Patricia Cunningham is a fourth generation Californian of distinguished ancestry. She was an alumnus of the University of California where among her many honors she was awarded the Amy Johnson Art Fellowship. This gave her the first trip abroad. She had a close association with two of her teachers, Hans Hoffman and Andre L’Hote. She also studied with Leger, Archipenko and Afro. She made many trips to Europe, most frequently to her beloved Italy.
She served on the faculty of the University of California, Mills College and was a director of the Carmel Art Institute. She was the first woman president of the Carmel Art Association. Her paintings are contained in many art collections and museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of New York.