Whether you’re a patron I’ve worked for in the past, a friend or family member wondering how this ‘live painting’ thing works, or a bride who is planning on having me take part in your upcoming wedding, I thought you’d enjoy a glimpse of what the big event day is like from my perspective. Without further ado, here is an example of what a day for me looks like when I have a Live Painting gig.
Since Saturdays are my most common gig days and most of my Live Painting is for weddings, we’ll imagine this is a Saturday wedding. We’ll imagine it’s taking place at a venue about 1.5 hours away from my home and that I’ve been asked to paint the ceremony.
The Day Before
[at the studio]: I pack up my palette and brushes and load them into my car along with a fresh canvas, my easel, and other materials that I’ll need on-site.
The Day Of
6-8:00am [at home]: Rise and go on a run. Get some tea and breakfast with my family.
8:30am-11: I hang out with the kids, do some yard work or other at-home chores, or maybe run an errand. Or I might stay home and keep an eye on everyone while Deirdre does the grocery shopping for the week or gets some other errand of her own done.
11:30: I clean up and get dressed, review any details about travel, arrival instruction, etc.
12:00: I have lunch with my family. Deirdre packs me some snacks and plenty of water - maybe some iced tea - for the road. (I get hungry on these days: she knows I appreciate portable, high-protein snacks… and something for my sweet tooth.)
12:30: I say goodbye to the family and depart for the event. I might listen to a podcast on the way (lately I’ve been enjoying a lot of history learning on my commutes and long drives).
2:00pm: [on location] I arrive at the wedding venue, connect with my point of contact (maybe it’s the wedding planner or a venue coordinator) and locate the best spot for my easel. Unpack and get set up.
2:30pm: I start painting the background of the scene. At this point, I relax and settle into the process. I might meet the other vendors for the day and have a chat with the photographer and maybe a family member of the bride or groom.
4:30pm: As guests file into the space and take their seats, I concentrate a bit more on how the light is landing and get ready to bring the painting to the next level of detail. I also field a few questions as folks notice my artwork, wonder what I’m up to, and want to learn more.
5:00pm: The bride walks down the aisle and the ceremony starts. Now I am doing a lot of observation, making mental notes on all the details, and looking for just the right moment. I take out my camera and get some good photos for reference. I start to paint the couple in.
5:30-6:30pm: As the cocktail hour takes place, I get back into the zone, working on the painting. The key moment has passed and everyone is dispersing, but now I’m leaning on my memory and on my reference photos to keep honing in on the image. Lots of questions and answers with guests around now.
7pm: The reception gets into full swing. The couple might come around and take a look, and I always look forward to getting their reaction and hearing their feedback. Guests might come to see how the painting looks, compared to their first glance at 4:45, or they might just start to notice me and enjoy the ‘instant replay’ from the ceremony.
7:30pm: I take a break from painting to have dinner, either perched in a quiet spot or sitting with the other vendors.
8pm: After a break, I have a fresh look at the painting. By now, my work is mostly done and I know I’ll add final touches in the studio. But I might hang around for a bit to soak in the scene, answer questions from wedding attendees, and add some more strokes while the image is fresh in my mind. If the crowd is very engaged with my work, I’ll stick around longer; if everyone has moved on to the dancefloor or elsewhere, I’ll pack up.
10:00pm: My car is all packed and my work is done; I dip into my snack bag for a little pick-me-up and then hit the road.
11pm: I arrive back at my studio. I clean my brushes and palette for the night. I store the painting safely where it can begin the drying process.
12:00am: I hit the hay back at home.
The following Monday
I follow up with any post-event communication that needs to happen.
Back in the studio, I take a fresh look at the painting. In the coming days, I add a few final touches - usually to the faces and figures of the bride and groom. I paint the sides of the canvas (it doesn't usually work logistically to do this step before now). I let it dry.
Sometime the following week
I varnish the painting.
Two weeks later
I give the painting a second coat of varnish.
Three weeks later
By now the painting should be totally dry and ready to ship. I photograph the painting for my portfolio and also so that I can produce any prints and/or cards that have been requested.
Depending on my workflow and how many other paintings also need to head to their final destinations, I’ll pack it up or I’ll let it set a little longer.
By one to three months later
The painting arrives to the newlyweds and I check in to make sure all is well. Even though this is a week-in, week-out routine through the season, I am always anxious to hear a pleased word in response, and always thrilled when I do.
Did I miss anything that you’ve wondered about? Thanks for reading!
For more about Live Painting, click here.
Hello there, I'm John H. Folley, an oil painter in the Boston School tradition. Thanks for visiting the Beauty Advocacy Blog, where it's my job to help you become a more discerning art appreciator.
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