DOG & PONY SHOWS: Robert Lucy on the Importance of Eyes (5/6)

I first met Robert Lucy as co-creator (with his longtime partner Chris Wells) of The Secret City, their stupendous monthly celebration of secular artistic mindfulness, with the apt tagline, “We Worship Art.” I instantly became a huge fan and started volunteering my time to the organization. And I also learned that Lucy not only has great taste in art (he curates and presents the visual artist at every “service”) but he himself is a sought-after fine artist and portraitist. As reproductions of his paintings  make very clear in our Ideablog posts this week, Lucy is enormously gifted at capturing likenesses of animals (and human animals) that evoke smiles and deep identification—while also turning them into glorious pop-icons. What’s also outstanding is his ability to convey the monumental emotional significance that these animals have to their commissioning humans—no matter if they are actually teacup creatures off the canvas. We invited Lucy to contribute to our “Dog & Pony Shows” theme, because we think he “puts on the dog” better than any artist we have seen.
~Victoria C. Rowan, Ideasmyth Creatix-in-Chief

Eyes Matter

People often tell me they feel I’ve captured the soul of their animal in my paintings. It’s true that I feel a great connection to animals—and one of the great joys of my work is that I spend so much time with these creatures that I feel I know them.

The greatest impact of each portrait lies in capturing the eyes, you know, the window to the soul and all that. Every aspect of the portrait is important but capturing the eyes is where I put my sharpest focus and attention.

It’s especially exciting when someone commissions a piece on a grand scale. I do a lot of 12×12 works and then—bam—I get asked to paint Fido on a 48×48 canvas. Scale impacts things and capturing the eyes of an animal that is 5 to 10 times its actual size can be thrilling.

Same for human portraits. Last year a client asked me to paint a 48×48 inch portrait of her daughter to hang in her NYC penthouse. For that I worked from an iPhone photo. Incredible technological advances, right?

Since I’m working from photographs, it’s obvious that the better the source photo I have to work with the better the results. A good photo means that it’s a compelling image and that it’s in focus. I’m especially drawn to images where the subject is making eye contact with the viewer—that’s how I get those EYES and, we hope, capture their soul.

See more of Robert’s Featured Creative posts on our Ideablog


~~~Robert Lucy has been painting and drawing professionally for over 25 years, and loving animals for my whole life. He has a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he lived for 15 years and made a reputation for himself painting still lifes, landscapes, portraits and colored pencil drawings. He grew up in St. Louis, and after leaving Chicago spent several years on the Oregon Coast. In 2006 he moved to NYC, and most recently has moved his home and studio to Woodstock, NY in the Catskill Mountains.

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