Hope Cunningham Fine Art

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

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Ambassador

The Ambassador 14X11 Original Oil Painting

This is Dave McIntyre, President of the Dewees Home Owners Association. That hat requires a gift for diplomacy but that's not why I called him the ambassador. You may remember my last post, which featured Dave's wife, Barbara. I mentioned that Barbara and Dave had just returned from a trip to Africa. What I discovered as I got to know Dave is that he is the Nature Conservancy's World Ambassador to South Carolina. A lot of us talk about how much we care about conservation and sustainability. Dave is walking the talk.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Squash Blossom

Squash Blossom 14X11 Original Oil Painting

This is Barbara McIntyre. She and her husband returned from an African tour just before I wrapped things up for my first stint on Dewees. I was surprised that she and her husband were willing to sit for me so soon after their sojourn. Barbara is an accomplished artist in her own right. She also changed careers midlife by returning to school to study counseling and become a Marriage and Family Therapist. Since I also went back to school in my thirties to earn a BS in psychology and a Master of Social Work we had plenty to talk about. Barbara and I both have adult children with very similar life experiences so it was fun to compare notes.

Barbara wanted to be painted wearing the beautiful squash blossom necklace that her husband gave her which was a bit of a challenge given the 14X11 inch panel size. We shortened it in the back and tied it with a rubber band to fit it in. I like the result.

enough to keepenough

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Kate 14x11 Original Oil on Panel

This young lady is Kate Fairchild, daughter of Judy and Reggie. You may remember seeing her sister, Emily, a couple of weeks ago.  I was impressed with Emily's independence. She showed up on a stormy Sunday afternoon to sit for me. May not sound like a big deal but it is. It rained heavily almost every day for weeks. The island has dirt roads and everyone travels by golf cart. Since the main road was closed to install the new rice gates everyone had to take the long way home on a road that was mostly underwater. Pretty incredible effort for a teenager to go out in that weather alone to hang out with a grown up. Maybe it has something to do with the freedom of driving unsupervised?

Kate was probably the best model of all the people who sat for me. She never seemed to tire and held her pose beautifully. Delightful company on a stormy afternoon.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Play Right

Play Right 14X11 Original Oil Painting

Yesterday you met Jane Savage, this is her husband and co-conspirator Carroll. Together they are the driving force behind the summer solstice theatrical production. Carroll is an intelligent and thoughtful person who speaks his mind and likes to stay busy. Carroll and Jane founded a nonprofit in honor of their son, Jake, that brings music to under-served children. I hope you will follow the link to learn more about their mission and accomplishments.

Jake's Music - The Jake McGuire Savage Foundation

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Savage Beauty

Savage Beauty 14X11 Original Oil Painting

Jane Savage wasn't too sure about sitting for a portrait but eventually warmed to the idea. I'm so glad she did! We had so much fun exploring "wardrobe options" and listening to music that we had to shift gears to settle down to work. Annie Lennox was just too high energy for painting; we felt more like dancing.  Esther, another painter who lives on the island, spent the afternoon with us so there was no shortage of conversational mischief.

Jane and her husband, Carroll, keep things fun on the island by producing a play every year for Summer Solstice. She and Carroll choose a play and tweak the dialogue to make it relevant to the island setting. She had me in stitches recounting past plays where apparently everyone on the island was participating and there was no one left to sit in the audience. This year's play will be Camelot. You can bet I will be there to see it, what a hoot.

I love that folks on the island are participants in the arts. My wish is that this project gives them the same feeling of participation. Hopefully being a part of "Portrait of Dewees" will create some of the same great memories and community fun as their production of "South Pacific"!

Arrie B. and Holly Mack

Arrie B. 14 X 11 Original Oil on Panel

By now I bet you are thinking that there are only adults on Dewees. Not so! While there are only three children living there year round right now, lots of young people come for visits. This young lady is Marion Cotton's grand daughter, Arrie B.  While she looks rather placid here; don't believe it for a second! Arrie was a real pistol, taking a new pose or assuming a new character every time I looked up from the canvas. Resorting to the camera didn't help, she was a real ball of fire. Eventually she was able to sit quietly for a little while because she really wanted to have her portrait done.

Holly Mack 14 X 11 Original Oil on Panel

Holly Mack is Arrie B.'s little brother. He woke up early, dressed himself in the searsucker suit that his grandmother bought him and ran upstairs to breakfast waving a miniature American flag while informing the household that he was ready for his portrait! His Dad sat for me the day before. As far as Molly Mack is concerned anything that Daddy does is something he wants to do too. He was absolutely adorable and sat very still despite his excitement. Of course there was no way to keep him there for four hours so I just worked as quickly as possible and took some pictures. When his enthusiasm flagged we ended the sitting and I finished from a photo. In retrospect, I wish I had just kept the sketch and started over. In the future I hope to do just that.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Kindrid Spirit

Kindred Spirit 14 X 11 Original Oil on Panel

It didn't take me very long to realize that it was going to be asking a lot for some people for sit for four hours. Now, of course that doesn't mean that I literally asked folks to sit still for that time; we take as many breaks as needed to keep the experience comfortable and pleasant. Still for some people it was clearly more pleasant than others.

Wanting the experience to be collaborative and fun for the sitter, I decided to tweak my approach. I began taking lots of references photos early on and working like a demon during the first hour and a half to block in the big shapes and make color notes. When eyes began to glaze over and people looked like they would rather be somewhere else, I let them go and finished from the photo as quickly as possible.

Not so with Kathy. We enjoyed getting to know one another so much that five hours flew by before we knew it. These are the creative moments I live for, when I am so immersed in my project that I lose all sense of time. Adding another person to the mix makes the experience so much richer. I am continually surprised by how much I find in common with a person who starts the sitting as a stranger and finishes as a friend.

Kathy is a remarkably creative woman; she paints in acrylics, arranges flowers, takes stunning photographs and is a gifted and resourceful interior designer. Better still, she loves to share her gifts and often arranges flowers for events on Dewees Island.  Her ideas for the flowers for my show at the owners meeting blew my mind. This is a woman who doesn't do anything half way! I had the pleasure of being invited to her home for dinner. As you might expect, she is a fabulous cook as well!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Green Peace

Green Peace 14 X 11 Original Oil Painting

Spending time with Ginnie Moser was an adventure. She is a generous and energetic spirit in a small package that barely contains her love for life. Being a redhead she loves to wear green but she lives green as well. Ginnie can tell you the carbon footprint of your dinner plate and raises awareness of the impact of human choices on the environment. She and her husband, Artus, live very rich and creative lives that bring enjoyment to everyone around them.

I am taking a brief break in Tucson after a month of painting on Dewees. In that time I completed nineteen portraits. By the time I varnished and framed them I had just enough energy to clear out my gear to make room for the show on the 22nd of March at the annual owners meeting. This group is just the "first installment". Hopefully, I will be returning to the island in the late Spring for round two.