PFI Medallion Contest Winner: Dee Cunningham

Congratulations Dee Cunningham!

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Medallion Contest Winner-Dee Cunningham

“A painting starts with a series of sketches.  To get to this point there are several hours of research, designing, discussions with the client, revisions, then final approval.  Sometimes the sketch is done in color. For this piece, we had images of stone that we selected for age, color and patina. I usually start with an underpainting of values to help create the depth before adding color. This also helps with getting to the right value without a ton of paint. I don’t always do this, but for Trompe L’oeil it helps me see the dimension and establish light and shadow placement. Next I add the tones of the stone.  I premix my main colors and tweak them on the palette as I go.  This piece has a lot of warm shadows and cool highlights. I spend countless hours searching for the right references.  Without them, I am unable to really replicate the natural qualities of the material. Once the main areas are blocked in, I like to go back and tweak areas to make sure its cohesive.” See more photos and details of Cunningham’s process here.

Review from Pierre Finkelstein:

I really like Dee’s usage of accent and halftone-  especially on the upper and lower crest.  I think the strong accent really brings out the dimension. I would have probably tried to maintain the a same intensity throughout the other elements as the light would hit all the elements with the same intensity.  It seems like the upper and lower element have darker accent tones than the rest.

PFI Medallion Wiiner- Detail

The composition is well planned. I like the symmetry of the piece and 2 draperies at the bottom that anchor the piece downward.  I would recommend you increase the cast shadow on the wall given the intensity of the shadowing.  In reality, it would cast a stronger and deeper shadow on the wall.

PFI Medallion Winner- Bottom Detail

I really like what you’ve done with bas relief in the center.  Just watch out that the shadowing of bas relief would be different  than the rest of the two dimensional elements because it has been flattened purposefully.  Usually, the cast shadow and highlight are mostly on the outer edge of all the elements because they’re extremely flat in the center.

PFI Medallon Winner- Center Detail

PFI Medallion Winner- finished/ installed ornament

Overall you’ve done a wonderful job both in composition and execution and I really think that you have an excellent understanding of medallion ornamentation and trompe l’oeil. Good job, Dee!

About Dee Cunningham:

Cunningham graduated from Towson University in 2000 where she received a Bachelors of Science in Art Education, Cum Laude. She has studied fine art at Pratt Institute, Maryland College of Art and Design, and McDaniel College. As an undergraduate she was able to study and experience living abroad in Florence, Italy.

Cunningham has studied with some of the industry’s top artists, including Shared Vision non-profit founder William Cochran.  Cunningham was hand selected by Cochran, with only six other artists from the country, to work on “The Dreaming”, a five-story public art piece in Historic Frederick Maryland.  Cunningham has also organized a team of 30 artists to work on the new home for “Boys Hope Girls Hope” of Baltimore for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  Her work has been featured on HGTV’s “My Big Amazing Renovation.” In 2011 she was voted “Baltimore’s Best” Decorative Artist by Baltimore Magazine. Most recently Dee traveled to Paris to study with fellow artists under the tutelage of Pierre Finkelstein and Jean Luc Sable; both recipients of the Best Craftsman of France award. During the visit, she was able to experience a behind-the-scenes tour of both the Palace of Versailles and the Louvre under the guidance of both Pierre and Jean Luc. See details for this years 2014 Versailles Workshop.

Medallion Contest Winner- Versailles 2013 Panel
Cunningham’s niche panel with marble, Versailles Class 2013

Cunningham has worked with clients all across Maryland as well as Virginia, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.  She has worked in private residences and commercial settings. Find Dee on Facebook, or visit her Website!


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  1. Beautiful work

  2. Jeremy P Taylor says:

    Beautiful work !!

  3. Thanks Pierre!!

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