Tulsa, Oklahoma Artist, Rebecca Luper Draws Pen & ink Sea Creature Illustrations

I think for me I can't force a moment of drawing, I have to be lost in it, and it mostly happens in the best ways when I am preoccupied and not even thinking about what I am doing, just letting something happen.

So, where are you from, Rebecca?

I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I moved away for collage, got married and then moved back here in 2005. I have lived here again since then. This is where a large chunk of my family still live so I try to stay semi close make sure my kids get to grow up around their cousins and extended family as much as possible.

I'm originally from Oregon myself. I've been in Oklahoma now for nine years. I can honestly say it took me about three years to accept Oklahoma lifestyle. A bit of a culture shock I must say. I'm often asked what brought me out here, and well I relocated to be closer to my sister and her kids and now I'm married and have an eleven month old daughter.

Did you study art formally and if so, where?

I took advanced art and various studio art classes all 4 years of high school, but that is the only “training” I have ever received and that was a little over 20 years ago! I have watched many of my more formally trained friends around town, and I watch a lot of technique videos on YouTube when I just can't figure out how to get a result I want. I know that sounds new age, but it works!

YouTube is a perfect resource! The beauty of our technology we have available today allows us to learn and discover new creative ways to express our inner artist desires.

Do you have a favorite medium?

I have played with watercolor and at times find that I am ok at it, but not the best… I tend to draw more than I paint, I have a favorite pen currently, it is the Superior needle drawing pens MS807A, they come with all different sized tips to get as detailed or loose as you’d like…

I think I like them as well because I can take them anywhere and be ready to draw in seconds as opposed to having to set up to paint… I love acrylic though and how forgiving it is, if I had to choose between acrylic, or oil… I have never really used oil, only briefly in HS.. perhaps one day.  So over all I would say pen and ink, with a close second of acrylic.

Your pen & ink illustrations are stunning! With the samples you submitted, I noticed a dynamic sea creature theme. Simply beautiful the subtle details you are able to illustrate.

Please tell the Savvy Palette readers what does your art aims to say?

I am a bit of an introvert, but this is an avenue that allows me to process pretty much anything I am going through in a healthy way….

I would like for someone to look at my art and feel even a fraction of what they are needing from it and to see in it something they can get lost in, comfort I guess if that makes sense. I would hope that it can allow them a little bit of an escape as it did for me creating it…. and then maybe inspire them to try more of what they love as well in hopes of it doing the same for others.

Does your work comment on political, or social issues?

I would have to say no to this, I don’t support any kind of agendas in what I do… although I am not apposed to using art as a communication tool, rightfully so..

I think especially right now the market is saturated with what is being called political art…I personally steer away from this but respect the artists that use their platform tastefully.

I am the same. I use my art to escape the political and social issues that we seem to be inundated with daily now via social sites like Facebook.

What is your art dream?

I would have to say, owning a studio where I could have artists come in and create whatever they want to, while having a space of my own as well. I have never had a designated space. I have always had to pack up and put away and haven’t had the room to organize and make a creative space and so it has at times stifled the ability to work when inspired because of the time it takes to gather and get everything out and then have to pack it all back up afterwards…

It has always been a dream of mine to own a space that would be designated significant to my art.. and then expanding that to give the same gift to others who may not have the space but have the need to create. …

I am not so much of a teacher in that I could teach art, but I would love to create a space where others are free to be themselves and when you are around others, you tend to pick up tidbits along the way as well.

We all end up influencing each other and in turn creating things we have enjoyed doing as well as can be proud of.

I say, be savvy! Chase your dreams, never give up. Pursue them with relentless vigor.

Tell me, what is your background in the arts?

I wouldn’t say that I have one! I have no formal experience outside of high school…I have a good friend Evelyn that I used to model for at her studio, she introduced me to the Tulsa Art Center where I have met several artists and learned a lot about presentation, however honestly I am just now getting to the point where I would even consider myself to be an artist. It has just always been something I do, not because I thought I was good at it, but because it has been my outlet. I have no impressive list of names, or connections..

It has just been me doing what I love to do and now I would like to see if what I love to do could mean something to others.

My art career started informally while I was in my senior year of high school when I painted a piece entitled, "Victory Touchdown" that went on to be displayed in the Nations' Capitol for one year after winning first place in the state of Oregon.

Who are your 3 biggest art influences and why?

1. I grew up with walls covered in Georgia O’Keeffe art, she was one of my grandmas favorite artists, she was known for painting nature in a way that showed how it made her feel about it, exaggerated and larger than life petals and flowers…Before I understood what expressionism was, she taught me how to see something and then show others how it made me feel about it.

2. As different in technique as they may be, Jackson Pollock was an obsession of mine throughout college, maybe because of his dark side that he had to find a way out of in order to overcome himself enough to make the things he did, but the fact that I am not sure he ever really overcame anything.

His work was the epitome of chaos to me, and maybe that is why I was so curious about him…. I watched any documentary I could find on him to try and understand the why behind his way, but in the end, I somewhat understood him perfectly. He was doing exactly what I and many other self proclaimed artists do.

We try to find ourselves through a form of communication that is too complex for words and yet everyone finds themselves inside the emotion of the painting and thoughts of each painting differently and somehow all come away with what they needed most. It is an intimate and chaotic story told on canvas and I love it!  

Absolutely, without a doubt. I paint to take care of myself and communicate when there are just no words to express the feelings I am experiencing.

3. Something I was always told growing up was that there are no mistakes in art. I actually don’t remember who said it first but the repetition of hearing it throughout my life from different people kind of instilled this likeness of forgiveness and grace which causes me to understand myself through Gods eyes a little better in seeing all the imperfect places in each piece.

So if I could label this as what has influenced me instead of who, I would say forgiveness and His grace has influenced my art in that every time I get so frustrated that I have messed something up, it gives me the ability to set it down and wait.. Come back with fresh eyes later and some of my favorite pieces today, were ones I would have thrown away at one point and never finished if not for this phrase and reminder sticking with me.

How do you navigate the art world?

Thus far, I have only really ever casually mingled in the “art world”. I have sat as a model for some amazing artists allowing me to meet many people but I have only really enjoyed them as friends. Only recently have I really been interested in looking into actually showing anything I have done at all.

I go to exhibits and art shows and stay in touch with different artist friends through social media mostly due to the pandemic of course most communication these days is done online. But honestly this is one reason that I reached out when I say your invite because I am interested in growing and becoming a bit more social in this aspect and learning from those who have been down this road of discovery already.

If there is something you could change about the art world/market - what would it be?

I think many unschooled artists, or just people like me who have found acceptance in this form of expressionism have a difficult time getting themselves out there in a professional manner. There is such a mentality of the starving artist, making us think that we have to work forever for even the slightest bit of recognition to see if we are good enough by societies standard of what an artist is these days.

There defiantly is a mental stigmatism associated with being, or becoming an artist that happens a lot of artists ability of becoming successful. The main reason I created this blog was to help and guide new and young artists through the often turbulent waters of being an artist.

It is a world of connection instead of talent at times, or a battle of wit, between who can convey the story the best…. I think there is a time and a place for all forms of art and it is hard if not impossible at times for budding artists to get a foot in somewhere… If you are just starting out, you can't pay 380 dollar booth rentals to display your art and get it in front of the right people…

Starting out it can be difficult, but I try to stress to artists to remain focused on their dreams and desires and take baby steps toward there career aspirations of being an artist and to never give up.

That is kind of where I would like to make a difference as well, if there were more places that local artists could display their work, a common area or something.. It may help many get the break they need with out breaking them to get there! I hope I can make a small difference in that here in Tulsa some day. I know that it takes money to make money and that some are so talented but just have nothing to start with as well!

How do you price your work?

If I know I am going to sell something, I typically give a price up front. I base it on available materials and time it will take me to complete the project depending on how simple/complex/time consuming it may be.  

I also look at the market for similar items just to make sure I am pricing reasonable, even though I feel like that is not as personable I do try to follow some of the trends for different types of art to make sure I am not emotionally pricing something because I am attached to it I want to be fair and reasonable with all, and still feel like the value is kept on my work.

Any current art trends you are intrigued by?

I think far and wide, there has been a large expansion into graphic design with so many artists being quarantined inside and not as free to get out into their normal habits, I think some have turned to digital art and because of the unrest in society much of it has turned to a political flair as well.

I personally am somewhat introverted already and enjoy my quite time away from current events and people so I may not follow the popular trends per say as much as some, but this is something I have noticed among friends in the circle that I do frequently try to keep updated on. Even much of our sharing of our art has now reached an all time high inside the social media platforms.

What role do you believe artists have in society?

I believe that there are may heartbeats to society, there is law and order, there are preachers  and teachers, there are the children and the millionaires but you cant hardly categorize the artist. They are found in every walk of life, in every status , color and nationality. Being an artist I don’t think can be defined as a job title like a police officer, or a teacher because those can be looked at as something you do, not necessarily something you just are.….

It is more about who a person is, I think, more than what they do. There is a beauty far deeper inside someone who was created to dance and yet holds a sign for children during the day at a cross walk while they are working on their techniques and making the kids smile and laugh as they go by. Many “artists” do not have the privilege of wearing that title alone.

That is why they don’t just play the singular role in society of showing others how to feel through their art, but they often times are the backs that build the city and the bread winners that pay for the buildings that the young artists come and paint on…

They are not just a part of society, they are what make up our society as well. In doing so, we are gifted, not just with the talents that allow us to see our world through others eyes but also tangibly through the people we know and how we allow them to change us. I hope that makes sense!

Do you have a favorite famous artist? If so, why?

I would have to say that the 2 mentioned above would double as my favorites and if not the most famous painter of the sky Himself, for giving us the brilliant ability to see in color and almost feel just by seeing the different shades and vibrant hues, how much He loved us as He created such a world for us to live in.

What are your thoughts on art movements?

I think it is important to understand what is meant by a “movement” in my experience it is a separation of what has been and is something unique, or something that can be identifiably different from another technique, or method used previously.

It helps us distinguish era’s at times, it helps in the process of reintroducing old methods as well as helps organize the past in a way that enables a new artist to understand the progression of their craft through the years… Some have been quite funny to me, and others fascinating…

There are definite advances through the years, Lord knows where would we be with out the Renaissance movements!

Wrapping Things Up

I want to send a special thanks out to Rebecca for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions and taking part in this interview for Savvy Palette.

If you're an artist and interested in being interviewed and featured here on this site - please email me at info@savvypalette.com.

#savvypalette #artistblog #artistinterview #rebeccaluper #tulsaoklahoma #oklahomaartist #illustration #artblog



The Savvy Artist

Starting my artistic journey in 1997, the desire to create art that I attained soon became an unyielding obligation to myself to explore the inner mechanism of my creative consciousness.


From small sketches to large scale projects, my art is a highly-personal reflection of myself.

I’ve been lucky enough to have participated in many collaborative projects, as well as exhibiting in a solo capacity, which has solidified my reputation in the art world.


If you would like to find out more about my process, get in touch.

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