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Happy Birthday Pet Portrait

A pet portrait is a gift that will last a lifetime (and beyond!)

Pet portraits take some time to make. But they are worth the wait. The most important part of the process is the planning stage. I like to get the composition figured out right away and take the time to get it right. Carrie and I worked through several ideas until we found the perfect composition.

I put a lot of care into my portraits for two reasons. The biggest reason is that a true representation of the subject honors the connection my clients have to their pets.

I’m also doing it for myself. It’s important to me that my paintings last and using the proper materials and techniques is only part of the equation. Making a work of art that will be interesting to future generations means future generations will take care it long after we are all gone. Likewise, every time I exhibit my work, win an award, or have a painting published I’m adding to the provenance of all of my paintings. Which means they will have a historical context that will add to the future value of my work. Adding value to my work means it will be taken care of.

The Best Part of a Pet Portrait

All of that longevity is important, but the best part of a pet portrait is preserving a well loved smiling face. It’s incredibly meaningful for me to make the special connection humans have to our pets tangible. My glimpse into the bond shared between Carrie, Derek and Sophie was truly a gift and it was an honor to make Sophie’s portrait.

Please visit my commissions page to learn about my process and contact me to get started.

From Carrie:

We received the painting and it’s absolutely beautiful! It’s perfect. Thank you so much! Derek can’t get over how closely you managed to capture Sophie, you’re just SO talented. I hope to work with you in the future!
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Classical Pet Portraits

I was commissioned to make two paintings for Jason. The first, a gift for his sister of her beloved dog Hazel. Hazel was a golden retriever that had given a lifetime of love. The other was of Turbo, a lot of personality packed into a miniature 4″ composition.

I composed both of these painting with classical dutch portraits in mind. There were so many great photos for me to choose from of these two. I was especially inspired by the warmth in Hazel’s eyes and the intelligence in Turbo’s.

I was sad to hear that both Turbo and Hazel passed between the time when we designed the portraits and when they were completed. It really reinforces my mission of creating pet portraits though. And I love that their portraits will live on for hundreds of years to come.

From Jason:

I got them today! We are in love! Thank you so much, such talented work!!
Miniature pet portrait painting framed by Rebecca Luncan

To learn about how to commission your own pet portrait, please visit the Commission’s page.

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Taking photos of your dog for a pet portrait : Do’s and Don’ts

My King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Mona, has posed for us to help demonstrate how to get the best photos for your pet portrait.

  1. Take photos outside.

    Cloudy days are ideal and you can shoot at anytime during the day. If it’s sunny out, it’s best to plan to photograph around an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset. Give yourself around 30 minutes for a photo session. The first image of Mona below is from a huge image file, but it’s a blurry image without a lot of detail because it was taken inside.

    photography don't for pet portrait

    Photo taken inside

    photos for a pet portrait painting

    Photo taken outside

  2. Get on your pets level.

    Though my ten year old Mona does look awfully cute and puppy like in the first image below, images taken from above distort the body and feel kind of generic. I find images shot from closer to a dogs eye level feel more intimate and show a clearer picture of who your unique furry friend is.

    photography don't for pet portrait

    photographed from above

    photos for a pet portrait painting

    Image taken from Mona’s eye level

  3. Get up close.

    The first shot below looks great at first glance, but it’s shot from too far away. When zooming in on the face, you can see that the fine details are lost. Capturing the little details if part of what makes your portrait special and if the detail isn’t in the photo, I can’t paint it.

    Photo taken from far away

    photography don't for pet portrait

    Far away image zoomed in

    Photo taken up close

    photos for a pet portrait painting

    Up close image zoomed in

  4. Light up their eyes.

    A little light reflected in the eyes gives your pet a lively alert expression. Mona looks like she’s kind of sad or very sleepy without that light. Even on a cloudy day you should be able to get a reflection. If you’re having trouble, try to position the sun behind you.

    photography don't for pet portrait

    No reflection in the eyes

    photos for a pet portrait painting

    Reflection in Mona’s eyes

  5. Take lots of photos.

    When trying to get the perfect shot, I took over sixty images. Be patient and try lots of different angles. Block out 30 minutes to take photos and even if you feel like you got the perfect image 5 minutes in, keep shooting for the entire time.

  6. Get a helper.

    Not all dogs are as docile as Mona and having someone there with toys and treats helping pose your dog is a tremendous help.

  7. Bonus tip.

    Don’t forget to brush your dog’s hair! Mona had some tangles I missed before we took our photos. 😉

I look forward to seeing your images!! If you’re having trouble or if you’re unable to get new photos, contact me. Good luck!

Visit my Pet Portraits gallery to see some of my past pet portraits and see my tips for taking photos of your cat for a portrait. And now I’m going to have to make a portrait of Mona! Check back in a few months to see which image I end up choosing.

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Feature in The Stanger 2019 Pet Issue

Every year Seattle’s last surviving newspaper, The Stranger, does a feature issue all about pets. Art critic Jasmyne Keimig interviewed four different artists who immortalize animal friends and I was delighted to be among them. Read the full interview on the Strangers website.

Thank you to the folks at The Stranger that continue to produce such a well loved local paper and for the yearly focus on animals. And a big thank you to Jasmyne for putting so much into writing a lovely article. I’m honored to be included!

They used an image of my portrait of Shiloh, oil on aluminum, 18″ x 12.5″ for the article. Go to my Pet Portraits gallery to see more examples of my work and go to the commissions page to learn about having your very own painting made.

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Self Portrait – Expecting

The idea for the painting “Self Portrait – Expecting” came back when I was six months pregnant with my son and most of my reference images were gathered at that time. Rabbits were a big part of my childhood and I had two rabbits that lived in my painting studio. My rabbit Eleanor, was a natural addition to the painting. Not only did she sit at my feet while I painted, her species has been seen as a symbol of fertility for more than seven-hundred years.

I didn’t start painting “Self Portrait – Expecting” until my son was two and a half and after a series of miscarriages, I had recently learned that I was pregnant again. Eleanor had passed away since the photos were taken and right in the middle of working the painting, I lost yet another pregnancy, the fourth since my son was born. The act of making this painting was such a bitter sweet experience. The painting is about fertility, yet while making it, I was experiencing so much loss. I think that some of my resolve, the strength that I had to keep up for the sake of my two-year old made its way into my expression which changed throughout the painting process. In the end, the painting has become a reminder for me to be grateful and never give up hope.

This painting is on view at Arcadia Contemporary in the group show “ARC Visions 2019“ through March 2nd 2019.

Arcadia Contemporary
39 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105

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ARC Visions 2019

New works for exhibition

I have three new rabbit paintings up at Arcadia Contemporary for the Art Renewal Center “ARC Visions 2019“, a group exhibition featuring the winners of the “Arcadia Contemporary Award” from the 13th Annual International ARC Salon. It’s an impressive group of artwork by eleven different artists and I had the privilege of meeting two of the artists at the opening, and another in Barcelona a couple of weeks before. Lovely people and extremely talented and dedicated artists. Go to Artsy to see all of the artwork in the exhibition. The exhibition is up through March 2nd.

The ARC Salon is an internationally revered competition that attracts submissions from some of the finest realist painters in the world.

The Art Renewal Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational foundation championing the revival of realism in the visual arts and is devoted to furthering the realist art movement and helping talented artists with strong technical skills thrive. Arcadia Contemporary is recognized as one of the premiere showcases for those artists.

Arcadia Contemporary
39 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105

Return to the Wild, 30" x 36", oil on aluminum

Return to the Wild, 30″ x 36″, oil on aluminum, contact the gallery for inquiries

Self Portrait - Expecting, 16" x 12", oil on aluminum by Rebecca Luncan

Self Portrait – Expecting, 16″ x 12″, oil on aluminum, contact the gallery for inquiries

A Silent Gathering (Aspen and Hare), 6" x 4", oil on aluminum by Rebecca Luncan

A Silent Gathering (Aspen and Hare), 6″ x 4″, oil on aluminum, contact the gallery for inquiries

A Silent Gathering (Aspen and Hare), 6" x 4", oil on aluminum by Rebecca Luncan

A Silent Gathering (detail)

ARC visions 2019 exhibition at Arcadia contemporary Rebecca Luncan Installation

Installation at Arcadia Contemporary

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Portrait of Fifi

My latest commission is a cat oil portrait on aluminum. Sean commissioned me to paint Fifi as a gift for his wife. Soon after commissioning the painting however, he let her in on the secret and they both got to enjoy the fun of anticipating the finished creation. We choose an oval format and 6″ x 8″ ended up being the perfect size.

Oil painting detail of pet portrait of fluffy cat by Rebecca Luncan

Detail of Portrait of Fifi
8″ x 6″
oil on aluminum

We choose a solid wood walnut frame with ornate detail on the outside and inside lip to give it a more formal look. I love how the brown of the frame compliments the green in the painting!

Framed cat pet portrait by Rebecca Luncan

Framed cat pet portrait by Rebecca Luncan

 

From Sean:

Painting received, it looks amazing!!!  I am super excited! Thank you again for all your work!

Client with pet portrait

Sean and Fifi pose with Fifi’s portrait

 

Please visit my commissions page to learn how to commission your own pet portrait.

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Painting receives award in Portrait Society of America competition. 

Admiral Vox’s little fan club seems to be expanding! My portrait of this expressive chicken was selected for an award from 1,268 entries in the Portrait Society of America’s 2018 Members Only Competition. The top winning works will be featured in the International Artist Magazine and the Portrait Society of America’s quarterly The Art of the Portrait Journal. The Members Only Competition, held annually, is open to all Portrait Society members in good standing.  Each fall, up to five categories are offered and members can submit up to one artwork per category. Admiral Vox was entered into the “Animals as Subject” category. In each of the five categories awards were given for 1st through 10th place followed by a select group of Finalists.

Pictured Above:

1st Place- Aaron Westerberg, Little Lu, 13×10″, oil on panel
2nd Place- Sandra Kuck, My Dear Angus, 24×24″, oil on canvas
3rd Place- Debra Keirce, Snug As a Bug, 20×23″, oil on panel
4th Place- Shaun Berke, The Outlaw, 24×32″, oil on linen
5th Place- Rebecca Luncan, Admiral Vox, 8×8″, oil on aluminum

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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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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