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Local fine artist’s works celebrate coastal vibe

Above: Artwork by Encinitas artist Laura Cunningham who will showcase her art at the upcoming San Diego Festival of the Arts on June 8 and 9 at Waterfront Park. Courtesy photo

ENCINITAS — Artist Laura Cunningham is a lifelong Southern Californian, “nurtured by the ocean’s beauty.” She communicates her love of the water’s wonder through her fine art — colorful, layered and textured work — while working as a successful graphic designer because she enjoys it.

The busy artist said while being a single mom is her most important mission, she really enjoys her job as a graphic designer and loves the process of being a fine artist.

A living room featuring Cunningham’s “Blush Sky” artwork. Courtesy photo

“My days are busy and fulfilling,” she said. “I’m constantly moving. I’m constantly catching up. But I’ve learned how to be disciplined. And I’ve learned how to structure time – which is sometimes tough for a creative person.”

With a Bachelor of Arts from Cal State Long Beach and a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from The Academy of Arts in San Francisco, the talent studied woodworking, printmaking, oil painting, photography, illustration and design; disciplines that have become facets of her handiwork as a fine artist.

Using photographs of the California coast, the Encinitas resident defines her compositional pieces as “mixed media.” Contemporary and vintage photographs are layered by a myriad of graphic designs and textural elements through a process that includes sewing, painting and wood work.

While every artistic landscape begins with a photograph, Cunningham doesn’t consider herself a photographer.

Laura Cunningham’s unique coastal artwork. Courtesy photo

“Photography’s my starting point, but I don’t interpret or use pictures as straight photographs,” she said. “I’m a multi-disciplined artist who layers and garnishes photographs with elements of mixed media.”

Nautical maps, additional photographs, papers, patterns, hand-stitching, collaged wood, canvases sewn together and painted yardsticks used as framing are among the additional mixed media elements.

Cunningham tags inspirational quotes on each finished piece to “put it all together.”

“My pieces become a harmony of all of the elements,” she said.

Colorful coastal landscapes showcase ocean breezes, salt-water sprays and “most purposefully, a sense of peace and serenity.”

Her work is completed in a private, “lively” home studio filled with high-tech equipment the likes of a format printer, sewing machine and power tools. Basic paints, brushes and a “plethora of canvas” also fill the room.

Cunningham admits that her artistic muse revolves around her love of the coastal environment. Even her wave-y, C-shaped logo, “for Cunningham” tips up as a paintbrush to represent “my roots of growing up with a love for the ocean and for creating art.”

“I know where I am on the planet by living on the coast,” she said. “I just have that connection. I’m forever inspired by everything ocean.”

Her graphic work includes designer T-shirt graphics, catalogues, brochures, posters, logos, invitations and business cards. Cunningham welcomes working with clients to design home and office artwork and collaborating with interior designers and art consultants.

The artist will showcase her art at the upcoming San Diego Festival of the Arts held at San Diego’s Waterfront Park, June 8 and June 9.

The annual event, now in its 33rd year, will exhibit more than 200 domestic and global artisans. Work includes paintings, sculptures, photography, jewelry, ceramics, wood and glass. The San Diego Bayside event will also host a juried competition, a silent auction, a wine and beer garden, live music, and cuisine from the area’s “finest eateries.”

Spearheaded by the Torrey Pines Kiwanis Foundation, a 501 (c)3 that raises funds to support adaptive sports and recreational programs for San Diegans with disabilities, the festival has raised more than $2.5 million since its inception in 1987.

“The San Diego Festival of the Arts raises money for programs that improve the lives of San Diego children, adults and wounded warriors through adaptive sports, recreational and cultural programs,” said Don Ludwig, event chairman. “Artists, a gorgeous setting, entertainment, food and drink create an ideal outing for all San Diegans while raising funds for valuable community-based activities benefitting San Diegans with disabilities.”

Cunningham’s work can also be found in Form and Function on Cedros in Solana Beach and Bliss 101 on Coast Highway in Encinitas.

2019 San Diego Festival of the Arts
June 8-9, 2019
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

County Administration Center Waterfront Park
1600 Pacific Hwy, San Diego CA 92101