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.

Animal Portraits in a Mini Art Exhibit!

animal portrait rabbit art miniature drawing on paper by Rebecca Luncan

Eleanor, pencil on paper, 3.3″ x 5″

The holiday season brings mini artwork!

Come by Ghost Gallery to see hundreds of pieces under 12″ made by artists from around the world. There’s an enormous variety of artwork made using different styles and mediums. Go to their website or to Capital Hill neighborhood in Seattle to see them all in person! I’ve been doing lots of drawings lately and have given them some of these animal portraits to add to the mix.

animal portrait calf art miniature drawing on paper by Rebecca Luncan

Lucy, pencil on paper, 4″ x 4″

Farm Animal Painting Exhibition

Portrait of Silkie chicken, Emperor Vox, oil on aluminum, 8" x 8" by Rebecca Luncan

Admiral Vox, oil on aluminum, 8″ x 8″

A selection of never before exhibited paintings from the Into the Country series are on display at Gallery Frames in Seattle.

This body of work is inspired by memories of the animals my Dad kept during my childhood and from my mother in law’s and sister in law’s herds and flocks (and more). Portraits from the series are painted in a style inspired by the classical Dutch portrait, and continue a mood from the first miniature in my “Paintings of Rabbits” series. The series started with my Into the Country Monthly Miniature project which I was inspired to expand by creating several larger works including the painting above of the silkie rooster. He belonged to my mother in law and my husband and though his real name is Snowman, my husband has been calling him Admiral Vox for months and it stuck. All of the paintings in the series are in the same style, with a similar treatment to the background and how I’m lighting my subject, but each new animal brings their own unique challenges. I’ve loved having the opportunity to be able to focus on so many different kinds of creatures, exploring the different textures and expressions, and doing my best to bring a bit of their personalty to life with a pallet full of paint, some brushes and a loving eye

Rebecca Luncan's Into the Country art opening

Rebecca Luncan’s Into the Country art opening

I always look goofy in photos, but here’s one of me next to my huge painting of my rabbit Charlie.

The paintings will be on display from December 1, 2016 through January 28, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Season’s Greetings!

Season's Greetings Rabbit greeting card

 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

It’s been easy to forget all the good that there is in the world when I’m plugged into the computer, but I’ll spend my Thanksgiving offline, appreciating my little slice of happiness with my family. I wish you all health, wealth and happiness, and as much joy as I felt today, watching my (almost) eight-month-old son take his very first steps!

Now go to the store and order some of my new holiday cards, and send a bunny to someone you love. 🙂

On the Easel in June

Black-cat-in-progress

Black Cat in progress – experimenting with background treatments

Despite my hungry little bundle joy, (i.e. my adorable, two month old son Isaac), June is off to a great start in the studio. Here’s a peak at four little paintings I’m working on right now.

The first of the lot is of Jolly Rajah, the black cat. I actually started this one months ago as an experiment related to the monthly miniature series (I considered a series of black cats). I had considered this little one finished, and originally it featured a window with a tree in the background. But it didn’t seem right to me, and I ended up going with the Into the Country idea instead. After contemplating it for a while, I’m reworking this little guy. I’m trying out a simplified background now, working to define his features a bit more, and also to create a stronger focal point at his lovely eyes.

I love the beautiful little 1920’s brass and celluloid miniature frame I have for it, so I’m hoping to salvage the painting. I’m also hoping that working through this painting, will help me get a better idea of what will work in the fourteen remaining frames I’ve been collecting in this style. Here’s a link to the finished painting!

 

Oliver-in-progress

Commission In Progress

I love painting animals, but I have to admit to a special soft spot for dogs

This little guy is my top priority in the studio right now. He’s the first of my June Miniature Pet Portrait Specialand will be completed in time for a special occasion. I have added a couple coats of paint since taking this photo, and I plan to have it finished by the end of the week so it can be shipped out to its new home right away. 

 

miniature rabbit paintings in progress

Rabbit Couple in progress

Rabbits for a group show in October at Childhood’s End Gallery

I told you there would be more rabbits! It’ll be hard to separate these two paintings, and I’m considering selling them as a pair. Once they’re finished, they’ll go in a lovely pair of matching antique frames I’ve been saving for just the right couple. I’m planning on three or four more rabbit portraits and will be on the lookout for new models! Contact me if you have a willing bunny!

Seattle Magazine Feature

seattlemag-weba copy

Check out the April edition of Seattle Magazine!

I am pleased to be featured in the April edition of Seattle Magazine.

When I sent my husband out to grab a couple extra copies, he sifted through the contents page but couldn’t find any mention of Rebecca Luncan or any Monthly Miniatures. Then he noticed the in-progress photo he had taken, very large and high on the page where he expected just a line of text!

Thanks to Haley Durslag for her very kind words about my Monthly Miniatures, and for plugging my other artwork and commissions, too! I so appreciate all the support for the Paintings of Rabbits series of Monthly Miniatures, and I hope the new series gets just as much love (or even more)! <3

Rabbits in retrospect, looking back from the final Monthly Miniature painting

Rabbit Painting

A Forest Still Life, after Matthias Withoos, March, 2016, oil on aluminum, 4.25″ x 3.25″

With the first year of Monthly Miniatures finished, I have more to paint than when I started

I often begin a series of paintings with a plan in mind, so although painting itself an act of exploration, I know roughly where I am going, so to speak. My Monthly Miniatures turned that process on its head, since when I began, I did not have a plan so much as a commitment: to make one miniature painting each month, for a year. It was only in the second month that I even decided to focus on rabbits.

Having so much freedom was hard at first, but trellised by limited structure, ideas continued to emerge and branch as I worked through the series. I began to realize that I could push my ideas further by taking my rabbits out of the studio and into new and imagined places, which in turn can creative narrative, or even pay homage to an artist or tradition I admire.

Now at the end of Monthly Miniatures: Rabbits, I have a few themes I am eager to develop in future work, and it feels great. Although the work makes no strong statement as a series, it became surprisingly meaningful for me, all by approaching the work more as a notebook or conversation than as an essay or a speech.

Charlie stands in for a 17th-century mushroom

Moon Rabbit, oil painting by Rebecca Luncan

Moon Rabbit – October 2015

Following from the October Monthly Miniature, Moon Rabbit, I’ve placed Charlie in a romantic setting from a work of art I enjoy (“A forest floor still life with a frog and mushroom, mountains beyond”). As you can see, there is no mushroom but a rabbit instead.

The last of my first Monthly Miniature series pays homage to the 17th Century Dutch painter Matthias Withoos. I love Withoos for his naturalistic paintings, full of botanical specimens and insects and animals of all sorts. Withoos trained all seven of his children how to paint – even his daughters. It was expensive to give your children an education in the arts in the 1600’s and if you were lucky enough to be a woman trained in the field, you often worked in your fathers or husbands studio and your work was attributed to them. One of Matthias’s daughters Alida, however, is one of the rare women artist who had success creating artwork under her own name. Part of her success was likely from the fact that one of her biggest patrons, Agnes Block, was also a woman.

What’s next for Rabbits and Monthly Miniatures?

My studio walls are still covered in rabbity mockups and drawings. Although my commission schedule will keep me busy, do expect to see more and larger rabbit paintings and drawings the next year or two. As to the Monthly Miniatures, next week I will announce the new theme that will encompass the next 9 months and finish out 2016. Check back for details!

Visit Rebecca in the Studio!

Seattle independent filmmaker Aaron Bourget has edited a video from a recent visit to the painting studio.

It’s difficult to be in front of a camera (especially when 6 months pregnant!) and Aaron really helped make me feel more comfortable. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into what’s hanging in the studio, and what I’m working on!

Thank you Aaron!

The Business of Art, 2015 Retrospective Part 1 of 3: Planning Paintings

 

Monthly Miniatures - Rabbit oil paintings by Rebecca Luncan

Monthly Miniatures – Rabbits

Planning and promoting artwork: strategies that helped me focus and make decisions in 2015

In 2015 I made a big push to get my art out into the world, and my approach to both making and selling art is more structured than ever before. In the studio, I have been planning and tracking what I’m working on more than ever before. As for selling, I began to promote my art across several channels, all new in 2015: this blog, a newsletter, Instagram, Facebook, and several non-digital efforts.

In this three-part series, I’d like to talk about how these strategies have worked throughout the year, and how they all relate to help my achieve my artistic goal: make good paintings and make a living doing what I love. 

Scheduling, deadlines, and staying motivated

In January 2015, I blocked out the entire year, month by month, to establish deadlines for each painting I wanted to finish. During the long process of completing a painting, it is easy to get sidetracked thinking about the next project. But I always love starting something new, and having a schedule in place helps me turn my excitement into motivation. So instead of being distracted by what’s next, I can really focus on finishing what’s in front of me. When I can stay motivated to finish my current work and be excited to start the next piece, then I can make a lot of art!

At the same time, I publish a newsletter each month. Since my newsletter is specifically about the work I’ve made in that month (and secondarily about blog posts I’ve written), I can’t write a newsletter without finishing the painting I’ve planned. Because people expect their newsletter each month, social expectations also help stay accountable and motivated to keep up with my schedule.

Rabbits! A strategy for audience engagement

It takes a tremendous amount of time to put together an art show, thousands of hours over the course of several months or even years. And between shows, people forget your name! I really wanted people to see my work on a more regular basis and I needed some regular structured deadlines, so I started my first Monthly Miniature series. I love miniature paintings, and the idea was to make smaller works more often, so I could share them on my newsletter and social media.

My first Monthly Miniature was my studio rabbit Eleanor, but I had not planned to keep painting rabbits. I soon realized there was a real advantage in sticking to one particular theme. A focused theme for the series help me push myself to developed the series in a deeper way and it also makes it easier for you to look at my work as a whole and understand where I’m coming from. When I showed my (often already sold) painting to people and they were interested, I could refer them to the Newsletter, where they would see next month’s rabbit miniature before anyone else.

Featuring the same subject each month also helped me connect with my audience over time. People actually got to know my rabbits and care about them. I keep in touch with my core audience via my newsletter, where I like to share a little bit about what goes on around the studio. I talk briefly about my life, show off my recent work, and always share a little bit about the rabbits. I love it when people respond to the newsletter and we can start a conversation. If I painted and talked about something different each month, people could not connect the same way with my work.

The layers of my art-making cake

Each rabbit miniature takes a little over a week of my art-making schedule. I love painting Charlie and Ellie, and because of the nature of the series and the way I’ve planned them, they’re getting the most public attention right now, especially in my newsletter. I do however, spend more of my painting time keeping up with commission orders, which typically take three weeks or more and working little by little on the larger figurative paintings that help me explore and develop my art.

It helps to have clear priorities for when my schedule becomes tight (and it’s always tight!). I try to start my commissions early so I have a good idea of how long they will take me (every painting is a new challenge). The firmest deadlines come first, so finishing commissions on time is top priority, followed publication deadlines: Monthly Miniatures, blog and newsletter articles. Finally when I have time left over, my original figurative works get some attention.

Leaving time for reflection, and recording progress

Looking back it’s clear, if it doesn’t have a deadline, it doesn’t get done around here, so planning ahead is pretty important. But it’s not possible to plan perfectly, so some flexibility is necessary. It can be tough to be flexible without losing respect for deadlines. It helps to actually set aside time to think about what’s working and what’s not, to recognize that the deadlines are important, but what ultimately matters is the greater goal. It is important to set aside time to reflect and formally revise plans.

To reflect effectively about what happened, it really helps to know what did happen. That is why I record my time for everything I work on. I might go into detail on that in the future, but basically I write down the hours I work on each given project. It is hard to understand why that is important without actually doing it, but not only does it give me information about what I have done, it helps teach me how to better plan in the future. Without that experience, it would be impossible for me to know, for instance, whether I can finish a last-minute commission by Christmas (when it’s already October).

My reflections on 2015’s art-making plans

2015 was a great year, and I met a lot of goals. I did a lot of painting, including several great commissions, and expanded my audience. I finished every painting that I built into my original timeline, and I even finished a few small experimental paintings. But the larger figurative paintings that I feel are so important to my work and my career, because they were not scheduled with a firm deadline, always got put off so that during 2015, I finished exactly one!

2016 will be a very busy year for me. I have another series of Monthly Miniatures planned, as well as an almost-full schedule of commissions. But it is really critical that I finish some of the larger figurative works left on the back-burner from last year, because in art it is very important to get recognition: articles, awards, and shows or representation. The majority of my work could not be shown last year: both commissions and Monthly Miniatures get sent off to their owners as soon as they are done and photographed.

Having built up a modest audience this year, it is time to work towards some shows and awards. This year two new strategies will help me do that. First, I will collect the new Monthly Miniatures and show them all together, before sending them to their owners. And since I find it is critical to set deadlines for those larger works, I built larger gaps into my commission schedule this year and bookended them with deadlines for large figurative paintings!

 

Rebecca Luncan Instagram account

Part 2 of 3: Communication

Facebook original painting auction

Part 3 of 3: Selling Artwork

 

Charlie Poses as Peter Rabbit for January’s Monthly Miniature Painting

rabbit oil painting peter

Charlie as Peter Rabbit – January 2016, oil on aluminum, 4″ x 5″

Charlie posing on a garden path one sunny day last spring reminded me of the story of Peter Rabbit.

 

Rabbits are very curious creatures, and exploring (and getting into trouble) is just part of being a rabbit. I listened to an audiobook of Peter Rabbit to inspire me when I started the series and Charlie must have been listening too to strike such a pose after knocking over the watering can.