Hope Cunningham Fine Art

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

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Instant Glamour

Instant Glamour 14X11 Original Oil on Panel

Caroline Smith radiates a poised and elegant aura. From the first time I saw her I was charmed and curious about who was behind those shades. When she agreed to sit for me, she scheduled an early morning appointment and came in feeling a bit unenthusiastic about having her portrait painted. We tried her in lots of different poses and lighting, with her eyeglasses on and without them. It wasn't until she said that no one would recognize her without her shades that we decided to try posing with her sunglasses on.

She lit up like a hundred watt bulb.

Since she felt so much more comfortable this way, we ran with it. In truth, I am sure its a better likeness because she felt so much more relaxed.

Don't think for a minute that she was hiding out behind those shades. We spent the morning getting to know each other and found that we shared and early and abiding interest in art, psychology and social work. Both of us trained as artists and then as Social Workers. We both engaged in social work early in our careers and eventually returned to creative endeavors. Caroline is an talented and sought after Interior Designer.

What we, and many other women on Dewees, also share is being middle aged.  We tend to maintain a self image based on our youthful looks. Being photographed or painted confronts us with a different reality. What most of us don't seem to realize is that beauty still radiates. Other people see it every day, but we are so hard on our selves. I knew this about myself; it was a surprise to find it others whom I admire so much.

This feeling is not unique to women. Jack Nicholson once said "With my sunglasses on, I'm Jack Nicholson, without them I'm fat and 60."

I get it.

I wear great big glamorous sunglasses when I go out, too.  When I look in the mirror, I don't wear any glasses at all, because without vision "correction" I think I look thirty and beautiful. Makes me just as happy as the shades. Seems like I'm in very good company on this one.

The most wonderful thing about this project has been the opportunity get a glimpse into others' internal lives. I often feel different, apart, from other people. When I attend to a model in the studio I find that the more I listen, the more I learn how similar we all are. I find myself strengthened, encouraged, and affirmed by these shared experiences.

This is what happens when you take time to really see another person.

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