Seattle Magazine Feature

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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

‘Into the Country,’ a New Monthly Miniatures Series

Sheep painting

 

Miniature Portrait of a Miniature Cheviot Sheep

The Miniature Cheviot Sheep is an old breed of sheep that ranges wild across the hilly interior of Britain. As a lineage preserved distinct from modern, meat-producing breeds (including other Cheviot breeds), they are known for being hardy and wild, and their wool is prized for its warmth and durability due to its crimp. Very few Miniature Cheviot Sheep exist in the Americas, and my mother-in-law Margot keeps them because she values their ability to lamb and thrive unassisted. They are fast and agile, with intact instincts for motherhood and self preservation, and they were difficult to photograph!

Artist with baby sheep

Me and one of Margot’s Easter babies from a couple years ago. They’re softer than you can imagine!

I grew up on twenty acres with all sorts of creatures. When I was still very young, my father was disabled by multiple sclerosis, so my memories of the animals he kept are childlike impressions, images and feelings without stories attached. I don’t remember why we bottle-fed baby goats (my sister does), but I do remember how the goats looked and sounded. Memories of those days are warm and fuzzy in every sense, and they are all bundled up tight with memories of my dad, who also introduced me to art. Now I have a mother-in-law, Margot, with her own farmyard animals, and these animals still bring me a sense of warmth and love and the endless wonders of childhood.

“Into the Country” is my second series of Monthly Miniatures, in which I plan to develop one of several ideas sparked by painting “Paintings of Rabbits” (the first Monthly Miniature series). Each month will feature an animal from Margot’s animal family, in a style inspired by classical Dutch portraiture, with naturally-lit subjects against a dark, simple background to emphasize and personify the subject.

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, miniature oil painting of white rabbit by Rebecca Luncan

Moon Rabbit, oil on aluminum

Following from the painting, 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!

New Monthly Miniature Series, Into the Country

New Model!, Photo by Evan Grim

An eager model (we’ll have our people call your people, Martin)

Next up for the Monthly Miniature 

I have fond memories of the animals my Father kept during my childhood, from bees to pigs to chickens (and yes, rabbits). So when I first met my mother-in-law Margot, I was endeared by her own small farm. Having animals “in the family” now bridges my adult life with my childhood.

This second Monthly Miniature series, called Into the Country, will feature subjects from Margot’s menagerie. Each month will feature a different kind of animal, painted in the style of the classical Dutch portrait, with a simple, dark background to emphasize the subject. Even without picturing their environs or activities, I think you will find these creatures to be very expressive all on their own.

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Moon Rabbit, A Miniature Oil Painting and My Journey from the Studio to a Land of Myths

The Myth of the Moon Rabbit

As I paint the rabbits in this series of Miniatures, I am also researching their historical role in artwork and mythology. I am especially captivated with the many stories that connect the rabbit with the moon. This month, I am paying homage to this cross-cultural body of mythology.

Busy Bunny, An Example of Virtue and Hard Work Across the Globe

Rabbits do like to keep occupied. Mine busy themselves remodeling their cardboard condos. But cultures around the world have had different ideas about what the rabbit in the moon might be up to.

Asia

A Japanese story written during the late Heian period (794-1185) has him pounding mochi for rice cakes (you can find the story in the anthology Konjaku Monogatarishū). In a Chinese story, he is mixing the elixir of life for the moon goddess Chang’e.

The root of those and other Asian myths is the Buddhist story from Jataka tales (Tale 316),
circa 4th century BCE. The tale opens with the deity Brahmā (Hindu god of creation), coming to the Earth in disguise as an old man. When he begs for food, four animals offer to help: a monkey, an otter, a jackal and a rabbit. The monkey brings fruits, the otter fish, the jackal steals a lizard and a milk-curd for him, but the rabbit only has grass to offer. Knowing that the old man can’t eat the grass, he instead offers himself and jumps into the old man’s fire. The deity then reveals himself and quenches the fire before the rabbit is burnt. He is so touched by the virtue and self-sacrifice of the rabbit that he carries him to the heavens, leaving his likeness upon the moon to remind us of his noble example.

South America

From the opposite side of the globe, a similar Aztec myth features the god Quetzalcoatl, who makes a journey on the earth as a man and finds himself unable to find food or water after walking a long way. Just when he thinks death is certain, a nearby rabbit offers herself as food to save his life. Moved by the rabbit’s offer, Quetzalcoatl elevates her to the moon, then lowers her back down. Her shadow remains on the moon for us to remember how a little rabbit touched the heart of a god.

Adventure and Fertility

And other myths connect the rabbit with the moon as well. Native American (Cree) myth describes the rabbit as an adventurer that visits the moon with help of a friendly crane. In Chinese folklore, the rabbit is so prolific that they can conceive with just the touch of moonlight.

My Muse, the White Rabbit

Rather than feature my rabbit in her ‘natural environment’ (i.e. the painting studio), this month Eleanor dashes into a romantic, otherworldly nighttime scene inspired by German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. I am studying his work for a series of portraits, and his dramatic cliffs made a home first in my imagination, and now in this latest miniature.

My Ellie has been fixed so she won’t be doing any reproducing, moonlight or not. I also have my doubts that she’d impress the gods with shows of selfless generosity. Stealing her brothers treats is one of her favorite pastimes. In this painting, though, she is my Moon Rabbit, running wild and free. Who knows how far she can go!

Though the original painting is sold, you can still get greeting cards of all of the rabbit Monthly Miniatures in the series in my Store.

The Business of Art, 2015 Retrospective Part 3 of 3: Selling Artwork

Facebook original painting auction

Facebook painting auction

New ways artists can sell artwork online

Originally, my website was set up like most artist sites. If you were interested in purchasing one of my paintings, you would be instructed to contact me or the gallery that represented me – the end. There was no indication that any specific paintings on my site were available for purchase, much less a purchase button. Doing research into how I wanted my site to look I found some amazing artists and I was tempted to purchase artwork myself, but even I never wanted to contact the artist! It seems obvious, but having a clear price list and detailed process outline for commissions and a purchase button for completed paintings, makes it so much easier for you to even begin to think about bringing one of my paintings into your home. It’s the way I would like to purchase a painting so it makes sense that that’s how I should be selling them.

Making artwork clearly and readily available was the first step. But if no one sees my website, no one knows my paintings are available. It was time to take another step and venture into using social media and marketing to help sell my paintings. With the help of posts from sites like artbusiness.com, I’ve been learning, among other things, better ways to optimize my images and text so that I come up in google searches more often. This has helped me get painting commissions from people that never knew my work before. Also, allowing you to click a purchase button directly from my Newsletter, and putting new works up on Facebook has made a huge impact on my sales. I even ended the year with a successful art auction on Facebook. I’m used to the old gallery situation, where I meet people in person and putting a painting up on for sale Facebook really took me out of my comfort zone. My end goal was not only to sell the painting and raise some money for two well deserved charities, but also to expand my audience.

I love selling paintings. I know that’s a silly statement, but it’s true. Selling paintings means I can work a little less at my day job and still pay the bills. Which in turn means there are less compromises in the studio and I can spend more time making paintings I don’t currently have time for.  Selling paintings also means these paintings are going out into the world to be enjoyed instead of being stored in my studio. I’m thankful that you appreciate what I’m making enough to bring my painting into your home and take such good care them.

Where will 2016 take us?

February is already almost over and I’ve been busy ironing out my plan and trying to take into account a new addition to the family. Even with this addition, I expect much of the same from last year, with a few little steps ahead (and maybe even a few leaps!). I’ll be starting a new Monthly Miniature series in April, plan to finish some larger figurative paintings this year and have room for just a few more commissions in the schedule. I’m also going to try to post as consistently as possible and have two new venues for you to learn more about my paintings – a short video published on Vimeo and my website by Aaron Boruget from a recent studio visit, and an upcoming article about my paintings in the Seattle Magazine in April.

I am taking into consideration that a newborn will likely throw a wrench in the works, so if I fall short on my plans, please forgive me! I promises not to be late with your commissions though.

 

Monthly Miniatures - Rabbit oil paintings by Rebecca Luncan

Part 1 of 3: Planning Paintings

 

Rebecca Luncan Instagram account

Part 2 of 3: Communication

 

 

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.

Snow Rabbit Painting is Open for Bidding!

Snow Rabbit oil painting miniature by Rebecca Luncan

Snow Rabbit – December 2015, oil on aluminum, 3.75″ x 5″

 

December’s Monthly Miniature painting auction is now live!

Half of the proceeds from the sale of this painting will be donated to Special Bunny and Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation. Please visit my Facebook event to bid and to follow the auction over the next week. The auction will close on Sunday, December 13th at 5:00 PM Pacific time.

Thank you for your interest!