Hope Cunningham Fine Art

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

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pieces of Eight

Pieces of Eight 14X11 Original Oil Painting

This lovely lady is Anne Anderson. She is extraordinarily active on Dewees and very generous with her time and talents. Anne is on the Cultural Arts Committee and is responsible for pitching my idea for a portrait project to the rest of the committee and the locals on the island. Because of her efforts I am enjoying island life and getting to know the folks that live here.

One of the reasons that I love doing alla prima portraits is the collaborative relationship with the sitter. Folks often come in with wardrobe and jewelry options and then there is always discussion about whether to wear glasses or not. Anne's glasses are part of her personality and symbolic of her playfullness. She said she used to wear delicate wire rimmed glasses and her decision to try a more colorful and eccentric frame evoked some controversy. Nothing like stirring things up once in a while!

When I first painted her, I didn't include the necklace she was wearing. Sometimes I don't notice jewelry because I am so focused on big shapes and relationships. She asked me to add it and then told me the story about its origins. She told me it was a "pieces of eight coin" and explained that it was an ancient Spanish coin that was commonly cut into eight pieces to make change. It's a beautiful and historical piece and makes for an interesting title.

When I embarked on this project, my plan was to blog about my work on a daily basis. In case you haven't noticed, that hasn't happened. Since I started on the 5th, I have completed seventeen portraits. On some days I do two. Add to that the fifteen I did in Tucson before I left, and you have a significant body of work for six weeks. The end of the day finds me so tired that its all I can do to clean my brushes. I take comfort from quote I read that stated "Some people don't recognize opportunity because it looks a lot like hard work"!

Photographing the wet paintings has been a bit of a challenge. I find natural light works best at eliminating the glare and it has been raining pretty much nonstop for the last two weeks. I probably won't get everything photographed until I stop painting on the 28th. During the first week of March, I will varnish and frame everything and put it into storage for the first show on the 22nd of March. Then it's a quick trip home to Tucson to spend some time with my much neglected and eternally supportive husband. Travel always strengthens my love and appreciation of family and home!

Monday, February 18, 2013


Betsy 14X11 Original Oil on Panel

Betsy is Jim Anderson's daughter-in-law. She visited the island with her teenage daughter and some friends last weekend. It was fun getting to know her and we found we had more in common that we expected. We spent a lot of time talking about the important relationships in our lives and the adventures of parenting teenagers. It was a collaborative painting; Betsy gave my plenty of great feedback during her sitting and stayed for the entire four hours.

By the time we finished I felt that I had made a new friend. During her sitting, Betsy educated me about the tides and the best times to walk on the beach. Since it was a low tide when we finished,  I gathered up my daughter and grand daughter and headed for Osprey Walk. We had the beach to ourselves, but I noticed a long line of recent foot prints leading toward Capers Inlet. As we neared the East end of the island of course we ran in to Betsy! Big beach, small world.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Emily Fairchild 14X11 Original Oil Painting

Today I had the pleasure of working with the delightful 16 year old daughter of Judy and Reggie Fairchild. I think the sitting was a bit of a surprise for her. Her brother was scheduled but had a conflict, so Mom said "Yer up"! She was very generous about sharing her Saturday morning with me. We discovered that we had similar tastes in literature and enjoyed talking about her passion for writing. Emily is fortunate to be attending the magnet school for the arts.

After she had been posing for about and hour, a friend of hers arrived on the ferry to spend the day with her. This delightful young lady is focusing on music at the magnet school for the arts. I had the pleasure of listening to her play piano while both girls sang.

As impressive as their academic achievements are, guess what? Once they sat down in the same room together there was no containing their energy. Forget holding a pose! I took lots of pictures and made color notes; there was no way I was going to have a serenely posing model for four hours. Still, both girls were very interested in the process and delightful to spend time with. I am happy with the result ...lets hope Emily and her Mom are too!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Will the real Bobby Kennedy please stand up?

Bobby Kennedy 14X11 Original Oil Painting

It's impossible not to associate Bobby with the Kennedy Dynasty I grew up hearing about. I don't know if there is any blood connection; but I can say that this Bobby Kennedy is a legendary character in his own right (at least on Dewees Island)! Bobby lived on the island before it became a a conservation easement dedicated to sustainable development. Bobby loves the outdoor life and sailing so Dewees is the perfect place for him. He is most definitely a blues fan. We spent the evening sipping bourbon, talking about how we met the loves of our lives and listening to Madeline Peyroux.  Good times.

I thought folks might like to see where I am working.

View of approaching ferry from the West side of the Island
South Side of Huyler House

Studio in Library at Huyler House

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dewees Portrait Project

Peter Cotton 14X11 Original Oil on Panel

It's been a very busy two weeks here on Dewees Island as the "Portrait of Dewees" project gets up and running. My very gracious hosts, Marion and Peter Cotton, have given me the use of of their beautiful home for the duration on my first painting stint on the island. Marion and Anne Anderson introduced me to folks on the island and helped me to set up a studio space in the Huyler House library. It's a great space with good light and is working out beautifully.

Anne and Jim Anderson hosted a welcome reception for me where I met some of the island residents. The folks here are wonderful and excited about participating in this community project. The plan for now is to paint as many folks on the island as possible before the annual owners meeting in March. The portraits will be presented at that time along with the concept: to capture the spirit of this unique island community in a series of portraits completed over the coming year. The portraits will be photographed (by someone who knows what they are doing, which is not me) and compiled in a book about the island. The book will be launched at the portrait exhibition.

So far, I have painted six portraits. If you are on the island, you can drop by the library at the Huyler House to see them. Meanwhile, I will be blogging about the project most days. Sign up to follow the blog and see who is being painted!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Kathi 14X11 Original Oil Painting

This is another artist friend who volunteered to sit for me. She very graciously gave up her Saturday afternoon to support my effort. After she left, I took the painting outside to get a photo. The shutter clicked just before the wind picked up and blew it over. Argh! Never pays to be in a hurry. Luckily, I have been down this road before. Usually if a painting is allowed to dry, little bits of debris can be brushed off. Not so lucky this time. The surface of the paint was scratched so I had to do some repainting. The good news is it looked better  after the touch up. Bad news is there was no way I was going to take it back out in the wind for another photo!

I am happy to tell you that I have safely navigated the 2000 mile trip from Tucson, Arizona to Charleston, South Carolina. I am so happy to be out of the car! It may be a few days before I stop walking funny. Tomorrow morning I am meeting with one of the owners at Dewees to set up my studio. Painting starts on Wednesday!