Nan Cunningham, as described by a contemporary, "is a powerful colorist who makes any subject her own: from still life to figures, with animals or dynamic abstractions, her style is unmistakable and riveting." From the heritage of a Deep South upbringing in teh staid traditions and unsettling turbulence of Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1950s and '60s, through her academic and studio experiences at Auburn University, to the life of a working artist and teacher, Nan's reflections upon the journey are the artistic records of her deep explorations. As expressed in her own words, "It's about the process, not the product [Italics added].
But those products are the tapestries and signposts from the world of color and form that she magically crafts for us in paint, and in the hands-on guidance of the engaging workshops for which she is so well known and loved. When asked about the details of that process, she says, "I don't really know exactly where it all comes from... An abstraction, an image or, well, a pot of hydrangeas...whatever the subject that catches my attention...it is the feeling, the emotion, the light of a good day that shines through it. It's magic."
Her process begins with the first touch of the brush to the paint, the paint to the surface, and then movement of emotional energy through the medium. She says, "The brushstroke is the most telling thing. The moment one puts the first mark on the paper or the canvas, the movement begins...the movement of the medium and the emotion. That is how the story begins--with the mark, the first mark. The movement surpasses the subject. If the student, the artist, is honest and the work is honest, then it just "happens." We tap into it...whatever "it" is."
From "Nan Cunningham." Art Galleries & Artists of the South, Volume 3, Issue 2.