Well this April I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and experienced the joys and stresses of "live painting". It was the first I had heard of it when a friend's daughter reached out to me about painting at her wedding. I'm embarrassed to say that I actually had to look it up online. Turns out it is quite popular now for brides to have artists painting live at their wedding, while their guests can stroll by and watch the painting taking shape on paper or canvas. Such a great way to document a wedding in addition to videos and photographs!
At first the very thought of the pressure made me want to run and hide under the covers. However, as I looked at the work of other "live painters" I began to believe that their pieces were not beyond my scope and level of experience. I'm ever the optimist : ) The more I spoke with the bride, the more comfortable I felt. She's a lovely lady inside and out, who loves art, so it wasn't a difficult leap for me to decide to work for her. This particular bride does art therapy with patients so she has a great understanding and appreciation for all that goes into a painting. I also felt much better knowing I had plenty of time to plan ahead. The bride showed me a photo of the venue so I could do a little sketching ahead of time. Even when painting in-studio I think that creating quick little paintings and value sketches first before creating the final piece are the way to go.
I arrived at the venue hours ahead of time, so I could begin drawing and painting the scene of the ceremony and have something down on my paper before the guests arrived.
As the guests took their seats, they could come and peek at what I was creating. Everyone was very curious about the process and what it would end up looking like (including me)!
As you can see in the photograph below, I was seated at the back of the ceremony. Sitting at this lower viewing angle, however, made it difficult to view the entire bridal party. I could only see the bride, groom and the officiant. I had to rely on photographs to complete the painting in my home studio the weeks following the wedding.
We agreed that I would paint as much as I could on location, breaking for dinner and working through the reception.
Their venue was straight out of a southern novel with the most beautiful waterfront scenery and delicious catered seafood! Oh you can bet that I dove into those crab cakes, fresh red fish, coleslaw and fried shrimp. I know an on-the-job perk when I see one!
I was so thankful and happy to have the yummy break and get to know some of their guests, celebrating along with them.
After dinner I went back to painting while the guests danced and enjoyed the reception. There was a lot of interest in how the painting was coming along.
The kids especially enjoyed looking for their likeness among the guests that were painted. I had wished I was farther along in the piece by this point, but happily the bride and groom were patient and understanding with my learning curve.
While I had some challenges of seriously hot morning sunshine, intermittent spring showers and not being the fastest of painters, all in all it was a very positive experience. The moral of the story is, if you're learning on the job, be honest about your knowledge and abilities. It helps to be brave by doing artwork for great people who will support you in your learning process!
One of my favorite parts of this job was making the bride and groom little thank-you notecards from the final artwork. The bride intended to use these notecards to thank her family and friends for coming and it allowed the guests to see the final painted piece.
I enjoyed meeting many great folks that day and I'm hoping some of them will enjoy seeing themselves worked into the scene!
Whether I am painting custom artwork, creating a water colored logo for a client, or teaching art students, I hope to refresh and inspire others with my work. Read more ...