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.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Colin Cowie Celebrations Wedding in The Hamptons

Andrea+Dan's Colin Cowie Celebration Wedding from Clark+Walker Studio on Vimeo.

The Latin phrase ‘ne plus ultra’ means something like ‘you can’t get any higher [than this].’ And since we don’t have actual royalty in America, Colin Cowie and The Hamptons are the highest one can go in the wedding industry.
Colin Cowie, of course, is the famous author, television personality, and designer of events and lifestyle from South Africa. In person he is remarkably charming, courteous (to all), unflappable, and deftly in control of every detail. I’ve been in the industry ten years, and now I’ve finally seen how it’s done.
Setting up to paint a 48 x 72 inch wedding painting
The Hamptons have been a playground for the rich and famous for at least a century, being as far east as one can go on land from New York City. Accessible by car in about three hours from the City on a Friday afternoon, or in fifteen minutes by helicopter, if you have one, the Hamptons are a group of villages that still position themselves as a sleepy backwater. But the shake-sided main streets of these villages— Southampton, Easthampton, Bridgehampton, Amagansett, SagHarbor, Montauk, et al— are filled as much with couture shops as chowder spilling taverns. Behind the dunes of the Atlantic beaches are queued some of the most opulent vacation homes in America. Summer jams the streets with Ferraris and SUVs topped with surf boards.
The reception and cocktail tents

Inland roll the green fields of equestrian estates and vineyards. And in such a vineyard in Sagaponack, in the second week of September, some large white tents were erected, topped with ribbon like flags sporting our clients’ logo-initials.
The up-lit vineyards at Wölffer Estates
The effortlessly meticulous team of Colin Cowie Celebrations corralled a circus of vendors, craftspeople, artisans, and specialists into the creation of a precision fantasy of rustic elegance.
My participation was a gift from the mother of the bride, a gregarious woman with outstretched arms who treated me, and my wife-assistant, as family. My easel anchored a corner of the magnificent reception tent, with a view of both the dance floor and the couple’s beloved up-lit grape vines. They are seen at left, through the moistened rain flaps of the tent.
The rain had been an expected possibility, and was met by Cowie’s people with hundreds of white umbrellas for the procession from wedding to cocktail tents.
Colin Cowie Celebrations magic.
Detail: the Flower Girls
As the black tie crowd crowded in from cocktails to the dinner tent, onlookers came to look at my six foot canvas and its unfolding panorama. Presently a father approached my easel with a three year old flower girl on his shoulders. She was curious, but tired and shy. I asked if she could pose for her portrait on the ground, but she wanted the security of her father’s arms. And this is why my wife makes such a great assistant: she sat on the white carpet, inviting the girl to join her in conversation. Both father and daughter descended to the floor and sat for a several minutes, as I hastily sketched the white skirted cherub. Her mother later provided a photo for me to paint the girl’s sister, who had reached her energetic limits before I was able to include her (I make this exception for children, and sometimes pets, but otherwise insist on painting from life).
The bride and groom were themselves captured on the dance floor, and so the bridesmaids were likewise painted in the distance— although they came over, in twos and threes, to stand for a likeness. This worked because of the size of the painting. At six feet wide and four feet high, figures in the middle distance— that is, the dance floor— were rendered four to six inches high. That’s about the size of figures in the foreground of my smaller paintings.
Detail of the couple, in progress. Left foreground: hydrangea and roses on a dining table
In this wall sized painting, some family members in the foreground were almost portrait sized. This included my client, the mother of the bride, and her mother. In this marvelous video (top) by Clark+Walker Studio, the bride’s grandmother reacts with surprise and joy at her depiction (1:26-1:32).
Sam Day painting the Hippeau-Vogel Wedding
A live event painting is as much a performance as it is a keepsake, and I enjoyed interacting with countless guests as they came over to my easel though out the night.
“I’ve never watched an artist paint before,” was a comment I heard repeatedly.
“You were a hit,” concluded a designer with the Colin Cowie team.
The Hippeau-Vogel Wedding,by Sam Day, oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Duval-Kohley Wedding, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Sam Day, Wedding Painter, with the happy couple and their painting.
This adventurous California couple do all the wild things, from kayaking over waterfalls to surfing the big waves. One of their favorite places to catch waves is at the Cabo Surf Hotel in San Jose del Cabo, at the southern tip of Baja California Sur, Mexico. (Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are known together as Los Cabos.)
 Their friends and families were happy to join them there for their wedding on the beach. The nuptials were held at sunset, of course, and as night fell, the dinner and reception were laid out on the terrace above the playa. The painting focuses on the couple, seated at the head table enjoying their toasts. They were delighted to have the largest part of the painting devoted to their mutual love: the surf. Photos courtesy of Pink Palm Photo.

At work in Cabo San Lucas

Duval Kohley wedding, detail of 24 x 30 inch oil painting

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Convention Party at Experience Music Project, Seattle

An evening at EMP, by Sam Day, 2014, oil on canvas, 24 x 30

   I guess if you haven’t been to EMP, this painting of hundreds of guitars takes some explaining.
  This year, the American Land Title Insurance Association chose Seattle for their annual convention, and after the usual meetings, came to the EMP Museum at Seattle Center to let their hair down.
   Experience Music Project is the brain child and pet project of Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, and was originally an homage to Jimi Hendrix— expanded to laud all popular music. It is now an exposition of all things pop culture. The museum is housed in one of the most infamous creations of architect Frank Gehry, a building as controversial as anything shown in the museum.  Its Sky Church concert hall, with one of the world’s largest indoor HD LED screens, was the center of our soirée. An incredible cover band played popular hits, decade by decade, from the 60s to the present.
  At the center of the EMP, towering over Jimi Hendrix (pictured in the lower left of my painting), is a sculpture titled If VI Was IX: Roots and Branches. The sculptor-composer is known as Trimpin, a MacArthur Genius who is kind of an extreme hybrid of John Cage and RubeGoldberg. It is an assemblage of about 700 instruments, including drums, brass, a few keyboards, and a big white bass viol. But it is mostly guitars, many of them donated by the great guitar makers such as Gibson and Fender. More than forty of these instruments were custom made to Trimpin’s designs, so that they play robotically as directed by his software. The title of the piece— If VI WasIX: Roots and Branches— refers to the origins and diversity of rock music. It is a massive tree; a whole forest, vibrating with color and majesty.
 This painting was given to the client’s outgoing chairman and his wife, who appear at the lower right of the painting with their friends.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Painting A San Ysidro Ranch Wedding, Montecito, California

The Savitt-Diamond Wedding, San Ysidro Ranch— oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches, by Sam Day

Forbes Magazine recently called this “America’s Best Hotel," but the San Ysidro Ranch has been familiar with such accolades since it became a resort in 1892. In its early years it became a darling retreat for a new industry: Hollywood. Winston Churchill brought his family here. John Huston wrote the screenplay for The African Queen here. Sir Lawrence Olivier married Vivien Leigh in this same garden. The Kennedys honeymooned here; a cottage is named for them. Jessica Simpson got married here this summer.
But it is not a place of glamour and glitter to the glitterati: it’s a place to get away from all that. Indeed, it seems like Eden. Originally deeded along with the Santa Barbara Presidio by King Charles III of Spain in 1780, and for much of the 19th century a working citrus ranch, the property still covers five hundred acres. Two hundred of those acres are meticulously gardened, with not a pebble out of place. (I know, I tried to look for one to weigh down the vase that held my brushes. I probably would have had to hike down to the creek to find one.) The forty-one cottages are secluded and homey, unostentatiously decorated with antiques, oriental rugs, and fine paintings. It seems every structure is covered by bougainvillea.
Detail of couple 
Though there are many separate gardens— from the Rose Garden to the Chef’s Organic Garden (plotted with traditional Spanish geometry, with a fountain in the center)— this couple were married on the main lawn behind the hacienda, between the pergola and the reflecting pool full of water lilies, under a chuppah laden with hydrangea and roses.
I painted from mid afternoon until the end of cocktails, just before the sun set. The bride and groom found a few minutes to stand for their portraits between photos and dinner at the Stonehouse Restaurant, a short stroll away. I then took the easel down to the Hydrangea Cottage, where the painting was displayed during dancing in the courtyard.
Adjacent to that structure, I relaxed in what became my favorite building on the property: the old faithfully restored adobe cabin, which dates to 1825.