's Mother-in-law lives right next door to this beautiful estate, which belonged to her own in-laws once upon a time. Most of these houses have interesting names and long histories; its a very colorful place. I tried painting this house in the afternoon from the beach. We were doing pretty well until the incoming tide chased us away. All of our gear got very sandy, wet and covered with seaweed, but we came away with a great plien-aire story of our own.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Elegant Blossom

Original 24" X 18" Oil Painting on Canvas

Put your on your Art Critic hats folks, I need your opinion. The image above is how this painting looks after working on it today, the photo below was taken yesterday. As you can see, I darkened the background and warmed the color up a bit. Now that I look at the photos, I'm on the fence about whether that was a wise move. I'm thinking that perhaps the cooler, lighter background is more effective. What do you think? By the way, you might be surprised to know that there is no "blue" pigment in this painting. I used ivory black. It tends to dry pretty flat, but I will varnish it to refresh the darks.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bough and Bowl

Original 9" X 12" Oil Painting on Canvas Panel

Well, here it is as promised, the second attempt at painting the apple bough. I have to say that I have a newfound respect for apple painters like Carol Marine. These apples were a very intense red. I found it difficult to make them look "lit up" against the blue background without sacrificing the intensity of the local color. I was hoping that by adding the white bowl to the mix I might have an easier time judging my value relationships, but only succeeded in adding the additional challenge of painting ellipses.  Perhaps I need to try a different ground next time. It was one of those days where the greatest reward was knowing I showed up and put in my time. Sometimes it seems like the successful paintings tend to be sandwiched between a few frustrating ones.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Apple Bough on Blue

Original 9" X 12" Oil Painting

Yesterday my painting buddy, Brenda Semanick, came to my studio and we set up this little still life.  We have both been very busy, so it was great to have time to spend together painting. I was frustrated by the blue background, I never seemed to hit on the right value. We both found the set up challenging, so we decided to try it again next week.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Colonel Sanger

Original Oil Painting
22" X 28"

Okay, so this is not a small painting, but I wanted to share it anyway. These days I am finding that I am getting the most enjoyment out of painting portraits. This gentleman was not so keen on the idea of sitting for a portrait. His wife convinced him it wasn't so bad after I painted her portrait a couple of months ago. We spent the day together and had a great time. He was full of wonderful stories and good advice about travel destinations. Sitting for a portrait is a treat for the sitter and the painter. How often does someone give you their undivided attention for hours at a time? It is a treat for me because I get this intimate peek into another person's life and my own is that much richer for it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Que Bella

original oil painting
16" X 14"

Remember the alla prima sketch "Roses in Her Hair" that I posted a couple of weeks ago? Well I took a profile photograph of the model that day. I have been working on this one for a couple of days and thought I would post it so that you could compare the difference between a quick study and a more deliberate painting. I don't think this one is done yet; I'm going to set it aside for a while and think about what it needs. Meanwhile, I didn't want you guys to think I had disappeared into a black hole, just going back and forth between the quick studies and longer paintings. I think both approaches have merit, but I am a Gemini and pretty hard to pin down!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Quickie with Jessica

Original Oil Sketch on Canvas Pane;
16" X 12"

Today I drove up to the Phoenix area to a three hour class hosted by the Portrait Artists of Arizona. I am a new member and this is the first painting event that I participated in. Portrait artist and teacher, Linda Tracey Brandon, talked to us about how to set up a model for portrait sketches. She then demonstrated s a variety of lighting options and discussed reasons for choosing one over another. It was a pleasure to watch her paint for about an hour as she discussed her transparent approach to the block in.

This sketch was completed in about two hours. While it doesn't have the finish of a portrait, this kind of quick sketch from life is one of my favorite things to do. There is no better way to improve your drawing and seeing skills than working from life with the clock ticking away the minutes; you just don't have time for anything more than a very direct and simple statement. I really enjoyed painting Jessica, so I feel certain you will be seeing her again!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Red Roof Over Copper Cactus Inn

11"X14" Original Oil on Canvas Panel

Here is another piece that I painted during the Tucson Gateway Business Alliance "Paint the Strip" plien-aire event. The subject is another of the old motor hotels along Tucson's own version of Route 66, which we now call the "Miracle Mile". This is the back of the hotel, but I found it much more interesting than the parking lot side. (Besides, you already know how I feel about painting cars!) It's about to go out the door to the same exhibition as "A Room at La Siesta" so I thought I'd post it. I am curious to know whether you can guess what time of day it was painted.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Room at La Siesta

Original Oil Painting on Canvas Panel
12" X 10"

Back in late April, I participated in the Tucson Gateway "Paint the Strip" plein-aire event. The idea was to paint the historic Miracle Mile motor hotels. It was unseasonably cold and windy. The light changed constantly. I started this painting and then proceeded to drop it face down in my palette!  Today I decided to see if I could resurrect it for an exhibition with the same theme. All I can say is that rendering the perspective of an automobile was a unique challenge for me. Of course, those were not the words I was using in the studio!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kurt's Peonies

Original oil painting on canvas panel
8" X 8"

Third post this week. Yay! I may have said it before and I know I'll say it again, flowers are the hardest thing on the planet to paint. I don't know anyone who paints peonies as well as Kurt Anderson. He had these set up on a table in the corner of his studio the last time I visited. I couldn't resist snapping a photo to give them a try. It was fun and frustrating. My first attempt got brushed together. I came back the next day and worked into my blurry start. Worked out pretty well, I think.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Portrait of Mrs. Sanger

Original Oil Painting
14" X 18"

This lovely lady is Carol Sanger. She came in to my studio about four months ago and admired my portraits.  Carol decided that she would like to have her portrait painted and sat for me a few weeks ago. We had a delightful time getting to know each other. She is one hard working woman, so it was a treat for her to just sit still and not have to do anything. We got a great start that day, but I had to leave town the next day to attend to a family emergency. It was a challenge to finish. I painted one complete canvas and then realized that I had elongated her face and idealized her mouth to suit my own personal tastes. So I started again. I like this canvas much better.

Roses in Her Hair, again

Roses in Her Hair
Original Oil Painting

Okay. I caught a ration of....shall we say, criticism, from my friend Brenda over the photographic quality (or lack thereof) of my last painting post. So, in the interest of professional development, I tried everything she suggested. I set the white balance for indirect natural light, hauled everything outside, used a tripod and bracketed my exposure. This one's for you Brenda; I hope its an improvement!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Roses in Her Hair

Flowers in Her Hair
12" X 16" Oil on Canvas Panel

So. It's been a while since I've posted. Truly, it's not because I haven't been painting. I have lots and lots of starts but not so many finishes because I have been doing a lot of alla prima figurative and plein air painting and no small still lifes. Now that the summer heat is upon us, I will be spending much more time in the studio finishing those starts and developing new paintings. I am officially renewing my commitment to blogging regularly, but adjusting my goal to a more realistic (for me) three times per week. If I can get up at 4:30am three times a week to run and left weights, I certainly ought to be able to post a new painting three times a week!
I would also like to invite input from everyone on how they use Facebook to promote their artwork and stay connected to other artists. All my art buddies are big fans of Facebook so I guess its time to get in the game! Let me know what you think.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Doc on Holiday

12" X 16" Original Oil painting
Click here to bid on ebay

Today I had the pleasure of painting with some friends here in Tucson. The model was a delightful cowboy in a very authentic costume. He actually had a gun holstered on his hip, but I left it out because it didn't help the painting. Besides, he looked very much like and old country doctor to me and made me think of  "Doc Holiday" in the westerns I watched as a kid. He looks like he is taking a break from his practice, hence the name, "Doc on Holiday".

This is very wet paint, hence the glare. If anyone has helpful advice about how to photograph wet paintings, please leave a comment!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Courtyard Foxgloves

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The courtyard where I studio is quite beautiful. There is a beautiful fountain surrounded by planters full of flowers. On Sunday, all of the galleries are closed so I painted with a friend today. This 10" X 20" canvas is rather large for a quick plein air study, so I was nervous about taking on too much.  I was looking directly into brilliant sunlight so it was a real challenge to judge my values. I think the value range may be too narrow to create the effect of brilliant sunlight, but I didn't want to sacrifice the color. I plan to try it again and really push the values. It will be interesting to see the difference between the two paintings.

First White Roses

The roses in my garden are just beginning to bloom and I am determined to learn how to paint them this year. My first attempt was a total bust, so I wiped them out and started over. I was much happier with my second attempt.

Most of the roses I have are antiques. I like the roses that have so many petals that they look more like peonies than roses. Not so easy to paint. These white ones are planted in beautiful turquoise ceramic glazed containers. They bloom all summer long, so I should get plenty of practice painting them. My painting buddy, Ruthie, liked these so much that she bought them right off the easel. Naturally, it was good painting day for me!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fruit Salad

8" X 8" Original Oil Painting on Panel

Click here to bid on ebay

Wet Paint, now we are cooking! I tried out my new still life set up based on a combination of tips from Qiang Huang and Carol Marine. It worked out pretty well and got me a little more accustomed to working with the lighting in my new studio.

I hope you all notice that the photo today is much better than my previous post. I have been playing with a couple of editors and I have to say that I think iphoto did a better job than photo shop.

Anyway, I am pretty happy with this little guy. I have always wanted to paint kiwis and I like the contrast between the green flesh and the pink ground. White coffee cups are just an artist's excuse for painting reflected color. I had lots of fun with the kiwi on the shadow side of this cup.

While I was painting this set up I kept thinking that the cherries were trying to escape from the cup while the kiwis were feeling left out.We always want what the other guy has!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Red Gerber, Baby Bottles

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Well folks, I can not believe I have let so much time go by since my last post. This daily painting business is a habit that requires some cultivation but I have been very busy cultivating my garden. With my new studio and my new blog I am having a bit of an identity crisis. My studio keeps wanting to be a gallery. This, of course, implies that I be available to meet and greet visitors rather than painting. Eventually, I figured out that I can't run a gallery and paint at the same time so I have worked out a compromise that involves being open on Thursday nights for the local Art Walk.

The other challenge to my focus is whether to work on bigger paintings, mostly portrait and figure, that take longer to paint or focus on the small daily paintings. On top of that, the weather is so gorgeous that I have been enjoying painting outside in my beautiful garden, which is very exciting, but doesn't always yield an ideal result at first pass. I have several paintings working and hope to share them in the near future. I know a lot of you are daily painters so I would love to hear what you think about my current dilemma; perhaps you have faced similar challenges.

Meanwhile, here is another 6"X 6" that I painted in Carol Marine's Sedona Workshop. Gotta love those Gerbers!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bowls and Berries

It's Open Studio Tour here in Tucson, which makes for a busy weekend for artists. I am having lots of fun meeting new people. Tucson is a snowbird destination, so I get folks (many of them artists) from all over the world this time of year. I've had visitors from Slovenia, Australia and Germany, Michigan, Vermont, Maine, Tennessee, Washington and New York to name a few. Its also a great excuse to play catch up with old friends that I haven't seen in a while. What a treat it is to have a studio full of lively conversation. I also picked up a portrait commission which I am very excited about.

So, yes, I'm posting a "dry" painting. I did this one in a workshop with the very amazing Carol Marine. I learned so much from her. I highly recommend her workshops. She really encouraged me to stretch myself. I would have been reluctant to take on the challenge of these berries if I hadn't seen her demo the berries first. She did such a great job with them that I was inspired to try them.

What makes me really happy about this little painting is this: It got scratched up along with another painting in the back of my truck when I was unloading my gear after the workshop. Of course, I was heartbroken. Well, I decided to try to fix it this week and I am very happy with the result. It wan't as hard to match the colors as I expected. Next time I won't be so timid!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Julie's Gerbers

Private Collection
Gerber daisies are so happy and proud. They hold their heads up high to show off their pretty faces. I had these pink ones sitting on my kitchen counter and decided that they were just so cheerful that I had to try painting them.

Recently, my stepson and daughter-in-law helped me to set up my new studio for a show. When Julie told me that she loved this painting I was reminded that she had used gerbers in her floral arrangements for her wedding. So naturally this painting had to go back to South Carolina to live with Julie and Sean! It really is nice when your family appreciates what you are doing.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Apres Aperitif

It's magic time for gardeners here in Tucson. We have had record amounts of rain and the desert is a very happy place right now. Every spring and fall I am torn between my love for being outside digging in the dirt and my passion for painting. The only remedy is to feed my gardening addiction so I can get back into the studio.  So I am cheating and posting this painting I did a few months ago. Don't worry, I'm still painting, just working on some larger pieces that aren't ready yet!

Glass is always lots of fun to paint, it's there and it's not there. These little aperitif glasses were challenge to render in perspective. The effort was worth capturing the way the inverted glass holds the red color reflected from the table. I love watching color and light bounce around!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sabino Saguaros


This painting was done on a very cloudy,damp and windy day at Sabino Canyon. In the morning I hauled all my gear up trail to get the composition I wanted. After working for about two hours I had what I wanted and started to clean up. As I was talking to a hiker about the painting a huge gust of wind blew my entire set up over, sending mineral spirits all over my work. Frustrated, I packed everything up and headed back down the trail. I set up in a more protected space and tried again with this result. Persistence pays off, especially when it comes to plein air painting!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Apple and Ginger Jar

Well folks, this is it! My very first Daily Painting blog. I'm pumped, but I have to admit negotiating the set up was a bit of a challenge. No worries, I'm learning a lot and I'm sure it will become second nature eventually.

Last weekend I did a three day workshop with daily painter Qiang Huang. What an inspiration! I did this painting on Sunday. It was a lot of fun to experiment with the edges. My favorite thing about the set up is the way that the colors of the apple bounce into the shadow side of the ginger jar.