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Portrait of Tank, a Black Cat Portrait Painting

Commissions and Personal Work: One Fuels the Other

I split my studio time about equally between commissioned work and personal work. With a one-year-old and a part time job at the Seattle Art Museum, I guard my painting time carefully. My priority is always to finish commissions on time, and that sometimes means putting off other paintings.

With plenty of ideas to begin with, paintings can be put on the back burner for years. A series of nine paintings of black cats was one such series but between my commissions and a backlog of other personal work, that project is at least two years away. You can imagine I was very excited to receive a request to paint this portrait of the black cat, Tank!

I love how the painting came out, and it gives me the feeling my black cats project is not so far away. It eases a sense of urgency and being short of time, by getting some of my ideas out of my head and into the world. In so doing it also helps to inform my future work. When I finally paint my black cats series, (future Monthly Miniatures perhaps?), I will have a better idea of what I want to explore, having already ‘pulled back the curtain’ and taken a peek.

I am thankful for this invitation to paint Tank and the opportunity to explore the mystique and beauty of black cats! I am so lucky to do work that lets me feel so thankful, so often.  If you have a black cat, I would love to paint his or her portrait. Read about commissioning a pet portrait at my commissions page. Tanya and family also commissioned two duck stuffed animal paintings that were both a delight to paint.

From Tanya:

…we love tank’s portrait
It was hard to convince my mother it wasn’t a photograph
Many thanks

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Happy New Year! Reflections on 2017 and wishes for 2018

It’s been a very eventful year, filled with joy, sorrow and everything in between. When not painting, I either take care of my little guy, work part time at the Seattle Art Museum, work in the garden or do what feels like a million loads of laundry a week (cloth diapers, people! need I say more??). Watching my son turn one and grow and learn at an alarming rate is enough to boggle the mind. He has definitely been the highlight of my year and has inspired my series of Monthly Miniatures, the Children of Artist’s.

I’ll wrap up this series in 2018 and develop plans for exhibiting the paintings together with works by all of the artist parents. Lots of exciting commissions are booked for this year but I still have a few slots open. They’re filling up fast though, so if you have a project in mind, contact me soon and we can get it scheduled before next holiday season. I hope you’ll keep checking back to see what I’m up to and if you haven’t already, please subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Instagram. Thank you for all the support and encouragement!

A Happy and Healthy New Year to you All!

 

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Painting of a Young Man, a Portrait Miniature

Conor is the son of two artists. I’ve known his father, sculptor Tom Gormally for years. And although we only recently met, I have known of his mother as one of Seattle’s most talented portrait artists.

From the first look, I saw Conor as having a classic look. I immediately thought of one of my favorite portrait painters, Gerald Leslie Brockhurst. Brockhurst was born in the late 1800’s and painted portraits of the English gentry and Hollywood stars in the 1930’s. So I dressed Conor up a bit and added a backdrop of Mount Rainier, painted in Brockhurt’s muted style.

As Malayka and Tom write about Conor, it feels like looking into my future; and when Malayka describes her conversation with Faye Jones, I remember having the same conversation with my dear friend Andi. More and more I feel bonds of common experience, even with people I have yet to meet, like Faye Jones.

Parenthood can strain lives and challenge friendships, not to mention art making, but it is wonderful how connections are built and strengthened too. So once again I want to thank everyone who has agreed to participate in this project! And without further ado, the Gormally family:

Malayka, Tom and Connor

From Makayla:

Our son Conor turned twenty today, and we enjoyed visiting with him at his college dorm via Facetime. When I first became pregnant, I didn’t know how I would handle being an artist and a mother. Now we have a wonderful grown son, and I’m also grateful for the ways in which being a parent has affected my art practice.

I remember being pregnant and walking on Alki beach on a cloudy day with artist Faye Jones, whom I had asked to talk with me about how she combined parenting and being an artist. She had raised four children while building a successful career, and explained to me that she had painted small works at home when her children were very young, and from then-on worked a full day, every day, at a studio down on First Avenue. I remember her saying, “I just did it.”

Before becoming pregnant, I painted abstract work. I was so fascinated with my body’s changes that I started painting myself in the mirror and then painted Conor as a baby.  Over the next couple of years, I developed a commission portrait painting business which I’ve maintained to this day. In the last several years, as Conor has become more independent, I’ve been able to focus on my non-commission paintings and expand my career.

I’ve always painted at home which allowed me to be there for Conor in the afternoons, on sick days, and for school events – for which I’m grateful. It also means that Conor has been involved in every part of the art-making process. He regularly gave me feedback on portrait paintings in-progress. Conor is now my go-to business advisor as he has a good head for pricing, negotiation, etc. As a skilled writer, Conor has played a crucial role in that he serves as our editor and composition aid for every grant application, artist statement, and bio that his dad and I write. We consider Conor to be a crucial part of the family art business.

Makayla, Tom, Connor, Sean and Delvin

From Tom:

I’m the father of three boys; Conor is my youngest son. It was a surprise for me to become a father again so late in life; I love him…he is a gift. It’s been amazing to watch Conor develop as a human being and as a student; he is a wonderful young man and it makes my life richer to journey along with him. I’ve appreciated Conor’s help with writing art applications and creating work in the studio. We enjoy cooking together, watching films, and especially talking sports together and with Conor’s half-brothers Sean and Devlin.

Malayka Gormally artwork

We Are All Immigrants, oil paint on Arches oil paper, 22″ x 30″

Malayka Gormally

Malayka Gormally’s paintings are in over one hundred collections nationwide, including the collections of Safeco Insurance, the City of Kent, and the City of Seattle Portable Works Collection. Her portrait clients have included individuals who have been board members at the Seattle Art Museum, the Henry Gallery, and the Palm Springs Art Museum. She currently has work in 10x10x10xTieton 8th International Small Works Exhibition, and she is preparing for an upcoming two-person exhibition at Spaceworks Gallery in Tacoma. She completed the Artist Trust EDGE Professional Development Program in 2015 and was awarded a 2017 Art Projects Grant by 4Culture to create portraits of immigrant and refugee women in King County. Her website is MalaykaGormally.com.

Tom Gormally sculpture

“Rough Road to the Apocalypse”, installation view;
wood, resin, paint, favric, lights, electronic motors, 48″ x 168″ x 36″

Tom Gormally

Tom Gormally is known for his whimsical and thought-provoking sculptures that incorporate wood craftsmanship with found objects, diverse materials, and LED lighting. He has exhibited nationally and internationally for 40 years, including the Katonah Museum (NY), Des Moines Art Museum (IA), Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (KS), among others. He created site-specific sculptures in Seattle and Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the Horsehead International Outdoor Sculpture Exhibitions.Tom has also exhibited large-scale sculptures at the Bellwether International Sculpture Exhibitions, Bellevue, WA. Press coverage includes reviews in Sculpture Magazine and The New Art Examiner as well as BBC TV and radio interviews. Tom is a past-recipient of an NEA award for sculpture and was awarded a 2015 Artist Trust Fellowship. His work can be seen at TomGormallySculpture.com.

Learn more about other paintings in the Monthly Miniature, Children of Artists series

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Miniature Dog Portrait Painting, Softening Loss with Joyful Memories

When I first started painting pet portraits, I never imagined I would paint so many in memoriam. It’s a hard thing to explain why a painting should feel more significant than, say, the photo it’s based on, but I think it’s the care put into making it. I love that all the smiling dogs and bright eyed cats that I’ve painted will be just as happy and alert in their portraits for hundreds of years to come. They will not only bring a moment of joy to their much loved companion, but also to countless generations of viewers after all of us are gone. It’s an honor to make these paintings.

Hicks was one such special dog. I painted his portrait for Megan, whose husband was very close to Hicks. Our time with our pets is brief, but the love we experience is profound. We dread the moment of loss almost from the first, and it is always too soon. I know how it feels to lose a dog so well loved, and I think that is why I never get tired of painting memorial pet portraits.

I have a little portrait of Buster, my favorite companion who I lost six years go, hanging where I can see him every day. His portrait honors our connection and keeps his memory warm in my heart. It also gives me occasion to talk about him more, and tell stories of special memories. Painting it and having it helped me turn my grief at his passing into a celebration of our friendship. If you are considering a similar gift for yourself or a loved one, let me personally encourage you. If you have any questions about it, you may read my Commissions page or reach out to me directly.

From Megan:

Oh my gosh. It’s amazing!! I have tears in my eyes writing this. My husband loved it. It is so beautiful. I can’t thank you enough.

IGOR Realist Art Opening at Winfield Gallery in Carmel

Artist Rebecca Luncan at art opening with her family

Artist Rebecca Luncan at art opening with her family at Winfield Gallery in Carmel, California

The whole family flew down to California to attend the art opening for The International Guild of Realism’s 12th annual International Juried exhibition.

The prestigious Winfield Gallery in the heart of the Carmel Art District is hosting the exhibit this year, held from September 23rd through October 23rd. Artists traveled from all over the world to attend the opening reception. My appearance at this opening gave me the opportunity to meet wonderful artists, as well as the leadership of IGOR. It was also a great opportunity to make new friends that are as passionate about realism as I am. As you can see in the image above, my paintings were in great company. With over a hundred painting’s selected from different guild members, the subject matter varied, but the craftsmanship did not. See all of the works included in the exhibition.

human and animal figurative portraits by Rebecca Luncan

“Admiral Vox”, oil on aluminum, 8″ x 8″ and “Vigil”, oil on aluminum, 15″ x 15″

Two Paintings Accepted

I had two paintings accepted into the show and I was doubly privileged to also receive the “Creative Achievement” award. I usually treat my animal portraits much like my portraits of people and tend to keep them rather formal. Both of these paintings are part of two different larger series of work. Admiral Vox is part of my Into the Country series, which focuses on portraits of a wide array of animals all painted in a classical Dutch portrait style.  Vigil is part of a series of figurative paintings of my lovely sister in law, Molly.

International Guild Of Realism's 12th Annual exhibition

International Guild Of Realism’s 12th Annual exhibition

About the Gallery:

Winfield Gallery was founded in 1989 by Christopher Winfield. Their principal focus is the representation of contemporary art by established, mid-career and emerging artists whose diverse practices include painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics and photography. The gallery hosts multiple exhibitions a year and maintains a deep commitment to promote our artists’ careers. Winfield Gallery collaborates with museum curators, produce catalogs and books, establish relationships with the press and continue collector education and development. The gallery creates an atmosphere that builds bridges between the creative work, collectors and art enthusiasts at all levels.”

Portraits of a Lady and Gentleman, Formal Portraits of Rabbits in Miniature

Pair of rabbit miniature portraits

Portrait of a Gentleman and Portrait of a Lady, oil on aluminum, 5″ x 5″

Making portraits of rabbits is serious (and silly) business

Living with animals means forming unusual patterns of communication and quite powerful loving bonds. These two bunnies reside in my painting studio and we’ve become quite good friends. I’ve made many paintings of them over the past several years, some silly and some serious. These two paintings take the prize for the most formal in the bunch, however, yet these portraits are also as serious and silly as the rabbits they portray.

17th century Dutch portraits heavily influenced how I composed these portraits. Vermeer’s, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is a prime example of this type of painting. My fascination for this genre can also be seen in my Into the Country monthly miniatures, created at the same time as these two.

The paintings explore our relationships with animals and their relationships with each other. I’ve spent most of my career painting portraits of people and my portraits of rabbits reflect that. There is an irony in a formal portrait painting of a rabbit because relationships between animals are seen as less legitimate than between humans. And more so this diptych since it anthropomorphizes the bond between this pair. Yet these two rabbits did dearly love each other and the feeling that an animal is “part of the family” is certainty not uncommon. So beyond being both silly and serious, they also feel at once ironic and genuine.

International Guild of Realism Accepted Two Paintings for 12th Annual Exhibition

Two paintings accepted in 12th annual International Juried Exhibition

Admiral Vox and Vigil, two paintings accepted in 12th annual International Juried Exhibition

The International Guild of Realism

Fashions come and go, and fads of the art world are no different. Realistic painting on the other hand persists through thousands of years of history, although its popularity rises and falls like anything else. It is not a reaction to some ephemeral idea in culture, but an effort to get in touch with some defining part of our humanity.

Part of what attracts me to realistic painting is the deep traditions and techniques that build throughout history. A realistic painting feels more to me like an act of craftsmanship than some kind of personal reaction or a commentary. There is something powerful and moving for me in being part of a tradition, practicing and helping to build on a body of knowledge and technique.

Yet there is still room for expression and exploration, both in abundance at the ‘IGOR’ 12th Annual International Juried Exhibition where my two paintings above showed (Admiral Vox won the ‘Creative Achievement’ award). The International Guild of Realism aims to advance realism in fine art by producing museum exhibitions, gallery shows, workshops and education programs.

Says IGOR of realism:

For us, “realism” ranges from the classical based upon traditional, academic-style painting to the contemporary where cutting edge techniques and a wide variety of subject matter are used to comment on today’s world. Our members represent a wonderful spectrum of styles including (but not limited to) Trompe l’Oeil, photorealism, surrealism, and super-realism.

The International Guild of Realism was founded by a group of leading professional realism artists from around the globe in 2002 with four goals:

  • Recognize the best realists working today.
  • Create gallery and museum exhibition opportunities.
  • Provide advertising and marketing support for IGOR members.
  • Offer a bridge between art collectors and the highest quality realist art, created by our members.
  • We know that as greater numbers of art lovers have access to high-quality realism, the value of these paintings will increase — not just in monetary terms, but in appreciation, understanding, and international attention.

The exhibition will be held at the prestigious Winfield Gallery in the heart of the Carmel Art District.

Contemporary Portrait Miniature of a Young Woman

Contemporary  portrait miniature  painting of a young woman by Rebecca Luncan

Portrait of Briar, oil on copper, 4″ x 4″

The children of artists: inspiration for us all.

One of the many benefits of working in the arts is meeting many wonderful, creative people. I met Avery Schwartz working at art handling company Artech. Years later his daughter Briar became my intern at the Seattle Art Museum and I was delighted to make a contemporary portrait miniature of her for my Monthly Miniature, Children of Artists series.

Briar was a dream intern, and her value went way beyond her “on-paper” qualities. With her hard work ethic, enthusiasm for trying new things, and easy and warm manner, she charmed all of us in the exhibitions department. I can easily see how she has inspired her fathers work over the course of her life and I’m very fortunate to have her pose as the subject for this Monthly Miniature painting. Her strength, confidence, and sassy wit inspired bold, but careful colors, lots of contrast and a direct composition. I’m confident that wherever Briar goes in life, she will be a source of inspiration to all around her.

Artist Rebecca Luncan holding her miniature portrait painitng of young woman

Portrait of Briar
oil on copper
4″ x 4″

From Avery:

BRIAR – Well let’s see – what about Briar? Twenty seven years ago Polly and I, 40-year-olds, finally scored after three miscarriages. So Briar is our first and only child. Having a kid is a special kind of organic experience that helps me understand what it means to be human. A real thrill to look in to eyes only a few weeks old and see them devouring information around them. And then there are those first steps that irrepressibly are destined to happen. And bulbous full dipes wattling down the sidewalk. One of Briar’s qualities is that, thankfully, she was not shy about wading in to a new group of people and so she, as a kid, acquired friends easily. And Briar has a pretty noble view toward her friends – she is loyal and caring with them and as hard as Polly and I would try to break her connection with some kid, the more she would insist on the friendship.

One of the great things for an artist who has children is to bear witness to children’s art and realize what a powerful message that unfettered creativity can be – that is, not affected by expectation. One of my favorites that Briar did was when she broke a bowl, she taped all of the minuscule pieces back together and wrote on the tape a lengthy apology. (Still have the bowl which some day will get a sculpture pedestal and case). And then there was the drawing of the outside of our house when she, in a pique of anger, threw an expressionistic fit. (Still have it).

We have found that for every phase that Briar passes through we pass through our experiences at that particular age – sort of live it all over again except for this time we calculate and dole out our wisdom in afterthought. And, of course, that affects what I create. For me painting is an intensely searching vehicle that feeds and exercises my personality. I like to work mostly in a spontaneous process, and am always hoping to find some point between what is corporeal and what is not. So I am deeply invested in psychological signals about the human condition because, as Jane Siberry writes in the song Calling All Angels (with k.d. Lang) “we’re not sure how it goes”. So, while we’re at it with quotations, this one by Kevin Bacon, the actor, always helps, “I choose to live by my own code. I just try to be a good father to my children. Be a good husband to my wife, try to be a decent person in a fucked up world, and keep doing the work.”

The Discus Thrower, oil on canvas, 31" x 42, by Avery Schwartz

The Discus Thrower, oil on canvas, 31″ x 42, by Avery Schwartz

Avery Schwartz

“I live and work in Seattle. My painting experience spans 40 years. In 1971 I was given a degree from the San Francisco Art Institute. I lived and worked in the City for sixteen years, living in and helping to develop an early rendition (in S.F.) of a live/work artist’s building – Project Artaud. I met and married my wife and moved to Seattle. We have a fantastic daughter.

I have worked many jobs over the years – everything from carpentry to working in a psychology research lab. In general I hate to work for money and as soon as I am being paid for something I begin to rebel against it. Whatever.

My grandparents were mostly Russian immigrants escaping from conscription into the Czar’s army, or from early communism, or the stigma attached to Jewish blood. My mother’s family suffered from her violent and abusive father from which her mother was divorced twice, until her uncle agreed to support them from the proceeds of an investment in land in Los Angeles. Shortly he killed himself and left the property – which became very valuable on the perimeter of LAX- to his sister, my grandmother. Meanwhile my mother, a woman of unusual beauty, upped her stage by marrying a hard-working son of a carpet salesman determined to have his first son become a doctor.

Like many artists, I was born with a brain that won’t die. Ideas and concepts keep floating in and art keeps running out.”

International Guild of Realism: New Member!

International Guild of Realism

 

The International Guild of Realism: Becoming Part of the Group

I’m happy to announce that I’ve been accepted as a professional member of the International Guild of Realism. Throughout my career, I have been privileged to work and exhibit alongside many talented artists, but only a handful were realists. While it’s helpful to see one’s work alongside a wide variety of styles, finding like-minded artists is incredibly inspiring. The International Guild of Realism’s primary mission is to “advance realism in fine art through museum exhibitions, art gallery shows, workshops and education programs conducted by our members, marketing support, and internet exposure”. It’s an honor to become a member and I’m excited to see where it will lead me.

About the Guild

Founded in 2002 by leading professional artists from around the world, the guild now has over three hundred members. Defining “realism” as ranging from classical to contemporary, members represent a wide spectrum of styles including, trompe l’Oeil, photorealism, surrealism, and super-realism. Artists working in oils, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, colored pencil, graphite, charcoal, pastel, and egg tempera are eligible for membership. The guild accepts member based on information and images submitted.

Four goals dominate the mission of IGOR:

  • Recognize the best realists artists working today.
  • Create gallery and museum exhibition opportunities.
  • Provide advertising and marketing support
  • Offer a bridge between collectors and high quality realist art.

Their website hosts an impressive sampling of contemporary realists and I hope that you will take a look! I’m sure you will find something to inspire you.

Pet Portrait of a White Cat and the Tradition of Glazing

pet portrait painting of white cat

Shiro
5″ x 5″
oil on aluminum

 

Painting pet portraits is a journey of discovery

Years of training in traditional painting techniques and my past pet portraits form the foundation for each new piece I make. Yet with each portrait I still learn new things. Mixing just the right color still feels like making magic, and finding the precise technique to create a new texture of fur or feathers is an enchanting challenge all its own.

A perfect example is my recent cat portrait of Shiro, a fluffy white fellow with piercing blue eyes. In this case, the key technique to capture the luminosity in those beautiful eyes, as well as the soft sense of fluff, was glazing.

Glazing is a little like magic

Evidence of glazing is found in the earliest examples of painting. The idea is to apply transparent layers of oil paint atop the dried lower layers. I use Gamblin’s Galkyd media for the upper layers of my paintings and when glazing, I increase the medium enough to create transparent layers, which offer a sense of optical depth. This is one reason why painting always look better in person than when reproduced. In reproductions all the colors are flattened out and the transparent layers are lost.

Glazing is typically used in just a few key areas of a painting. The areas of optical depth attract the viewer’s eye more than surrounding areas of opaque paint, so it’s a great way to help direct the eye of the viewer around a composition and create focal points. Gamblin has a list of pigments that are ideal for glazing on their website. I used Phthalo Blue, Phthalo Green, and a touch of Indian Yellow in Shiro’s eyes.

From Dawn:

We absolutely love the picture.  You rendered him so beautifully!  We have a special spot in the house to hang the picture so we can look at it every day and it looks amazing.

Thank you again.  It is such an honor and a treat to have a piece of your art and it is so special that it is of Shiro who we love so much.

Thanks so much for the commission, Dawn!

See more examples of my paintings on the Pet Portraits page and learn about the commission process on the Commissions page.