Hope Cunningham Fine Art

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

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sole Sister

Sole Sister 14x11 Original Oil Painting

For those of you who have been following my blog, you may remember the portrait of a young lady named Natalie. This beautiful woman is Natalie's mother, Veronica.

For two years Veronica and two other friends met with me at 6am three times a week to work with our personal trainer, Laurie, at the Tucson Raquet Club. This group became a second family for me. We called each other sole sisters because we sometimes ran together and ran a marathon relay together. When my life got too busy with travel and work to continue, I dropped out of the group but my friends did not drop me. They are patiently waiting for me to come back to work out. I sure hope they don't have to wait too much longer because they look awesome and I gained twenty pounds!

I loved painting Veronica. She naturally assumed such a lovely feminine gesture and never stopped smiling the entire time she posed. She was so obviously interested in the process and brought a wonderful energy to the task. We had a great day together. Life is good!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Architect

The Architect 14X11 Original Oil Painting

On Saturday my new friend, Bob Vint sat for me. Bob is a wonderful architect who is working with John and I on plans for a new studio and guest house on our property. I haven't had too many men sit for me so this was a delightful change of pace.

Bob and I got to know each other so much better during our time together. As he recounted his adventures with  oil painting during college, it became obvious to me that this is a man who needs to get back in the studio. When a person speaks with nostalgia about the seductive aroma of turpentine, you know they are hooked and there is no turning back! I look forward to painting with Bob in my new studio once it's built.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Rose In Pink

Rose In Pink 14 X 11 Original Oil Painting

This is my friend and fellow artist, Roseann Munger. Roseann also paints in oils and she loves to paint people doing interesting things, especially dancing. When I first mentioned my portrait painting project to Roseann, she thought it was interesting, but didn't want to sit. After she saw my first few portraits, she got excited about the project and wanted to support my efforts.

Roseann was an incredible and patient model. Toward the end of the sitting I could tell that she was ready to go. We looked at the painting together and realized that her mouth was in the wrong place. She was such a good sport about climbing back into her chair so I could make it right. Honestly, I wiped it out, repainted it a fraction of an inch higher and we were done in ten minutes. I couldn't have done these paintings without the support of my artist friends in Tucson. Friends are always amazing, but friends who help you learn and advance your career are priceless! Thank you Roseann.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Red Beads

Red Beads 14" X 11" Original Oil Painting

This painting gets delivered to the client tomorrow morning. I hate to give it up! Maybe I should buy it from her? This lovely woman walked into my Tucson studio after I had started the alla prima portrait project and was fascinated by the opportunity. She scheduled an appointment and came back to sit for me a week later. During out time together, we found out that we had more than a little in common.  Invariably it seems that as I study a person's face, much more than surface topography is revealed.  I loved this woman's directness and self-assurance. Painting the glasses was a bit of a challenge; I had to edit the shadows from the specs to keep from obscuring her beautiful eyes. Stay tuned folks, I am painting her daughter on Monday.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Natalie 14 x 11 Original Oil Painting

This past week I have been painting up a storm. It's really hard to restrain myself from posting more than one image at a time. With each portrait, I am getting more excited by the project.

On Friday, I painted two alla prima portraits. This is the second one of the day. It was a new challenge because my model was a fifth grader.  Natalie was very interested in the process, but more interested in helping me paint. She wanted to know all about how I mixed colors, drew, applied paint and cleaned up. Predictably, she was much less interested in sitting still. She liked posing, just wanted to take a more dramatic one every time! Honestly, she did do a wonderful job and was a joy to work with. After about an hour and a half, I knew there would be able no restraining her natural exuberance much longer. I gave her a long break and we called it quits after two hours.

I know, she looks older than a fifth grader. (Naturally, she was delighted by this turn of events.) Obviously much more practice painting children is called for. The experience offered some valuable lessons that will (hopefully!) inform my next attempt at working with a young model.  I also learned how important it is to leave the paint alone once I stop for the day. After going back into the painting the next day to tweak it, I found I hurt rather than helped the painting. Perhaps in the effort to retain a spontaneous freshness it's necessary to just accept minor flaws. Better still, next time I will use a mirror to check my drawing!

What I do love about this painting is the arrangement of color and value. This is the first time I used such a high key background, I really like the result.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Gravitas Original 14 X 11 Oil Painting

Tonight, my good friend and fellow artist, Barbara Conaway, sat for me. What a good sport. She let me wrap her head in a scarf and pose her like a department store mannequin.  I like the bohemian look of the headscarf and found a great way to bring color into the painting.

The set up reminded me of a Self Portrait demo David Leffel did a couple of years ago at a Portrait Society convention in Atlanta. As I sat in the dark and watched him begin his portrait on stage, I pondered the flambouyant scarf about his brow.  At first I thought it was an affectation, that he was putting on old hippie airs. Boy howdie! Did I get my come-uppance! As I watched him paint, I realized that the scarf was a brilliant compositional device that created an elegant entry into his painting, continuing around his brow to lead the eye through the composition and create form. I love being proven wrong when I am being a judgmental ass!

Brilliant too, is my model. I called this one gravitas because what I have seen Barbara take on over the past few years. There is a certain peaceful calm and sense of humor that a person who has endured trial by fire exudes. This is one strong woman!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Red Headed Angel

Red Headed Angel Original 14" x 11" Oil Painting

The delightful woman who posed for me today is Jane Hamilton, founder, owner and operator of a wonderful gallery here in Tucson. We are neighbors and she has always treated me as one. From the first opening in my new space, Jane has been a tireless cheerleader and source of inspiration and advice. She has nurtured and promoted the talents of an eclectic group of regional artists. I am fortunate indeed to count her as a friend. Jane's generousity and enthusiasm don't end with the art world, she contributes significantly to the community in a variety of ways; we are lucky to have her.
Jane also happens to be Sarah's mother, so I am doubly blessed that both of them sat for me.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Sculptor Original 14X11 Oil Painting on panel

Today my friend Robert Deurloo posed for me. Robert is a wonderful sculptor who winters here in Tucson. We met a few years ago at the Empire Ranch Show, where we both were exhibiting. Painting Robert was a real treat; fellow artists are always so encouraging and supportive. One of the things I am hoping to get better at while doing these sketches is multi-tasking. I want to be able to carry on a conversation to keep things relaxed and interesting for the sitter. Robert made it so easy, he was so curious and full of surprises that he kept me quite entertained!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sarah's Feathered Cap Original 14X11 Oil Painting

OK, OK, I know I haven't posted in ages. Life has been really busy but really great. Lots of travel and two new grandchildren keeping me busy.  The wonderful news is that I have a new project that I am very excited about. I have been wanting to get back to alla prima portrait painting for some time. Inspired by Rose Frantzen's "Portrait of Maquoketa" I decided to approach a very unique community in near Charleston, South Carolina with the idea of doing a community portrait. They are intrigued by the idea so I will be spending February on Dewee's Island painting alla prima portraits of the first brave souls to volunteer to sit for me. Meanwhile, I need to get my painting groove on after months of focusing on family and barely lifting a brush. Today, I tested the waters with my first guinea pig, Sarah Hamilton. I am encouraged.