Friday, March 20, 2015

Painting LIVE at Weddings and Events

I have heard that it was Eva Longoria who came up the the concept of having an artist paint live at her wedding. Since then, I have seen more and more painters showing off their work from weddings. I have since started the trend over five years ago.

This is not for the faint-hearted artist. It is a long, hard day of very stressful painting. But it is not without it's rewards. You have to be able to stand for long hours and be able to talk while you are painting. The lighting may not be good, the weather conditions can be challenging. You have to be ready for everything. In the painting above, it had rained for a couple days and the sun was just beginning to come out. I was standing in an inch of water! I have painted in a tent and froze. Unlike the guests, I am standing still while they are dancing and enjoying themselves. But when it goes well, I am like a family member for this wonderful event. I get to meet everyone that comes to the wedding. I let the guests paint on my painting and educate them about the life of an artist and what it feels like to put paint down. I am working in some of the most beautiful settings. I really enjoy it.

My process is to go to the event early and paint in the scene that was previously designated by the bride or party that hired me. When the bride and groom arrive, I paint them in. I finish the painting in front of all the guests. I am usually met with stunned looks and begin to get to know everyone when the come by and see the finished painting. The first painting is usually 11 x 14. I have to work small to get in all the details quickly. If it were larger, it may take too much time.

Once the ceremony is over I run over to to the reception and set up my gear to paint the first dance. You must be very organized to get this done quickly. I don't need a lot of space so I fit in quite nicely. Since I use odorless turpentine, there is no odor to get in the way of the delicious food. I just need a place to plug in my lamp so I can see. When the guests arrive, they are able to see me work from a white canvas and see the finish painting appear in front of their eyes! This time I am working on a 
16 x 20 canvas.
Again, I am quickly adding in the room's details waiting for the moment when the bride and groom arrive and dance their first dance. It is a very tense time for me. By this time, I am already standing for three or four hours. I want this painting to be brilliant!
When the couple arrive and begin dancing, I quickly sketch them in and then take as many photos as I am able, to capture details I may use later when I am back in the studio. Since I like the energy and looseness in these quick sketches, I rarely touch up my paintings when I get home. 
Once the dance is over, I begin to relax knowing I have plenty of time to finish while the guests are eating and dancing. Once my painting is in the finish stages, it's my turn to enjoy myself. I love interacting with the guests and have them add a stroke or two to the painting to make the painting more intimate and personal. This is usually a big hit. Since this is fairly a new trend, most of the guests have never heard of this. They love to feel the brush in their hands and get into the idea that this painting will be on the newly wedded couple's wall with a few of their own stokes.

What the bride and groom get is their very first heirloom. A timeless work of art showing their most special day. Sometimes they keep both paintings, other times they gift one painting to their parents and keep the other. It is fun to see them arguing about who gets what!

I also paint at LIVE events and fundraisers. It is a wonderful way to educate people who would not ordinarily see artists at work. I make myself accessible to answer any questions they may have. It is a great community awareness from the companies that hire me. People may be inspired to donate more at fundraisers knowing they will bring a beautiful piece of artwork home with them.

If this sounds like it is for you, you have to be confident and fearless. You must be able to mingle with the guests while you are working. You have to be able to stand for long hours. And you have to do a good job.


  1. Thanks Diane? I have thought about it but I think it's too stressful for me! Sounds great though!! And beautiful work!
    Joanne Willoughby

  2. These pictures are all gorgeous! I would love to have a live event painter at my wedding. I think that would be such a fun way to capture my special day, you know? I especially love the picture of the man painting the bride and the groom dancing. That's so romantic.