Live Event Paintings

I paint oil paintings, live, at wedding receptions and events, anywhere in the world. Click my profile to find my email, or call (206) 382-7413.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Caricatures in Northern Idaho

Wedding Arbor, Cataldo, Idaho
The SilverValley of Northern Idaho is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in America. Where the Coeur d’Alene river runs through the mountains of the same name, the valley links a chain of small lakes, until the river flows into the large, meandering Lake Coeur d’Alene. By the mouth of that river is the Old West steamer port town of Harrison, where I stayed in a creaky bed and breakfast, swam in the lake, and bathed in a claw foot tub. On the other end of the valley are the nineteenth century mining towns of Wallace and Cataldo, the latter being the home of the first Jesuit mission in the state. And somewhere in between was the ranch where my clients had their wedding.
The Hall-Green Wedding
A relatively new gravel road was carved up the hill to a wedge of dirt and rock excavated from the mountain, big enough for the guests to park, and with a half barn sort of structure built to accommodate a reception, complete with ee-lec-tricity. It goes without saying that the hillside was an excellent place for the groomsmen to take some target practice before the festivities. And there was even a patch of grass for a ceremony. The whole place was equipped with a view built specially by God Himself, and a piece of it was conveniently framed by a white arbor with a cross on top, and a bough of fresh flowers.
It’s a place to which I should return with my easel and paints. But on this occasion, I was contracted to draw caricatures, rather than a live oil painting.
I always tell the women that my caricatures aren’t demeaning, that I’ll make them all look like movie stars. The men, however, have no such promise—especially if they’re the goofy type who invite a little satire.

Certain precocious children sometimes tend to get drawn repeatedly, on the knees of all their favorite relatives. That’s not a problem in a group of just a hundred and fifty. I drove a long way, and I wasn’t about to leave until everyone who wanted a drawing got one. Or six.

The couple

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Nigerian-German-American Wedding

The Jaiyeola-Von Der Linden Wedding, 24 x 30 inches, oil on canvas
Q: What do you get when a Nigerian-American Disney artist marries a German astrophysicist in Seattle? A: A ceremony and reception full of very, very different and interesting people, from everywhere imaginable.
Since I love painting people, this was a smorgasbord for me. I would have loved to paint individual portraits of so many of these guests.  But these wedding paintings are quick (usually about five hour) overviews of celebratory moments. The most detailed faces are the bride and groom, of course, and their time with me is short, as their attention is in demand throughout the event. I sketched their outlines as they made their rounds from table to table, greeting the guests. I added their faces later, when they had a moment to sand by my easel.
Detail of the couple
 In this case, one of my favorite details was of both the father of the bride and the father of the groom. Although they stood separately to give their toasts, they appear together in the painting. For this reason I often say that my event paintings are a time lapse of the party.

The couple's fathers

Friday, June 24, 2016

A 60th Birthday Party on Lake Washington

Ellefson 60th Birthday Party 2016, 30 x 40 in. oil on canvas, by Sam Day
Creative rigging
It’s the same old American Story. Son of immigrants starts out as deck hand, ends up owning tug boat company.
The story of this painting is familiar, too. Family wants to remember milestone event, hires event painter to create heirloom.
The wife of the birthday boy had an idea of where she wanted the painting to hang in the den, in their waterfront home on Mercer Island, where the party was held. So I showed up early with three different sized canvases, and we tried them out on the mantle above the fireplace, where a model boat had been. She chose the 30 x 40 inch canvas, and because it will hang on a tall stone chimney, asked that it be vertical rather than horizontal. I had only done that once before, and it too was also chosen to fit a specific place in the client’s home.
The format worked really well. After surveying the yard, I went out on the dock and looked back at the house. This view allowed me to include both the house and the yacht, the party tent on the lawn, and the core family in the lower center of the painting. The client’s sons, able seamen all, lashed a beam across the L shaped deck to erect an event tent to shield me from the rain. Guests could see the large painting from the tent, but made the trek down the dock throughout the evening to see the progress up close.  I also happened to be a convenient stop on their way to tour the sixty foot boat moored beside me.
The littlest grandson (four years old) was very much at home on the dock, and he was the first figure I sketched into the painting. I asked him if he had taken swimming lessons (yes), but he quickly asked his babysitter if he could go on the boat (yes), and if he could lift the hatch to the engine room (no).  One could easily see that Norwegian seafaring will stay in the family.

Ellefson 60th Birthday Party 2016 (detail)

Ellefson 60th Birthday Party 2016 (detail).  I always include the dogs.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

SanMar Corp 45th Anniversary Celebration

SanMar Corporation 45th Anniversary Celebration. Oil on canvas, 36x40 inches.
I’m quite comfortable painting on a stage, in front of 1300 dinner guests. It is a bit of a challenge, however, to make those 1300 people the subject of the painting! Moreover, they’re in a darkened room, and I have a spotlight in my eyes! Well, I would have, except for the expertise and cooperation of the lighting crew at Meydenbauer Center, the ample convention center in Bellevue, Washington.
SanMarCorporation is a diverse sportswear and active wear company that has sold over two billion articles of clothing. Still family owned, the company was founded by a really nice guy, who’s 60th birthday party I painted a few years back. At that party, easels were set up for the grandchildren to paint me, while I was painting them. One of those grandchildren joined me on the stage at this event, and contributed a few brush strokes to this painting. I depicted her in the lower right.
The aerialists in the distance were there for quite a while before dinner. But the ones climbing the bright streaming fabrics on either side of the hall only performed for five or six minutes.

SanMar Corp 45th Anniversary Celebration, detail

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Abby and Ben, Melrose Market Studios, Seattle

Yawitz Wedding, Melrose Market Studios, Seattle, oil painting, 24 x 30
When I painted the holiday Jubilee at the WAC, I captured in the crowd a woman in a black and white chevron skirt. It was a bold print, and stood out clearly in the room, and in the painting. Someone recognized her in my scribbling, found her in another room at the party, and told her she was in my painting. She immediately came to see.
So, just a few months later, I painted her wedding.
Abby and Ben’s reception was at Melrose Market Studios, a renovated former grocery in a red brick and Douglas fir timbered 1927 building. This is classic Seattle.
It was a cozy family style affair, complete with darling blonde flower girls, dressed in white.

Flower girls and their mother, Yawitz Wedding (detail)