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, June 5, 2012

The Peterson-Clawson Wedding, Alderbrook Resort, Hood Canal

I really should start offering an Alderbrook package deal. This venue was the first place I ever painted at a wedding, almost eight years ago. I love coming back here, especially when my wife and I get to stay over.
Being in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains, one has to plan for a rain contingency. I brought an extra canvas, just in case I might have to start over completely in the ballroom. But as I set up my easel on the lawn at about 3:00 p.m., the clouds began to scatter, and the sun came through the trees. The yard umbrella, provided for me by a thoughtful catering manager, became a parasol.
 The peak of Mount Washington still trailed clouds, and the mile wide Hood Canal was as flat as a lake. A harbor seal dove for shellfish in the shallows (he’s represented only by a ripple in the painting.) A row of yachts moored along the dock. The children spotted a family of raccoons high in a Douglas Fir tree, and I eventually painted the critters chasing the flower girls and ring bearers across the lawn. I painted the landscape, the lawn, and the tent set up for cocktails first. But the people were all behind me, where lounge chairs surrounded a fire pit. Photographs were being taken, conversation was warm, and they could watch me painting, instead of me watching them. But at 5:00 p.m. the D.J. called them to cocktails, and they moved down where I could see and paint them.
But all the while, the children ran on the lawn.
 I decided to place the couple front and center, dividing the ceremony from the cocktail hour in a symmetrical composition. After the wedding, the guests went into the ballroom for dinner, and the brides retired to the spa area for a respite before making their appearance to the ballroom. But before their entrance, they came back to the lawn and stood for their portraits for a few minutes. I usually manage this task late in the reception, and rarely get more than five or ten minutes with a couple before they get pulled away again by their guests. There were some complications with a bustle, and as the day-of coordinator pinned her up again, I got a luxurious fifteen minutes or more to paint their likenesses.
For the first time in all the years I’ve been painting weddings, I was done, and signed the painting, before dinner!
And then my wife and I enjoyed a relaxing weekend at a wonderful resort.
Please don’t tell the staff we fed crab to their cat. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Esselbach-Gwinn Wedding, Newcastle Country Club, Bellevue, WA

When I paint a wedding, one of my pleasures is the individuality and character of each couple, their event design, and the culture specific to their family and friends. This couple were part of Wazzu culture, the epicenter of which happens to be my hometown. I’ve painted at a few Cougar weddings. It was great to hear the WSU fight song again. (John Candy sang it in the movie ‘Stripes.’)
It’s also a pleasure to paint beautiful people, and this bride was so beautiful, it felt like a sacrifice to paint them on the dance floor instead of up close, where you could see her smile better. But the couple spent so much of the evening on the dance floor, it was quite appropriate to depict them there. These are the challenges of a wedding painter. Unlike a photographer, I’m creating just one image over the course of several hours. It is a montage of the event and the scope of its time, but depicted as a snapshot as if it all happened at once. Parents aren’t any easier to pin down to stand for a portrait, since they’re so happily mixing with their guests. But that’s why I stay ‘til the last dance, if need be. They’re here in front, as proud as they should be.
The venue was the Golf Club at Newcastle, perched a thousand or so feet above the suburbs of Seattle, almost in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, with one of the most spectacular views of any venue in the region. The ceremony, and later the dancing, were held on Prestwick Terrace, a tented pavilion of circus proportions. Dinner was inside the clubhouse, in the St. Andrews Ballroom.  I painted the tent before and during the ceremony, including the expansive view, while anticipating how the light would change as the sun went down. But it wasn’t until nine o’clock, when the guests came back from dinner, that I was able to begin painting people.
And that’s my favorite part.