It was a pleasure to be invited to paint at Urban Unveiled for the third year in a row. The painting belongs to Jesse Brix and Travis Burney of True Colors events, which produces this hip
wedding show, featuring a fashion show by Luly Yang.
Painting the lobby of Seattle’s Benaroya Hall presents a challenge, to the nth degree, that I face in some measure at any wedding reception that runs into the evening. That is, I have to begin a painting during daylight, knowing that I will finish it after dark. All of my wedding and event paintings are a snapshot not of a moment in time, but a span of time over several hours. I have yet to try to depict both daytime and nighttime on the same canvas. I have to decide which it is, and almost always, it needs to be whichever comes later.
I always come to the venue a couple of hours before an event, and paint the room. Once the event begins, I can then focus on just painting people. But that means painting the grand lobby of this symphony hall in bright, south facing daylight. The people arrive as the setting sun colors the skyscrapers outside these four story glass walls with rapidly changing shadows, and then the ceiling dances with choreographed up-lighting, as the windows go dark and reflect the interior. From the very beginning, I paint in anticipation of this final lighting. At first, the window frames are dark lines against a bright background. But I know they will later become light lines against a dark background.
I know this because I’ve painted here before. But when I paint somewhere new, especially when it’s a destination wedding and I haven’t been able to scout out the place beforehand, I have to learn to look around and visualize with prescience. Always, even in familiar venues, I have to ask the planner what the lighting design will be— what will be dimmed, what will be accentuated.
Then, as everything changes, I take what comes, and paint from direct observation. It is the opposite of the perfection one seeks in studio painting. But the result is always something spontaneous, fluid, and irreplaceably unique.