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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.

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

Two very different approaches to painting the landscape

trees

Left: Landscape in the nursery, Right: Vigil (in progress)

A playful mural and a very serious oil painting

For the last two months, I’ve been working hard on two very different projects featuring landscapes. The landscape doesn’t often play such a primary role in my artwork and it’s turned out to be a fortunate coincidence that I’m working on both of these paintings at the same time.

 

WIP-Vigil-Barn2

This is a painting featuring my sister-in-law Molly, the second of a planned series of five (check out the first painting in the series, Vigil). In this painting, she surveys her property on the outskirts of Seattle. In terms of hours, I’d say it’s just over half done, and although I’m feeling good about my progress, it’ll be a while before I can call it finished. But I finally feel like I’ve got the sky figured out, after going back and forth between it and the trees session after session.

 

mural1

This landscape painting couldn’t be more different from the first one. It’s a mural I painted for the baby’s nursery (I’m in the ninth month of pregnancy!) with the help of several friends. It has been quite a learning curve for me, since I normally paint small works in oil, typically referencing a photograph closely, whereas this is a full-height, wall-to-wall painting in acrylic, stitched together on the fly from many images, views out the window, and even painted from imagination.

It has been really interesting to compare the very different ways of going about the actual painting process, and very freeing for me. I am noticing changes lately in how I approach my work, as I become more spontaneous and intuitive in both the planning and execution of my paintings. In the oil painting above (Molly looking into the landscape), for instance, my head is spinning trying to keep track of every little tangled branch, and I am coming to realize that maybe they don’t all need to end up in the painting at the same exact location as in my source image. I’ve been working so closely from a reference for my paintings for so long that I don’t allow myself much freedom. But it feels like such a relief to think that I can still look and reference this image, but rely a bit more on my intuition in future.

I hope you’ll keep an eye out for a more in-depth post about the mural and to see how the oil painting turns out!

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!

Charity Auction for December’s Monthly Miniature Rabbit Painting

 

Snow Rabbit In progress oil painting

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

Get your bidding cards ready, this painting is going up for auction December 7th!

Painting the Monthly Miniatures has been an amazing journey. Each month I’m creating one new painting of my rabbits, and I love how each new painting ends up inspiring new ideas for the next two or three paintings.

I’ve been humbled by all of the support from everyone out there. Each painting has sold, most within 24 hours of being released (sometimes in minutes!). For the paintings to go to loving homes is such a huge blessing. My heartfelt thanks to all you Monthly Miniature owners out there.

Why an auction this month?

First, since they’re selling so quickly, I thought it would be nice to give more people the chance to purchase one of the little paintings.

Second, I’d like to engage my audience and get more exposure. I love painting, and the more people that know I exist, the better for my art career. So please spread the word!

Third and most important, 50% of the sale price of this painting goes to two local nonprofits who helped my rabbits and their litter mates. Read the story of my two long-eared muses and how Special Bunny and Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation helped them come into my life on my last blog post.

How to bid?

Bidding will be simple and take place on Facebook (but I will do my best to accommodate anyone interested who does not have an account). Bids will be entered directly in reply to a post featuring the finished and framed painting. It will be live for about a week, Monday December 7th at 8AM PST to Sunday December 13th at 5PM PST. Bidding instructions will be found under the “Notes” tab on Facebook, but basically each bid will look like:

Bid $100

If you are the winning bidder, please confirm your method of payment within 48 hours of winning the auction. I would like to get the painting shipped as soon as possible!

No Facebook account or want to be anonymous?

If you don’t have an account or if public bidding will ruin a surprise (or it’s just not your thing), contact me with your maximum bid, and I’ll post for you, complete with an Anonymous Bidder Codename. I will periodically update the leading bid by increments of $10, up to your maximum bid, and send you an update email if you aren’t on Facebook.

Payment Method

Paypal is easy for most people, but I happily accept checks and credit cards. Just make sure I have a current email and mailing address for you, and confirm your method of payment within 48 hours of winning the auction. If paying by check, make sure to get it to me within five business days to keep your winning bid status.

Will I continue to do auctions?

If all goes well, I may do another one next December, but expect all the future monthly Miniatures (at least January – November) to sell directly from the website as usual.

Questions?

If I seem to have missed something important, please contact me. Thanks for you interest, and happy bidding!

 

Pet Portrait Commission Underpainting of Leo the Cat

Cat-painting_in-progress_rebecca-luncan

The pet portrait of Leo the cat is seen in the first stages of the underpainting, where you can catch a glimpse of my process.

I like to make quick, loose underpaintings on top of an underdrawing before I get fussy with details. Many people like to do monochromatic underpaintings (also called grisaille) but I prefer to use full color because it helps in balancing the composition. I blocked this painting out as seen above, but I often start painting with just black (mixed burnt umber and ultramarine blue), as in the Bride of Frankenstein Mismatched Portrait, then go back to block in the rest after it’s dry.

Why do an underpainting?

First, it’s helpful to figure out the composition quickly before too much time is spent adding details that may need to be changed later. Small alterations are part of the process, but this step can help prevent big changes later.

Second, having multiple layers of paint creates a depth and richness that is visible in the final painting.

And third, when done properly with a “fat over lean” technique, a lean underpainting can help prevent cracking in later years. A lean layer uses very little oil medium (though you can use artist’s grade turpentine or similar) and typically uses paint colors that dry quickly. Because a lean layer has a high proportion of pigment granules per volume of oil binder, the paint film has a rough surface that allows subsequent layers to grab and stick more effectively. This lean layer is brittle on its own, but it is protected by subsequent ‘fat’ layers (lower pigment to oil ratio) that are more flexible and resistant to cracking, though they take longer to dry.

My Underpainting Palette

Oil paint colors dry at different rates and those that dry more quickly are ideal for use in the underpainting. For my underpainting, I typically use a Flake White Hue (a less toxic lead-free replacement to traditional Flake White), Cobalt Yellow, Venetian Red, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, and Burnt Umber. Other quick drying colors are Cobalt Green, Manganese Blue, Prussian Blue, Manganese Violet, Raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna.

Have an underpainting palette you love? Please share in the comments!

Infrared reflectogram detail of Jan Van Eyck’s painting

Take a look at this wonderfully detailed conservation report of Jan Van Eyck’s Margaret, the Artist’s Wife. I love seeing the infrared reflectogram details showing how the underpainting was slightly different than the final painting. The Italians have given us a word for this phenomenon: pentimento.

Visit the Commissions page if you’ve ever considered commissioning a portrait of your own, and follow me on Instagram to see more images of paintings in-progress.

Bride of Frankenstein Painting Begins!

Bride_of_Frankenstien_Bunny_oil_painting_underpainting

I’ve been commissioned to do a portrait of The Bride of Frankenstein from the 1935 film starring Elsa Lanchester. The commission was influenced by a current body of work that I call Mismatched Portraits, and my fabulous patron, Jennifer, who is also an artist, invited me to compose it any way I liked.  This is an image showing the very first stages of the underpainting.

I’ve also included some of the first paintings completed in this series below.

Contemporary Portrait Painting of John Wayne, OIl on aluminum panel, by Rebecca Luncan

Mismatched Portrait (John), oil on aluminum, 3 x 5, 2014

Contemporary Portrait Painting of Louise Brooks, OIl on aluminum panel, by Rebecca Luncan

Mismatched Portrait (Louise), oil on aluminum, 3 x 5, 2015