Art book or text book? And a note on styles.

In writing and illustrating my book, A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California (Heyday: 2010), I had originally intended it to be more of an art book, filled with pages of large oil paintings and field sketches. Something for the coffee table I had hoped. After four years of editing, the book turned out to be more text and somewhat less artwork, but Heyday did a wonderful job of creating a manageable, readable work from my unwieldy manuscript. Still a good art book, I thought.

A lot of artwork was left on the cutting room floor, however, and I am going to use it for my upcoming book on Oil Painting Landscapes and Nature. Here are a sampling of illustrations I had completed years ago as Chapter title pages for A State of Change. I am re-purposing them now as new Chapter titles for my current manuscript. As an aside, I have been accused of having too many artistic "styles." But I enjoy exploring different media, materials, and stylistic expressions. Why should an a…

Carrizo Plain: a glimpse of California back in time

I drove through Carrizo Plain in late April on the way to the Bay Area for some book and art events; I stopped, I walked around, I took photos, and my jaw dropped.

My timing to visit the broad valley and surrounding South Coast Ranges in southern California was off, I had missed the peak according to all accounts on the Internet and social media. So I was not sure what I was going to encounter. Perhaps the Superbloom had dried up?

No--it was amazing. In fact the best wildflower display I have ever seen in the California Floristic Province. It was epic. Prehistoric. What California might have been like before European Contact 300 years ago.

I grew up in California and spent decades exploring the Golden State, searching out wildflower displays, observing and trying to see what the grasslands and oak savannas might have looked like. And I was quite pleased to drive into Carrizo Plain and experience something I had not seen before.

My first visit to Carrizo Plain was in the mid 1980s when…

Oil Painting Demo Fun Class at Albany Hill

My oil painting demo at Albany Hill, California, went well in April. I had a nice local area crowd show up for my outdoor demonstration of oil painting techniques and plein air methods.

I had designed the hour-long class in the Bay Area to highlight basic oil painting materials and show beginning methods for understanding oil painting. I was pleased with the curiosity and enthusiasm, as many people had tried watercolor but wanted to explore oils. A few people had experience with oil painting and were eager to go deeper.

The students told me that oil painting can be intimidating because of the huge selection of materials you encounter when walking into an art store. Where to start? So I designed this class to simplify and organize the variety of painting materials, and let students experiment with different methods to see what they liked. I am a great believer in having a firm grasp of technique, so the student can then be creative and go their own way with high quality results.


Oil Painting Demo at Albany Hill

Join me on Earth Day, April 22, 2017, at 2 PM for an hour-long demonstration of oil painting methods and materials. This will be quite informal and fun, out on Beautiful Albany Hill near to where I grew up.

I will also have a few books for sale: see the announcement on thew Heyday website.

In cooperation with Friends of Albany Hill, in the East Bay, California.


Are you curious about oil painting landscapes and nature? Come up to the top of Albany Hill on Earth Day for an hourlong demonstration of oil painting methods for painting beautiful local landscapes, by Laura Cunningham, artist and author of A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California.
Beginners welcome, this is a demo to show you the basic materials and starting methods for painting a landscape in oil colors outdoors, using traditional methods. For Earth Day we will also discuss environmentally-friendly and non-toxic materials for painting. You will see some of the techniques I used to paint many of the illustra…

My New Website

Visit my new website: Laura Cunningham Fine Art, at

FASO (Fine Art Studio Online) has put together a nice package for artists to show online galleries, portfolios, announce events, and communicate with viewers. I have had many requests over the years to buy my artwork, so I have put together this website where you may purchase original paintings and drawings. I will be selling prints too later this year. 
I will blog about art, natural history, and science on this website as well, and continue to blog here.
Check this website for upcoming events, book talks, and art workshops. 
And sign up there for my Newsletter!

Oil Painting Classes in Shoshone, California, with the Wildflower Bloom

Beginners welcome! If you have never lifted a paintbrush in your life, this class will help you get a start with the wonderful world of oil painting. This workshop is designed for anyone who wants to try painting and learn how to start depicting landscapes and natural history subjects, both indoors and out in the field in the beautiful Mojave Desert.

If you have oil painting experience and want to learn more about traditional techniques I will show you what I have researched about landscape painting methods from history, through the Renaissance to the French Academy, and Impressionism.

The wildflowers should be amazing by mid March--the region has received a lot of rain, and I will take you out to the nearby desert to explore the diversity of plants and wildflowers. We will also do some birdwatching and observations of lizards (and perhaps even a desert tortoise). Death Valley National Park is right next door.

Supplies will be provided! You can bring your own drawing and painting mat…

Oil Painting Classes Coming This Spring to the Desert

I'm organizing a weekend oil painting workshop for late March or April in the town of Shoshone Village CA next to Death Valley National Park. You will be able to come for a day or spend the night for both days. I'll be providing supplies and you can also bring your own for sketching, drawing, and painting. 

This course will be great for absolute beginners who have never lifted a paintbrush, since I will show you all the materials and starting techniques. If you are a seasoned oil painter, you may learn some advanced methods used by traditional landscape oil painters through the centuries that I have extensively researched.

There are motel accommodations available and camping, as well as a cafe. A community center will be our classroom for some presentations I will give about materials and landscape painting techniques. There will be good wildflowers displays nearby from all the rains, and we will take some short field trips to see the scenery. Natural history observation, birdin…