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April Bouquet Miniature Floral Painting

Spring has officially sprung and i hope that my newest Monthly Miniature floral painting reflects that. You may have noticed that my first four paintings in this series all have a slightly different feel (see them all on the Monthly Miniature page). Part of the change is the increase in plants and insects awakening to populate each months painting, and for April, I wanted to pack the painting full of new lush blooms. I have included seven types of plants (some in different colors), three insects and the nest of a Dark-Eyed Junco that my husband found in our yard. You can find a complete list at the end of this post.

In addition to changing the subjects in my paintings, I’m also changing how they are composed. For each of my twelve miniatures this year, I’m studying a different master of still life paintings from Northern Europe (1600-1800). I’ve long admired paintings from this era and this series is giving me the opportunity to luxuriate in the detailed little worlds created by so many different artists. See the inspiration behind all of the “In Season” miniatures in previous posts.

Abundance of blooms: Gerard Van Spaendonck

Flower still Life, oil on canvas, 22.5″ x 16″

Gerard Van Spaendonck (1746 – 1822) was an influential Dutch painter, who settled in Paris early in his career. He is known for his fabulously dense oil paintings filled with a wide assortment of flowers and a variety of other living creatures. Gerard was a master at creating an explosion of color and texture.

I’m generally drawn to simple compositions, but I wanted to go in a different direction with this painting and he was the perfect muse. I’ve been excited to change the subjects of each Miniature and highlight what is currently in season. It’s been an interesting challenge to also think of creating a mood that is reflecting the sparsity or abundance of things available as well. I have each month sketched out for the rest of the year already!

I carefully choose each of my blooms, but heavily referenced his composition from the painting, “Flower Still Life”. My plants came from a variety of places; some I found online, others were purchased, and some I picked from my garden which is starting to explode! The Seattle Growers Market is a great resource, with public hours on Fridays, 10 am – noon. I took photos and mixed everything together on the computer for the composition (Pixelmator for Mac). I posed as much as I could in a Frankenstein taped up heap to reference from life but used my digital mock up as a primary reference for plants. The birds nest with egg and caterpillar were painted solely from life (my three year old son got caterpillars for his birthday!)

What’s in my painting?

Birds and Insects:

Bumblebee
Housefly
Painted Lady Caterpillar
Dark-Eyed Oregon Junco nest and egg

Plants:

Anemones – white and yellow
Euphoria
Grape Hyacinths
Kale

Ranunculus – red, white and pink
Salal (leaves)
Tulips – rainbow parrot, flaming white parrot,  Absalom, mint green parrots

 

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A Muse for Spring

The inspiration for my March Monthly Miniature is artist, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (18 January 1573 – 1621) who was a still life painter of the Dutch Golden Age. He was among the founders of the tradition, the height of which dates to around 1600-1800. I’ve long admired paintings from this era and this series is giving me the opportunity to luxuriate the detailed little worlds created by so many different artists. Each of my twelve paintings will pay tribute to a different artist form this era and Ambrosius Bosschaert is definately one of my favorites. I’m drawn to his symmetrical and simple compositions and tried to compose my daffodil painting with some of the grace and elegance he so carefully crafts into each small painting. Go to my Monthly Miniatures gallery to see all of the paintings in this series. Learn more about this painting in my previous post.

Oil on Copper

Ambrosius Bosschaert is also a fellow painter on copper. If you look at the image below, you’ll notice that this three hundred year old painting is free of cracks or paint loss. Aside form the luminous and smooth surface, meal is an ideal painting surface because it is such a stable surface. It doesn’t tear or suffer from expanding or contracting with humidity like canvas or wood.

Ambrosius Bosschaert (1573–1621), Still Life with Bouquet of Tulips, a Rose, Clover, and Cyclamen in a Green Glass Bottle, oil on copper

Ambrosius Bosschaert (1573–1621), Still Life with Bouquet of Tulips, a Rose, Clover, and Cyclamen in a Green Glass Bottle, oil on copper

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Finding inspiration in art history: Adriaen Coorte

For latest painting in my series of Monthly MIniature’s I painted a bowl of brussels sprouts inspired by the works by Adriaen Coorte (ca. 1665 – after 1707).

With each of these paintings, I learn more about the Northern European still life tradition and I was drawn to the simplicity of Adriaen Coorte’s compositions. Because of my classical art training and experience of working at an art museum, I can usually identify the artist or at least the era in which a painting was made. Adriaen Coorte’s paintings are easily identifiable in the genre of Dutch Still Lifes because his paintings are unusually unpretentious. Many painting from the era have extravagant compositions, featuring priceless (at the time) tulips with a riot of color. By contrast, his painting are quiet and incredibly tender.

His painting of a bowl full of strawberries became the inspiration for my painting of brussels sprouts. I chose a bowl from the collection of the Seattle Art Museum, where I work part time, and picked brussels sprouts from my garden (just about the only thing in the garden in February!).

Learn more about my painting, “Brussels Sprouts and Porcelain Bowl” in an earlier blog post and see all of the paintings in the series on the Monthly Miniature gallery page. You can also sign up for my newsletter to see each painting right when they are finished and get the first opportunity to purchase, a day before it goes public on the web site.

Adriaen Coorte, Wild Strawberries in a Wan Li Bowl, Oil on paper, mounted on wood, 11 5/8 x 8 7/8

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Influences Abound: Jacob Marrel Floral Paintings

The paintings in my new Monthly Miniature series “In Season“, are inspired by still life paintings from Northern Europe that were at their prime from around 1600 – 1800. Each painting is influenced by a different artist from within the genre. My first painting in the series is inspired by the German artist Jacob Marrel. He primary made floral paintings and you can almost always find an insect somewhere in his work. He studied still life painting in Utrecht under Jan Davidsz. de Heem who is a major representative of that genre in both Dutch and Flemish Baroque painting. Later Jacob taught painting to his own students including his stepdaughter, Maria Sibylla Merian, who became a scientific illustrator and one of the premier entomologist (scientist who studies insects) of her time.

Paintings from this genre can get quite complicated both in composition and in subject matter. Marrel could compose an intricate composition to rival the best of them, but I was drawn his paintings with only insects and flowers. This fit the mood I was wanting for my first painting in the series. Since this series will only feature produce, flowers and insects that are in season, I wanted to start simply to demonstrate how sparse it is in winter. Look carefully at Joseph Marrel’s painting below and you will find my simplified take on his composition.

Please visit an earlier blog post for an introduction to this series. You can also find previous Monthly Miniature series by scrolling down on the Monthly Miniature page.

Jacob Marrel artist known for floral paintings, "Still Life With A Yellow Iris, A Parrot Tulip, A White Rose And Insects On A Wooden Table Ledge" oil on Canvas.

Jacob Marrel, “Still Life With A Yellow Iris, A Parrot Tulip, A White Rose And Insects”, oil on Canvas.

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Travels with My Uncle

The family traveled with me to Barcelona for my recent exhibit “13th annual ARC Salon” at the Museu Europeu d’Art Modern (MEAM) and my Uncle Bill joined us from Ohio. My uncle bought me my very first canvas when I was in high school and was instrumental in my artistic pursuits. He took me to galleries and museums and his own collection of original art was such an inspiration for me. It means so much that still, so many years later, here he is standing by me believing in what I do. It was also great to have him with us to see the sights, meet new people and for my son to get to visit with his great uncle. My sons middle name is William, named after my Uncle Bill.

Learn more about the exhibit on my blog and see more paintings from the series, “Monthly Miniature: Into the Country” and “Into the Country (larger works)

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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!

 

Octagonal Frame for a Miniature Family Portrait Painting

Family portrait painting in miniature, oil on aluminum by Rebecca Luncan

Family Portrait of Heather, Courtney and Olivia, oil on aluminum, 6″ x 4.75″

Inspired by a 17th century artwork through 21st century social media

I’m always on the lookout for new ideas not only for what I’m painting, but also for framing. When Richard Christie, picture framer of the Cotswolds in the UK, posted an image of a painting on Instagram, I gasped aloud. I had been debating how to frame the miniature family portrait painting above and I instantly knew this was “The One!”. My delight was due to a beautiful frame worthy of a truly spectacular little painting (pictured below) of “A Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle”. Painted by Hendrick Avercamp over four hundred years ago, it’s the inspiration for the frame I made for the commission, “Family Portrait of Heather, Courtney and Olivia”.

antique_frames Instagram post, A Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle. By Hendrick Avercamp about 1608. Seen in the National Gallery. #antiqueframe

Posted by: antique_frames, A Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle. By Hendrick Avercamp about 1608. Seen in the National Gallery.

Bringing out the details with subtle framing

Dutch style frames are a particular favorite of mine because I find that they lend a formality without adding distraction. The dark, wide and simple profile brings my eye into the details of the image and helps keep it there. I’m also happy to find that the geometric shape of the frame draws my eye around the arms and hands of the loving family encircling one another.

 

Detail of hands, Family portrait painting in miniature, oil on aluminum by Rebecca Luncan

Detail of hands, oil on aluminum

Instagram for inspiration

I have a wide array of interests and they are all covered on Instagram. Among the folks I follow, there are visual artists, picture framers, musicians, weavers, farmers, and family members. You never know how or when inspiration will hit and it’s always fun to take a break and see what people are up to. If you’re on Instagram I hope you’ll check out my account!

Memorial Portrait: An Unexpected Loss

The White Rabbit, Oil painting miniature by Rebecca Luncan

The White Rabbit – September 2016, oil on copper, 4″ x 4″

A Memorial Portrait: The passing of Ellie

My Ellie passed away quite suddenly this past month. The vet saw her for an eye irritation but found nothing too concerning, just a tiny scratch on her eye. But Ellie died the very next evening. We don’t know why she died so suddenly, but we miss her.

It’s a sad thing, but having so many animals in childhood helped teach me to be thankful, that death doesn’t diminish the gifts of life. Ellie was a sweet friend to her brother Charlie, and I’ll miss her hopping around the house, and snuggling at my feet while I paint. She was a great muse, and it comforts me that I was painting her portrait when she passed for the Monthly Miniature – Into the Country series.

We kept one early painting of Ellie for ourselves, and I’m glad we did. A portrait has a freshness and a life of its own that makes the subject feel close, that keeps them alive and well in our hearts. 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. Because it’s a totally unique object, we give it meaning.

Please enjoy the newest painting of Ellie and join me in remembering her fondly. You can find more paintings of her in the Monthly Miniature – Rabbit’s series.

Rest in peace little Ellie! You will be very missed.

New Frames, New Challenges: Portrait of a Black Cat

Portrait of a Black Cat, oil on aluminum, 1.5" x 1" (unframed), by Rebecca Luncan

Portrait of a Black Cat, oil on aluminum, 1.5″ x 1″ (unframed)

The perfect frame for your picture? Or the perfect picture for your frame?

During my art school days I worked as a picture framer, which taught me a lot about how to present my own artwork. At that time, I actually framed very few of my paintings in traditional frames, but explored many nontraditional methods to hang and frame my artwork.

Miniature portrait painting by Rebecca Luncan

Miniature portrait painting by Rebecca Luncan

Miniature frames are always hard to come by, and “found objects” became my best friends. I used a wide variety of everyday objects as frames, like the large sanding wheel pictured here, and the frames began to inform the content and character of my paintings. I used a conduit box to hold a double-sided painting that rotated within its frame to reveal one face at a time, and that spawned a whole series of “turn paintings,” and other sculptural paintings, all inspired by the use of a found object as frames.

Now years later, I’m totally in love with traditional picture frames. Having learned how nontraditional frames can shape the painting itself (and be an essential part of the artwork), I can now appreciate the dialog between a traditional painting and its frame. Beautifully hand-finished wooden frames, or brushed or polished metal frames attract my eye and fascinate me nearly as much as the paintings within. I find that antique frames are the best of both worlds, combining the elegance of a traditional frame with the thrill of finding a unique object that shapes the painting it frames.

Sometimes making a match between a painting and its frame works right off the bat, and other times it takes trial and error. I happily framed all of my Rabbit Monthly Miniature paintings in little antique frames, handpicking each frame and cutting metal to fit it (I paint mostly on copper and aluminum) before ever dipping my brush in paint.

But when I became enamored with 1920’s celluloid and bone frames, often used to frame miniature portraits, I ordered about a dozen of them but had a hard time getting my first celluloid-framed painting to look right. The frame itself demands a lot of attention, and I found that although I was reasonably happy with the painting itself, it did not look right when paired with the frame. After months of thinking how I could make it work, I finally removed the painting from its frame to apply a few experimental coats of paint. I simplified the background, limited the pallet, and added highlights to the cat’s face (below) to make it a stronger focal point. I also got rid of the glass, which made it tougher to see the details in the black cat’s fur.

The lines radiating through the celluloid demand a strong focal point in the painting; the cat’s eye color echoes the background like the cat’s body echoes the frame. I’m much happier with the final painting—it even looks bigger to than the original—but I never would have arrived at this solution without having the frame to inform it. Click to see an in progress image in between the two stages.

 

Portrait of a Black Cat, First and final versions, oil on aluminum framed in an antique celluloid and brass frame, 1.5" x 1" (unframed)

Portrait of a Black Cat, First and final versions, oil on aluminum framed in an antique celluloid and brass frame, 1.5″ x 1″ (unframed).

 

This painting will be on view at Childhood’s End Gallery for their anniversary Small Works exhibition this October. If you’re in Olympia please come take a peek! They have a fantastic Arts Walk that happens only twice a year. Check back for more details.

 

 

Woman’s Best Friend, A Painting of a Dog

pet portrait dog, oil on copper, 4" x 4"

Woman’s Best Friend – June 2016, oil on copper, 4″ x 4″

I have to admit a soft spot for dogs, and I love working to capture these special creatures’ personalities in my portraits.

For my Miniature painting of the month, my mother in law’s best friend Penny posed for me, as many of her barnyard friends have done before her. All my life, a dog has been part of my household and the series wouldn’t be complete without one.

Though dogs are often working members of a farm, Penny is about as useless as my Cavilear King Charles Spaniel as a herd dog. Penny decided sheep were best suited for dinner right around her second birthday. My Mona would never try to kill a sheep, but she certainly wouldn’t dream of herding one either. In fact, when I let my rabbits out into the back yard, my cat would help herd them in. Yes, you read correctly. She was amazing and would chase them into the house. My dog would usually sit in the doorway, blocking their entrance. As useless as working animals as they can be, they are unparalleled in the animal kingdom for their loyalty and companionship and are a must for any house in the country (and the city!).