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Owen and Silvan, a Miniature Portrait of Brothers (as birds)

This month’s miniature portrait of brothers features the sons of artist Jennifer Zwick. Jenny is a fixture in the Seattle art community, and I’ve known her since long before she had kids. I’ve always been a great fan of her work, her contagious grin, and her breathtaking beauty (I’ve nicknamed her Snow White, and yes, she is the fairest of them all!).

detail of Miniature portrait of brothers. oil painting by Rebecca Luncan

Detail of, “Portrait of Owen and Silvan”
4″ x 4″
oil on copper

I did a painting of Jenny once upon a time, and I’ve been excited to make a portrait of her boys. I originally imagined a classic miniature, but these two just didn’t quite fit the mold. Jenny sent me dozens of images, some of which fit my original idea, but there were so many goofy shots. These kids are definitely raised in a very creative household, and I felt more and more that their portrait should reflect this. There were several images that fit, but I love the expressiveness of the two of them in this image in particular. You see so much about their relationship, and capturing it in a painting was worth the madness of painting such tiny faces and hands.

This is the smallest-scale portrait I’ve made in a long time, and if I never work so small again, I’ll be glad the last time was for Jenny. Please take the time to enjoy a peek into her life as an artist mom, through her words and images below.

Please visit the gallery of Monthly Miniatures, and learn more about all of the Artists featured in the series in the Archive.

Words from Jennifer, on being an artist and mother:

Jenny Zwick, art and family

Jenny Zwick, art and son Owen

My first thought is to write about how the restrictions of parenting have affected my work: how, when I was first pregnant, I could no longer build large sets, so instead made tiny wearable rooms (which I call “head sets”) with dollhouse hardwood floors and framed artwork which attach magnetically and look hilarious and unreal; or when I was pregnant a second time, and so large I could barely move, and my art grew even smaller still, making miniature watercolors of Nintendo game systems.

But if I focus away from how parenthood makes one’s artistic career smaller (no residences; harder to attend openings; expensive child care; higher stakes and confusion about if making art really is a priority), I see that it was a very natural thing for me to incorporate parenthood into my artistic practice and output.

Jenny Zwick, art and sons Owen and Silvan

Jenny Zwick, art and sons Owen and Silvan

Before pregnancy, my work often focused on what I experienced as a child – things I thought might be possible, or wished could happen, or might as well have.  My obsession with optics, with the disconnect between how our senses literally perceive the world, and then how our brain translates these into the impression of a coherent experience, this was amazing to see firsthand as my children learned about object permanence, or how proximity affects scale (older son’s first airplane trip: “when do we get small?” since he’d only ever seen airplanes flying overhead, in perfect miniature distant detail), or what aspects of a world we will completely take for granted, and what sticks out as wrong, or as special, or as notable.  One ongoing photo series of mine involves building set-based narrative photographs depicting young girls in surreal circumstances, staging remembered childhood ideas and atmospheres.  I was recently able to create several new images, and for the first time, there are adults – two of the photos have mothers; one with her daughter, and one hugely pregnant.

Jennifer Zwick, "Hello 2" 2010 21" x 31" Archival pigment print

Jennifer Zwick, “Hello 2”
2010, 21″ x 31″
Archival pigment print

During my first pregnancy I had a show called “Partum” which was hung in three sections: First Trimester, Second Trimester, Third Trimester – the work was all very distinct, as I adjusted to giving up Ritalin, then as I became anemic, and then as I dealt with acute nervousness and humor about the impending birth.

Recently I revisited a photograph I made for that first “Partum” show, which was about how the female body is treated as a public object. For that photograph I stretched chaotically patterned fabric on a frame, cut a hole in it, and stuck my third-trimester belly through. Photographed head-on, it is a strange exercise in depth, with the flat fabric directly parallel to the picture plane, and the belly jutting out, impossibly round. In the new iteration, I mounted the life-sized photo on foam core, cut the belly button out, and attached it to a small motor which I wired to rotate, comically spinning in the middle of this huge belly, just as weird and humorous and insane as it is to grow a freaking person in your body.

Whenever possible, I love having my kids help with my projects, building or installing or whatever won’t 1) derail the project 2) ruin everything or 3) kill them.

Jenny Zwick, art and sons Owen and Silvan

Jenny Zwick, art and sons Owen and Silvan

Additionally, making large-scale art projects means I end up with interesting and odd materials – one project involved taking site-specific photographs of banal locations at Seattle Center, then printing them out life-sized and reinstalling them on location as photo opportunities.  In order to ensure I had the exact right focal length and composition I made several rounds of large black and white test prints at copy centers.  I did not end up creating a piece at the Kobe Bell Pagoda location, so my then 5-year old son had a great time using all the huge images for his own purposes.  One of them became the backdrop for a “play” he wrote about ghosts, and we brought it to the pagoda and he performed the play (which involved a surprising amount of jumping in dried leaves).

Jennifer Zwick, "The Moment" 2017, 28.8" x 40" Archival pigment print

Jennifer Zwick, “The Moment”
2017, 28.8″ x 40″
Archival pigment print

Jennifer Zwick

From Jennifer about her artwork: Trained in photography, I work in a variety of media, including large-scale installations, wearable sculptures, painting, interactive video installation, printmaking, and photographic processes. I am particularly interested in optics, symmetry, humor, one-point-perspective, anxiety, repetition, repetition, and repetition.  I create artwork which requires the viewer to reorient themselves, using one-point-perspective, in- camera techniques, site-specific construction, and sculptural installation, presenting nonlinear narratives depicting the fraction of a second where something fundamentally concrete is shifted just enough to turn an ordinary moment into something gently surreal.

I firmly believe that by making art which looks fantastical but is constructed rudimentarily, “in real life”, an opportunity is created for the viewer to think about what we will accept as real; about how much our brains miss when we move through the world; about what we take for granted and how much power we truly have to reshape our reality.

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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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Children of Artists, Miniature Portrait Painting of the son of Barbara Robertson

Portrait of Sean

Sean, the happy kid featured in this month’s monthly miniature, is the son of artist Barbara Robertson. I was first introduced to Barbara in the basement at the Seattle Art Museum many years ago and have been following her brilliant career every since.

There is a fear for many women that their career will not recover after being put on hold to raise kids. That is no less true for artist moms, who deal with the additional challenges in being a woman artist who have historicaly been less recognized in museums, galleries and art history publications. Every step forward in a victory, and Barbara is another inspiring example that it can be done. Among other things, the story she tells below highlights how powerful it is to have a role model. Thank you Barbara, for being another incredible inspiration!

Paintings in this Monthly Miniature series fall somewhere between commission work and my original works. Like a commission, source images for these miniatures may come from family photos or be taken by me. But whereas I involve clients in my commissions, both in selecting photos and composing the painting, I take full control in the Monthly Miniatures. Most parents see these portraits for the first time when you do, here in the newsletter. I love the process of composing a painting in collaboration, but having complete freedom gives me a different connection to the painting, and it is helping me develop confidence in my choices.

Barbara (far right) pictured with her family. Her son Sean (left middle row with green hat), husband, step children, grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

Words from Barbara, on being an artist and mother:

When my son was born, I really didn’t know what it was like to be an artist, or anything else, except being a young girl. I had wanted, and dreamed, of being an artist since I was fourteen when I met my first professional, working artist. I was full of the enthusiasm and optimism of youth.

She was the mother of my best friend. I had not dreamed of being a mother. But when I had my baby at age 19, at least I had a great role model for how to be an artist and a mother. My friend’s mother had a studio in her home, with a door that she kept closed; her own private space. I was often invited in to see her work and receive her advice when I was in high school.

My baby was a surprise, of course…who plans a baby at 19? I was a freshman in college, so had taken a few introductory courses and loved it. I was determined to get my degree in art and determined to get my MFA, which I did. It took me ten years, going part time, to get my BFA. I was so naïve, that I did not know that no one takes you seriously as an artist if you are a woman and certainly not if you are a mother. If someone had told me that, I would not have believed them. I had my friend’s mother as an example and I just proceeded as if I had no impediments.

By the time I was in graduate school, my son was ten, and being a parent and a beginning artist was much easier but still a challenge. I was always juggling commitments to find time to make some art. My son often came to UW with me in the evenings and rode his skateboard down the halls of the art school building befriending and charming some of the other students.

Being a young parent definitely has its advantages; you can carry your child around for a long time without getting tired, have endless energy and certainly no carpel tunnel stress that most mature mothers experience. You have lots of stamina and optimism but, the downside is that you are not very smart. And you don’t know what you don’t know. I’m pretty sure that was a disadvantage for him. So my son and I grew up together. He went everywhere with me and lived around creative people and “alternative” life styles and was always a welcome part of the group. This has, I think, contributed to him being a tolerant, wise, independent and intelligent person. As he got older, I devoted more of my time to my art and I think that he thinks that having an artist mother is a natural thing. He is a self -employed craftsman and an amateur chef.

"Rough Cut 3" acrylic and collage on paper, 44" x 30", by Barbara Roberts

“Rough Cut 3″ acrylic and collage on paper, 44″ x 30”, by Barbara Roberts

Barbara Robertson

Seattle based artist Barbara Robertson is known primarily for her work in experimental printmaking. Recently, she has expanded her practice to include digital animation and sound installations. Awards for her work include grants from the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture City Artists program, 4Culture Individual Artists award, 4Cullture Artists Projects grants, Artists Trust GAP grant, a KALA Art Institute Fellowship and the Neddy Fellowship from the Behnke Foundation.

In 2004 her work was included in “Events,” a collaboration with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Joyce Theater, New York. In 2012, her work in animation was exhibited at the 4Cutlure Electronic Gallery in Seattle, in 2012 at “aproject space” in Seattle, Washington, at Trykk 17 Art Center, in Stavanger, Norway and at the Eleftherias Art Center in Athens, Greece.  In the winter of 2013, her animation “Three Phases,” was exhibited on a large outdoor screen at the Gates Foundation in Seattle.  In 2014, three animations and one work on paper were part of a large special exhibition at the Tacoma Art Museum, titled “Ink This! Contemporary Print Art in the Northwest.” Robertson’s work shown in 2014-2016 as part of “The Intersection Between Science, Art and Technology” exhibition at the American Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. In 2015, her work in animation and print was exhibited at “Impact”, Hangzhou, China. Three animations were shown in 2016 at 4Cullture’s E4C electronic gallery.

Robertson’s work is included in private and public collections including the State of Washington Percent for Art, King County Public Art Collection, the City of Seattle Portable Works Collection, Harborview Medical Center, Tacoma Art Museum, University of Washington Special Collections, US Trust and Safeco Corporation. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Washington, Seattle. She established the print art program at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle, served on Pratt’s board of directors and is the founder and past president of Seattle Print Arts. In 2016 she curated and organized a satellite exhibition in conjunction with the Seattle Art Fair, “In Context” exhibiting large scale work by thirteen regional artists. In 2017, her large scale, sight specific animation installation, “Architectonic” was exhibited at Oxbow Art Space in Seattle.

 

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Memorial portrait of Jackson, painted in diptych as puppy & dog

Clark worked hard to make this pair of portraits happen! They were an anniversary gift, and getting all the old photos of Jackson scanned and mailed in secret took time and cunning. Clark was up to the task though, and he supplied me with lots of great images. Although we talked at first of painting Jackson as an adult, he sent me a few pictures from his puppy stage as well. I couldn’t resist mocking up a puppy portrait—the images were too adorable! Clark was tempted too, and instead of one portrait, he commissioned two paintings, each from a different stage in Jackson’s life.

Framing the Portraits

puppy pet portrait oil painting framed by Rebecca Luncan

“Jackson as a Puppy” oil on copper, 6″ x 6″

I sent Clark a selection of frames to choose from and he picked a 1 1/2″ wide natural wooden frame. The color brings out the warmth of Jackson’s Golden Retriever silky coat, and the pair of portraits look great together. Take a look at my Pet Portraits Gallery to see more examples of my work, and visit the Commissions page to learn how to commission your own pet portrait oil paintings.

pet portrait oil painting of golden retriever by Rebecca Luncan

Portrait of Jackson
oil on copper
6″ x 6″

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Hound Dog Pet portrait painting in an Antique Frame

My latest pet portrait painting is of a hound dog named Owsley. Mason contacted me a month before Julianne’s birthday and he wanted to surprise her with Owsley’s portrait. It was too late to finish it in time, so we put it in the schedule for the following year. Mason was able to look through photos with Julianne and get a good idea of what kind of a portrait she would like. And because it was scheduled so far out, it was still a bit of a surprise when he gave her the painting. We did a formal portrait for Owsley in the Dutch tradition, similar to my Into the Country Monthly Miniature series.

Beagle Hound Dog Pet portrait painting in an Antique Frame by Rebecca Luncan

Portrait of Owsley, oil on copper, 3″ x 3″

 

Antique Picture Frame

I gave Mason the option of using either a newly manufactured frame or using an antique hand finished one. He choose to go with one of the antique solid wood circular frames from the 1920’s. Thanks to my sister in Cincinnati, I have a bit over a dozen of these beautiful unfinished frames that came from the Castner Picture Frame Company. They were primed, and then stored for almost a hundred years when the frame manufacture went out of business. Each one is carefully matched with a portrait and then it receives its long awaited finishing coats of paint. Finding miniature solid wood frames with such a classic design is almost impossible today. And though I do still have a dozen of these frames left, I’m always on the look out for more. It’s like finding a little treasure to surround the portrait of someone you treasure.

Contact me to see what antique frames are available for your custom portrait and learn about the commission process on the Commissions page.

 

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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.