Hope Cunningham Fine Art

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

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rule O' the Roost

Rule O' the Roost 9"X12" Oil on Canvas

Happy Holidays, Art Lovers! As 2011 draws to a close,  I am one very grateful Artgirl. This has probably been the busiest year of my life, surpassing even finals in graduate school. It's been an eventful year with lots of painting, travel, workshops, plein aire events, significant family milestones, shows, learning how to run a business and big changes at my art studio. 

When I decided to take a look at my blog today, I realized that I had been posting frequently on Facebook and neglecting my blog. So now, I will be catching folks up to some of the work I completed over the past six months. Meanwhile, I will be working on a new batch of paintings from my recent trip to Italy. I have never been more excited to be an artist.

This painting was completed during a plein-aire event for Greenfields Country Day School here in Tucson. It was so cold that the artists were given some leeway to include studio work completed within the event time frame. It was 16 degrees Farenheit when I checked out the checked out the chicken coop at 7:30 am. Even with wind resistant gloves and liners, my fingers were frozen faster than I could set up, so yes, this painting was done from photo reference in my studio that day. I also did one with a group of chickens called "Pecking Order" that sold at the show.

Pecking Order 12" X 10" Oil on Canvas

Lest you fear that I painted nothing from life for that event,  let me share with you that I did take home Best in Show for my painting of the Administration building. This one was painted just before sunset from the cab of my truck with the heater running. Maybe a little carbon monoxide has a positive effect on creativity. It certainly resulted in a few errant brushstrokes on the interior ceiling. This piece also sold at the show.
Welcome to Greenfield's 8"X10" Oil on Canvas

Here is what my fountain looked like during the event. Brrrrrrr!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer Buzz

Summer Buzz Oil on Canvas Panel

This week, Russ brought back an old favorite to model for open studio. This is Jose Rios, who is a fine artist in his own right. It's always fun to paint a painter because they are so interested in what you are doing. It was winter the last time Jose sat for us, and he had a very luxuriant thick glossy mane. It was quite a surprise to see him with his summer buzz cut. Tucson gets pretty hot, so lots of young men shave their heads to keep cool. Of course, this gave us an excellent opportunity to study form and structure.  As you can see, there was no dodging the challenge of rendering stubble; it was just more prevalent on top of his head than around his mouth!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Charles, Too 12"X10" Oil on Canvas Panel

With any luck you will recognize this young man, especially since he has such a fondness for red shirts. That's right, this is Russ' son Charles again. Mercifully, his mouth is in the right place this time and I find absolutely nothing wrong with it. This is another pose where the head is in very direct light. I did my best to turn the form with temperature changes. I do think I could have pushed the cool green cast in the lower portion of the face. It was pretty tricky to indicate the dark stubble without losing the muzzle form.

This study was a real lesson for me on the psychology of evaluating one's own work. Before I even started, I couldn't help thinking that my last few paintings were successful so it was time for a flop. I recognized the thought and tried to keep it at bay while I worked. Still, the entire time I was working, I couldn't help feeling that it just wasn't coming together as well as the last study. At one point, I fought the urge to wipe it out. At the end of the session, I found so many things that I might have handled differently. I left Russ' studio energized by the evening, albeit with a lingering bit of disappointment.

When I got home, I set this study next to last week's work. Reality check! This piece is much more successful. Moral of the story, put some distance between yourself and your inner critic!

Friday, July 29, 2011

On the Cusp

On the Cusp 12"X10"
Oil on Canvas Panel

For most of the week I have been shackled to my computer trying to get a handle on QuickBooks.  The business side of art, I could do without. my procrastination and avoidance caught up with me but I am taking the books in hand and showing them who's boss.  

The only time I got to paint this week was last night at my friend, Russell Recchion's studio.  This delightful young man is 15 years old. Look closely and you will surely catch  glimpse of the man he will soon become. He was an enthusiastic and responsive model.  It was a treat to make his acquaintance.

I took on a bit of a new challenge with this one. Most of the head is in the light with very little shadow.     
My goal was to create volume and turn the form with temperature.  I am happy with the result and definitely will try this again. As usual, I ended up with "a painting of a person where something there is something wrong with the mouth". A Sargent reference for those of you who may not have heard it before. I find it comforting. 

Now I need a quote about leaving fingerprints in wet paint. Does that mean I don't need to bother signing it?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Independent

The Independent 14"X11" Oil on Canvas Panel

So I am back from Colorado and before I can unpack I get an email from one of my painting buddies letting me know that he has a model at his studio Thursday. My "to do" list is a mile long after being gone for three weeks, but I decided the paperwork could keep one more night.

I was so glad that I went. 

It was great to catch up with friends I hadn't seen for months. The model, Bradford, is a regular chameleon who changes personae with his hats. Whatever the character, he is always fun to paint. I couldn't resist political reference to the blue and red background. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Maureen and Elizabeth

Maureen 12"X 9" oil on canvas panel   

Every once in a while someone comes in to my studio that I connect with immediately. Maureen and her husband Dave are two people that I enjoyed from the moment I met them. Back in February they happened upon my studio while taking a weekend escape from the Denver winter. They filled my space with a wonderful energy and made me feel appreciated as an artist. They left with two small paintings and invited me to come to Denver to paint their daughter when I came to Colorado.

Well, I have been hanging out with them for the past two days in their beautiful Denver home. I had the pleasure of painting both Maureen and her daughter, Elizabeth. It was a great adventure to step into their lives for a brief moment and experience what creative and vibrant people they are.

I gotta do this more often!

Elizabeth 12"X9" oil on canvas panel

Friday, July 15, 2011

Silverthorne Sunset

Silverthorne Sunset
16" X 8"
oil on canvas panel

In case you hadn't noticed, my blog has been very quiet for months. This has truly been one of the busiest years of my life; packed with painting and travel. Things don't look like they are going to slow down anytime soon, so I have decided that there is no time like the present to start blogging again.

Right now, I am taking a break from the Tucson heat in beautiful Silverthorne,  Colorado. I came to the area at the suggestion of my friend and fellow artist, Joanne Hanson.  Joanne works very hard every year to organize the Continental Divide Land Trust's Wildflower Festival Plein Air event and I had the good fortune to be invited to participate.  It was great fun with wonderful people in a very inspiring landscape.
I will be posting some of my plein air pieces from the event later this week.

Meanwhile, this is my favorite painting so far. We have had rain every afternoon. Last Thursday the skies cleared around 8:00 and I took some reference photos of the glorious sunset. it was over fast, but I got what I needed for the painting. Mount Baldy was lit up with a fantastic orange glow that knocked my socks off. I definitely think I will be coming back!