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Lucy Reclining, getting the perfect images for a cat portrait painting

Most of my pet portrait commissions are made by referencing photos provided by my clients. I like to get a big range of images, not only to reference the painting, but also to get a sense of my subjects personality. Cats are notoriously difficult to photograph but getting the perfect images for a cat portrait painting is easier if you follow a few tips and have lots of patience. From these images, I pick the ones that inspire me the most and do a couple of mock-ups for the client to pick from. 

I have pulled some of the images from a recent commission of Lucy to help you get an idea of how to take photographs. Take a look at my tips below and if you have any questions about commissioning a portrait, feel free to contact me. 

1. Get on your cats level

Images for a cat portraitPhotographing your cat from a their eye level tends to make the image feel more intimate and it shows your cat without distortion. Cat’s do like to climb so you don’t always have to get down on the ground to achieve this.

 

 

 

 

2.Natural Light

Images for a cat portraitNatural light is ideal and its best if the day is slightly overcast. Cats are usually indoor creatures, but steering them towards a window will achieve the desired effect. Not only does natural overcast light help avoid harsh shadows, it gives me a more accurate representation of color for the fur and eyes. Try to pose them so that they get the light to twinkle in their eyes for a lifelike appearance.

 

 

3. Hi Resolution / Fill the Frame

Images for a cat portraitHi resolution images are a must but if most of the picture is just background, I’m not going to get any detail (unless the landscape will be a part of the painting!). Never compress images before sending them and fill the frame with your cat as much as possible for the most detail. Getting the correct texture of your cats fur and the subtle color changes in the eyes is impossible if the image is blurry. Filling the frame with your cat gives me all of the details that are so fun to paint and to look at. Use the zoom feature on your camera to help you get close without attracting too much attention.

 

4. Take and send lots of images!

Primary reference image for composition

You can not send to many images for a cat portrait! Molly sent me dozens and it helped me get a sense of Lucy’s personality and get a feel for all of her different expressions. It also gave me flexibility in designing the composition that we chose for the painting. The primary reference image that inspired my portrait of “Reclining Lucy” didn’t fit any of the above suggestions. The client and I both loved how the pose and expression captured her so perfectly though. And since Molly sent me so many great images I was able to reference other images for accurate colors and fine details.

 

 

5. Help!

If you’re having trouble, getting someone to distract them helps you focus on photographing. Toys and treats can also be useful to get them to go and look where you want.

What a Mock-up looks like

Images for a cat portraitMy mock-up’s are constructed digitally and they help give a sense of what the painting will look like. This mock-up was submitted with the note that the color and fine details would be taken form another image (the one used to demonstrate “natural light” above).

For more information about commission, please visit the commissions page

 

 

 

From Molly:

We got the box today!  OMG, I absolutely love Lucy

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Artist Choice Award

As customary during their annual juried exhibitions, the International Guild of Realism (IGOR) asks the gallery hosting the exhibition to appoint a guest judge(s) to award ribbons in different categories for outstanding artwork. I’m happy to share that I was awarded the Artist Choice Award for my portrait of my sister in law, painted with oils on aluminum, “Arlington”.

Congratulations to the Winners!

Best of Show – Ed Copley “When the Sun Rises”
American Art Collector Editor Choice – Ed Copley “The Torn Hat”
Bill & Sue Rowett Collector’s Choice – Lee Alban “May the Warm Winds of Heaven Blow Softly upon your House”
Robert Kirkpatrick Best Still Life – Sandra Robinson “Monkeys”
Best Figurative – Duffy Sheridan “The Whale Watcher”
Best Landscape – Lee Alban “May the Warm Winds of Heaven Blow Softly upon your House”
Best Tromp l’Oeil – Jorge Alberto “Allegory of the Arts”
Director’s Choice – Sandra Kuck “My Dear Angus”
Pioneer in Realism Award – David M. Bowers “Animal Instinct”
Creative Achievement – Marissa Oosterlee “The Forever Search”
Artist’s Choice Award – Rebecca Luncan “Arlington”
Best Floral – Jane Jones “Three Graces”
Best Wildlife – Camille Engel “Patient Observer”
Best Drawing – Heather Ward “That was You?”

Take a look at the whole exhibition online on the Sugarman-Peterson Gallery’s website.

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Realism Exhibition in Santa Fe

If you’re in Santa Fe this coming weekend, please stop by Sugarman-Peterson Gallery to see my painting, “Arlington” oil on aluminum, 24″ x 36″. The gallery is hosting the 14th International Guild of Realism exhibition, which will feature a blend of contemporary and classical realism. Stop by the gallery anytime from October 5 to October 29 to see some amazing work from 91 different artists. The reception is this Friday, October 5th from 5:30 to 7:30pm. View the whole show on the gallery’s website.

About IGOR

The International Guild of Realism, also known as IGOR, was founded by a group of renowned realist artists in 2002. They now represent the work of over 390 members from over 35 countries. The Guild’s mission is to advance realism in fine art. They do this through organizing museum exhibitions, art gallery shows, workshops and education programs, marketing support, and internet exposure.

It’s inspiring to be a member of guild filled with so many talented artists. I exhibited two paintings in the 13th International Guild of Realism exhibition last year in Carmel.

Please go to my figurative painting gallery to see more paintings in this series. If you’re interested in purchasing this painting, please contact the Sugarman-Peterson Gallery.

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Painting of Silkie Chicken in the ARC Salon Traveling Exhibition

First stop: New York City!

My portrait painting of the silkie chicken, Admiral Vox, will be included in the upcoming 13th International ARC Salon Exhibition. The exhibit consists of 89 Contemporary Realist works selected from over 3,750 entries from 69 countries. It is the most prestigious realist art competition in the Americas and perhaps the world.

New York, LA, & Barcelona: three stops over the next six months

The ARC Salon Exhibition will be on view at the Salmagundi Club, 47 Fifth Ave., New York, NY from September 21st—October 2nd, 2018. The public opening event on Saturday, September 22nd from 11am to 3pm. Entry is free. The exhibition will then travel to Sotheby’s, Los Angeles where it will be on view from December 4th—December 13th, 2018 with the opening reception on December 4th from 6pm to 8pm. The show will then travel to the MEAM Museum, Barcelona, Spain from February 8th—March 31st, 2019, with the opening event and award ceremony starting at 7pm on February 8th. To learn more, go to the ARC Salon website

The ideas behind the painting of Admiral Vox

My early memories are few but vivid, with joy and sorrow in equal measure. When I was small, I discovered the aftermath of a weasel attack in the hen house. Yet I also remember the sole survivor, a newly hatched chick who followed me everywhere. As my father succumbed to Multiple Sclerosis, the rest of us took more responsibility for the animals, and I reveled in it.

Now I paint animals, revisiting memories of my dad and the wonder of growing up on a small farm. I compose portraits of animals the same as I do portraits of people, seeking not only likeness but the beauty particular to them.

Admiral Vox is one of my mother-in-law’s flock. Despite his stern expression, he is gentle with people. Here he guards his hens in the dim of his coop, which has been lighted to personify the rooster without embellishment in a classic and dignified pose.

View more paintings in this series

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A special way of giving, and a very special portrait of Lucy the cat

Lucy is special one. People would see this cat pet portrait painting on the easel and just fall in love.

cat pet portrait painting  oil painting miniature by Rebecca Luncan

Portrait of Lucy
5.25″ x 3.75″
oil on aluminum

But this portrait commission started off a little differently than usual. Lucy was commissioned as a graduation gift from mother to daughter. Instead of opening a box and finding a painting, Taylor opened an envelope and found a gift voucher for a custom portrait of her Lucy.

Most paintings don’t start this way, I think because people like to present a finished painting for a gift but part of the fun of commissioning a custom portrait is dreaming up ideas, then looking through the mock-up proposals and seeing the painting develop. We looked through images together in my studio, figuring out both the composition and the perfect antique frame for the painting. Taylor had a strong instinct for which elements really said “Lucy,” and when the design was finalized we were all excited to see it take shape!

I am so happy with how Lucy turned out, please continue reading Taylor and Drindi’s testimonials below and see my gallery of portraits on the Pet Portraits page.

From Drindy:

Oh my goodness. You did such a great job capturing her. So exciting. I admire your commitment to your passion and you are so good at it. So I hope your art work continues to be a priority for you – certainly brings so much joy and beauty to our world.

From Taylor:

I have said this to my mom several times now, but wanted to officially say to you how much I absolutely love and adore my painting of Lucy.  It gives me so much joy and captures her spirit and personality so perfectly.  It’s truly one of those few things I would save in a fire (hopefully that’s never the case) but you get the gist – I will treasure it forever.

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Painting cows: Going afield for inspiration, and preparing for an exhibition

The Nashville area has become a special place for me. Two of my sisters and my adorable nephew and niece are there, so it’s become a go-to spots for family travel. And just outside Nashville, I have discovered the wondrous Holly Belle on Instagram. Even if you didn’t grow up with a dad that brought home a baby cow in the back of the station wagon (true story!), Holly’s “puppy cow” jumping around in the dining room of her house is sure to make you happy. Her mini cows have inspired my paintings and drawings in the recent past, and I have three paintings of cows started, shown above in various states of completion.

Please visit my Into the Country series to see more paintings of animals.

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A Happy Father’s Day Pet Portrait of Man’s Best Friend

Black Lab’s are the quintessential family dog and a pet portrait of man’s best friend makes the perfect Father’s day gift. Black Lab’s are full of energy and aren’t really suited for apartment living, but few breeds can outmatch their friendly personalities. Such sweet personalities makes them very easy to love back.

Sally commissioned me to paint Pi (short for Pirate) as a gift for her husband for Fathers Day. She sent me lost of great photos, which gave me an insight to how lucky Pi is. Dogs love with such a wholehearted passion and it was clear that Pi is loved back just as much.

Pet Portrait of Man's Best Friend Black lab miniature oil paining by Rebecca Luncan

Portrait of Pi
oil on aluminum
5″ x 5″

We choose a solid wood frame manufactured by a company in Canada, Inline Ovals. Learn more about my commission process on my commission page and see more examples of pet portraits in the pet portraits gallery.

From Sally:

…it is SO amazing. It’s my favorite piece of art in the whole house:)

Anders was surprised and he loves it too. I def scored points. Thank you SO much!!!

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Oil and Water Do Mix! A Pet Portrait Oil Painting of a Water Dog

Sarah and her aunt commissioned me to make this pet portrait of Ruby as a gift for Sarah’s parents. Sara is my husband’s best friend, she was the “best man” in our wedding, and I absolutely adore her. I never got to meet Ruby but I’ve heard lots of stories about her. Though it’s been years since she passed, she is still missed by those that knew her. I put a lot of care into each painting I make, but knowing the family personally, knowing firsthand how much Ruby was loved, really reinforces my mission of creating these paintings with a sensitivity to the bond between people and their animal friends. You can see the love that Ruby gave back to her family in her happy smiling face. I hope the painting brings them all much joy. Please take a look at my Pet portraits gallery to see more examples of my work.

A Painting More True to Life than a Photograph

This painting evokes Ruby’s puppy-like zeal the way only an original painting can. Since it’s painstakingly created layer by layer, I’m able to pay careful attention to all the details that make Ruby “Ruby”. Sometimes these details even get missed by the camera. The main image I used for the portrait showed Ruby’s eyes to be dark brown. But in the other images, and in everyone’s memory, her eyes had a golden glow, which I worked to capture. Though I can sometimes get all of the information I need with just one image, working with several and getting lots of feedback is important to my process.

I had the added honor of witnessing the happy couple unwrap Ruby’s portrait. People often write that seeing their portrait for the first time brought tears to their eyes, but seeing them both burst into happy tears was a special moment for me. See them below in a photo taken by Sarah, with the framed portrait of Ruby.

couple posing with their commissioned pet portrait, a gift from their daughter, painted by Rebecca Luncan

From the Family

You are a very talented artist and you captured the heart and spirit of our wonderful four-legged sweetheart, Ruby. We really love the painting. Thanks again, very much.

Doug, Gloria & Sarah

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ARC Salon Winner!!

I am thrilled to announce that my painting, “Admiral Vox” has been chosen for both a Gallery Award and as Honorable Mention in the 13th International ARC Salon.

Gallery Award – Arcadia Contemporary

I’m excited to be chosen as one of the artists for a Gallery Award by Arcadia Contemporary. Rehs Contemporary Galleries, Inc., New York City, and Arcadia Contemporary, Los Angeles, will both be having an exhibition for selected winning artists in 2018 or early 2019. Each gallery selected a group of finalists who supplied the gallery with additional images to help them make their decisions. From those finalists, the galleries have each chosen artists for a group exhibition and sale. Each artist who participates will be completing a series of new works specifically for these shows. Keep an eye out for the exhibition dates on the blog, or sign up for my Newsletter to get monthly updates on my Monthly Miniatures and exhibitions.

Honorable Mention

Click the link to see all of the finalists and winners of the Animal Category in the 13th International ARC Salon. It’s an honor to be included in this group! This category includes all animal art; any paintings, sculptures or drawings where an animal or animals are the central focus of the work.

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Finalist for the 13th Annual ARC Salon Competition

My painting, “Admiral Vox” is a finalist for the ARC Salon Competition!

I’ve always been passionate about realism and it’s inspiring to see the genre in the spotlight with greater frequency. The Art Renewal Center aims to lead the revival of realism and each year they gain a bigger and bigger following. The number of entries has grown each year with a 20% increase in just the last year. I think this trend is going to continue and I’m excited to see where it goes.

This year they received over 3,750 entries from 69 countries and approximately 28% have been selected finalists. I was also a finalist last year with my portrait of Nippy. Winners will be posted in mid February – please wish me luck!

CLICK TO VIEW FINALISTS

About The Art Renewal Center

“Leading the revival of realism in the visual arts, the Art Renewal Center (ARC), a 501(c)(3), non-profit, educational foundation, hosts the largest online museum dedicated to realist art and includes works by the old masters, 19th century, and contemporary realists as well as articles, letters and other online resources. The ARC is the foremost and only vetting service for realist art schools ensuring that the teaching curricula and quality of teacher and student work meet our strict standards to become ARC Approved™. The ARC also runs the ARC Salon Competition, which is the largest and most prestigious competition in the western world for realist artists painting, sculpting, and drawing today with nine categories and thousands of works competing, culminating in a traveling live exhibition of many of the winning works. The ARC works with other ARC Allied Organizations™, artist groups, museums, and publications to become a central news hub for the Contemporary Realist Movement of Post Contemporary Art. Read the ARC Philosophy written by ARC Chairman, Frederick C. Ross, to learn why ARC is so passionately dedicated to realist based art.”

Congratulations to all of the finalists!!