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Chicken Painting a Finalist in National Competition

A few months ago I reached out to my Instagram and Facebook community to help me choose which chicken painting to enter in the annual Portrait Society of America’s member’s only competition. I was having trouble picking and thought there would be a clear favorite. After almost a hundred votes though, it was almost exactly a tie! Even so, it still helped me choose. People were very passionate on either side, but people typically liked the hen because the painting was more unique. For right or wrong, I liked that rational and went with it. I’m happy to share that she was a finalist in the animals category. Perhaps the rooster would have done even better in the competition, but you never know!

chicken paintings by Rebecca Luncan
The rooster or the hen?

Both of these paintings have backgrounds that reference Rembrandt self-portrait’s. I’ve always been a huge fan of his work and wanted to portray the chickens in a formal Dutch Portrait style. I helped install an exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum of artwork from the Kenwood House Collection from London several years ago. One of my favorite pieces in the exhibit was his Self-Portrait with Two Circles. This was the painting that inspired the background of my hen. She’s one of four girls that lives in Seattle in my friend Paige’s backyard. As the henpecked bird, she was making a grand show of bring larger and fluffing out. I was very fortunate to actually get a shot of the demonstration during my photo shoot for reference images.

You can find her on display along with the rooster at Winfield Gallery. Go to my Available Works page to see all my paintings currently available in galleries and from the studio.

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Citrus in Porcelain Bowl, Still Life Painting

I’ve been planning this still life painting since April when I made a special In Season larger work of citrus fruit. A common pairing to citrus fruit is the pomegranate, and although you can find some citrus growing in early spring, the pomegranate’s growing season is limited to September through December. 

Seattle Art Museum Porcelain

The Seattle Art Museum has a beautiful bowl in the Porcelain Room with pomegranates that I’ve really wanted to paint, but I’ve had to wait for months for pomegranates to be in season. You can’t see it in the painting, but this SAM page shows the four-toed dragon that decorates the center of the well of this piece. Four of the eight panels are decorated with pomegranates, the other four with precious objects. You can also see it on display in the Porcelain Room in the museum.

Cara Cara, Yuzu, and Pomegranate in Chinese Porcelain still life painting by Rebecca Luncan
Cara Cara, Yuzu, and Pomegranate in Chinese Porcelain, oil on copper, 5″ x 5″

I’ve paired the red fruit with Cara Cara oranges and three spectacular Yuzu lemons from my friend Hiromi’s garden in Seattle. She took me into her unique and magical garden and handed me a pair of cutters with instructions to watch out for the huge thorns that grow on the Japanese trees. 

I’ve loved working on this series of still life paintings and hope you enjoy the final miniature of “In Season”. See them all on my Monthly Miniatures page! And sign up for my monthly newsletter to see new painting for 2020.  

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Seattle Golden Boy, Golden Retriever Portrait Painted on Copper

After being on my site for 5 seconds, you know I love animals. Especially dogs. I’ve been fortunate to have known and painted several Golden Retriever’s portraits over the years and I don’t think I’ve ever known another kind of animal with a sweeter disposition.

I just finished another golden retriever portrait of Hazel who lived to 19. Painting Joey just after finishing that portrait felt like coming back to the beginning of a journey. Everything’s fresh, bright and this new love is so intense and powerful. I wish Joey a life just as long as Hazel’s, filled with a never ending supply of love for and from his family.

golden retriever portrait painting miniature by Rebecca Luncan

This golden retriever portrait is 4″ x 4″ and it’s the smallest size I’m making right now. I love the intimacy of the size but it’s not so small that I can’t fill the portrait with details (like the Seattle skyline in the background).

Joey’s portrait was commissioned by Lori as a holiday gift for her husband. Please go to my Commissions page to learn how to commission a portrait. Go to the Pet Portraits or Portrait Commissions page (paintings of people) to see more examples of my work.

From Lori:

It’s incredible in person, you are beyond talented! I can’t thank you enough..

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New Work in Small Works Exhibit at Harris/Harvey Gallery

Come wish me happy birthday at the opening of “Small Works Show”, Thursday, December 5th! The exhibition includes a wide array of subjects, styles and mediums including: painting, photography, printmaking, and mixed media works. I’ll have four painting in the show.

Harris/Harvey Gallery
1915 First Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
Tues – Sat 11:00 am – 6:00 pm; Mon by appointment
206.443.3315
December 5, 2019 – January 4, 2020
Opening Reception: Thursday, December 5, 6 – 8 p.m. 

New Still Life Paintings

I’ll have two still life paintings in the show that have never been exhibited before. One is a painting of raspberries and insects that is part of my Monthly Miniature series form 2019, In Season. You can learn more about this painting on my blog. The other is from an ongoing larger still life series.

I picked dozens of bartlett pears from the garden this year and we hatched painted lady butterflies from a kit my friend gave to my son for his birthday. I choose the a bowl from the Seattle Art Museum collection that I used in a still life earlier this year Brussels Sprouts and Porcelain Bowl . I spent a year making mounts for the porcelain room at the Seattle Art Museum and fell in love with porcelains. This bowl features “three goats (yang) and the Three Friends of the Cold Season (pine, blossoming plum, and bamboo) all carrying a message of renewal appropriate to the beginning of the new year. Winter ends and spring arrives; yin is on the wane and yang is on the rise, heralding the rebirth of nature.” I chose a different goat for this painting.

Rabbits in the Forest

I have two rabbits and have done more than a dozen painting of them. They were the focus for my first Monthly Miniature series and, years after finishing that series, they still find their way into my work. My indoor rabbits moved to an outdoor run last year and my rabbit paintings have likewise gone from interior settings to the wild outdoors.

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Waffles! Miniature Still Life painting

Breakfast takes center stage in November’s miniature still life painting featuring waffles, apples, small floral arrangement and red dragonfly. I love breakfast. I believe starting every day with a nice leisurely breakfast is absolute perfection. I’ve spoiled my three year old son to believe the same. When asked what he wants for breakfast his reply is usually, “scrambled eggs, pancakes and bacon”. And that’s usually what he gets. Special occasions substitutes the pancakes for waffles.

Dutch still life paintings of breakfast are nothing like the photos of food you see online. Photos of food never seem that appealing to me, but the paintings are delicious. Antoine Vollon’s painting of “Mound of Butter” from the 1800’s was on view at the Seattle Art Museum a few years and it was a feast for the eyes. If they could make a small mountain of butter look delicious, you have to see paintings of eggs and waffles.

Waffles, apples and dragonfly still life painting detail
Waffles, apples and dragonfly Miniature still life paintingby Rebecca Luncan

Finding My Models: Waffles, Blooms and Insects

I knew I wanted the waffles to sit on one of the Dutch silver plates used in so many of my favorite paintings and my own waffle iron is very special to me. It’s an antique cast iron waffle maker from the 1800’s that my sister gave to my years ago, but my circular waffles just weren’t working. It had to happen, but it felt so wrong to buy rectangular frozen waffles to pose for the paintings when I love my own waffle maker so much. But for art, we suffer. I’m kidding, the waffles were delicious. 🙂 

I was having a hard time finding flowers in bloom in November and was about to give up. I take ballet classes from The Ballet Studio in the University district in Seattle and I looked out the window while at the barre to see a flower box in full bloom. Kristen, my teacher gave me a pair of scissors after class and let me bring home some of her last remaining blooms for the painting. I’m amazed I found roses blooming in November, but Seattle is a pretty special place.

The red dragonfly is a frequent visitor to my backyard. I live near several likes north of Seattle in Lynnwood. One summer my husband wore red swim trunks while going for a swim and he was surrounded by dozens of them as he floated.

Hope you enjoy the painting and hope you have a happy holiday season!

Go to my Monthly Miniatures page to see the whole series. Sign up to my monthly newsletter for upstate and for the chance to purchase paintings before they’re public on the site.

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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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Miniature Vanitas

Vanitas with Flowers and Butterflies

As the flowers and trees fade and die back, fall is the perfect time for a miniature vanitas painting. Vanitas paintings were created long before and after they became a common genre in Netherlandish art of the 16th and 17th centuries. They are symbolic and are meant to remind us of the inevitability of death or change.

My grand show of color and life punctuates the shift toward winter, one last “Hurrah!” from the warmer seasons. The hint of the coming winter is found in the tiny, almost hidden hummingbird skeleton. But if you dig into the meaning of the items in the painting, you’ll find that both the cut flowers and skeleton symbolize the same things – death or transience. The cut flowers are preserved my painting in full bloom glory, but they began to fade even before I’d finished the paintings. But don’t worry, the butterflies are a symbol of regeneration, resurrection and the cycle of life. Everything’s going to be fine.  

Detail of Miniature Vanitas with Flowers, hummingbird skeleton and Butterflies oil painting by Rebecca Luncan

Hope you enjoy my newest miniature vanitas and I hope you’re keeping warm and healthy. Thanks to the flowers of my garden, to the dahlia garden at Volunteer Park, and to my sister-in-law for the hummingbird skeleton and the biggest dahlia I’ve ever seen. And a big thank you to you for your continued support.

Go to my Monthly Miniatures page to see the whole series! Sign up to my monthly newsletter for upstate and for the chance to purchase paintings before they’re public.

Detail of Miniature Vanitas with Flowers, oil painting by Rebecca Luncan
Miniature Vanitas with Flowers and Butterflies oil painting by Rebecca Luncan
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Forest Floor Still Life Painting with Rabbits

My English Spot rabbit, Harriet, makes her debut in my newest monthly miniature painting. I was inspired by the forest still life paintings of Otto Mardeus van Schrieck a Dutch painter from the 1600’s. 

Otto Mardeus van Schrieck

Otto Marseus van Schrieck, Snakes, toads and butterflies, 1639, oil on canvas, 24″ x 19.2″

Van Schrieck’s paintings juxtapose light and dark. A sinister snake might lurk in the gloomy foreground while a radiant bloom or a moment of light glows from the background. The New York Times published an article about a new book that explores his work last November. It’s a really colorful read, and I highly recommend taking a look, if only to see some of his fascinating paintings.

Though some elements in my painting come directly from the careful study of a work of van Schrieck’s, I definitely took a lighter approach to my painting. I told my husband that, “I didn’t have such severe subject matter in me.” But after the painting was finished and signed, filled with flowers that reminded me of my family, a mountainous landscape that reminds me of my Pacific Northwest home, and insects, frogs and rabbits that remind me of my childhood, I had a miscarriage. It was the fifth since my son was born three years ago. After finding out, I picked up my paint brush and added a snake. I’m doing fine and my spirits are higher by the day. It’s just interesting, after all these years of painting, to recognize how much of myself I put into each one, however subtle or unconscious.

I hope you enjoy this month’s painting. Take a look below for some detail images. The Silvery Blue butterflies were particularly trying on the eyes!

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Swallowtail Butterfly over Japanese Plums

Still life paintings, both universal and highly individualized

For my Into the Country monthly miniature series from a few years ago, I included one still life with plums and bees (pictured below) in the mix of portraits of animals. This was the first still life painting I’d done since art school, and it helped direct the focus for this years series, “In Season”. This is my eighth painting of this years still life series. I find the still life to be one of the most universally accessible genres of painting. I was amazed to find that still life paintings are also quite personal. Each item I place in my composition is carefully chosen and has personal meaning to me and I hope to my viewers as well.

From the Garden

My Japanese plum tree is the star of my little quarter-acre garden. Almost every August, I get around 2,000 plums from my one tree. Over the years my incredibly juicy plums have been eaten as is (watch out for juice going everywhere!), been made into jam, wine, sweet bread, liqueur, filled up my freezer for winter enjoyment and now they’re models for paintings.

The yellow of the plums make them the perfect companions to the equally golden and plentiful swallowtail butterfly. Swallowtails are found all over the world, and the Western Tiger Swallowtail I’ve featured in my painting makes its dazzling appearance in the Seattle area. And swallowtail butterflies are always fluttering around the garden. One friend said he’s never visited my garden without seeing at least one. This painting feels like distilling some of the beauty and magic of my garden.

Honey Bee and Japanese plum still life, oil paitning on copper by Rebecca Luncan
Into the Country- Honey Bees, oil on copper, 4″ x 4″