Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Jason & Sarah Wedding Painting: It's A Start

On Saturday, I started another wedding painting.  This was for Jason and Sarah, a wonderful couple who wanted a painting of their ceremony.  More specifically, Sarah wanted a painting of the moment they started back down the aisle as a newly married couple.  This young lady had a very clear idea about the artwork that she plans on keeping for her entire life!

The wedding was held at The Ridge, which is an outdoor venue in Madison County, northwest of Asheville.  This is a spectacular location in the North Carolina mountains.  I gotta say, I was skeptical of the choice.  I mean, early March in this area is still winter.  But we were lucky: clear skies, slight wind, and temperatures in the low 50's - chilly but not cold.  I went out for a reconnaissance mission a couple of weeks in advance so I'd know where it was and to start thinking about how to compose the painting.  I also ran a recon mission to The Venue in downtown Asheville, where the reception would be.  The managers and staff there were great to work with and we quickly determined where I would set up and paint during the reception.

On the Big Day, I loaded up all my stuff at the studio and headed down to The Venue to set up.  Then it was back to the studio for a quick change to wedding-appropriate clothes before driving out to The Ridge.  I hooked up with the other staff and event people and got ready for the ceremony.  I had my camera with me to take a ton of reference photos to paint from later.  The ceremony itself went fairly quickly (fortunately so, since the temperature was starting to drop) and was quite beautiful.  So how many reference photos do I need to make one painting?  In this case, 228.  You can never have too many references.

The moment the ceremony was over, I hightailed it back to The Venue to get started.  The first thing to do was to go through the photos and identify the ones I wanted to use.  I found one primary and a couple of alternates for Sarah, and one primary and a couple of alternates for Jason.  The primaries were the ones that had the figures in the most expressive positions, while the alternates had specific details that I wanted to use.  Sarah and Jason's primary photos were different, but they were taken only a second or so apart - things change fast when the subjects are moving!  In addition to these reference photos, I wound up using quite a few others for various elements: the sky, distant ridge lines, flowers, bridesmaids, grooms' men, and so on.

So once the reference photos were selected, it was a matter of putting something together on canvas.  I approached this in pretty much the same way that I approach any alla prima painting: find the focus, go for the big shapes, and get some feeling or expression in it from the beginning.  Leave the details alone.  The difference between a studio painting and a live wedding painting, though, is that I'm doing all this with 150 people coming by to see how it's progressing!  That may sound stressful, but it's actually a lot of fun.  This was a very lively crowd and they had great responses and inputs.  And, as I heard later, I was all over SnapChat, with everybody snapping photos and posting them.

I painted all throughout the reception until it ended and everybody was shoo'd out the door.  Then it was time to pack up and take everything back to the studio.  I went in to the studio on Sunday to put everything away and get a clear look at the painting.  Actually, I think it was a good start.  So here 'tis:

If you click on the image, you'll see a larger version of it.

Now I have two to four weeks of work ahead of me.  I'll refine Sarah and Jason quite a bit.  Jason's head needs to shrink, for example.  The trick is going to be in developing the painting while not losing the liveliness of the brushstrokes and getting bogged down in detail.

I want to give some credit to some amazing professionals.  Mary of Mary Bell Events was the wedding planner.  This young lady was ORGANIZED.  As an old Navy guy, I really appreciate good organization, especially for something as complex and important as making sure a wedding and reception are successful.  Mary made sure this one went off like clockwork.  Trust me, that doesn't always happen.  I can't recommend Mary highly enough.  

The Ridge and The Venue, both owned and operated by Marta Santamaria, also did a great job.  They were very easy to work with and very professional in everything they did.  And they seemed to enjoy the wedding and reception almost as much as the guests.

Rachael of Rachael McIntosh Photography did a great job photographing everybody and everything while remaining low-key.  She and two other photographers were everywhere.  They knew how to work with the subject to draw out their unique personalities, while ensuring they, themselves, were never themselves a center of interest.  Take a look at Rachael's website - they take some beautiful pictures.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the ones from this wedding!

The band that played at the reception Cashmere, was amazing.  They played from 7 - 11 pm straight.  No breaks, and they were ROCKING the whole time.  I was bouncing along to them and I wasn't even in the same room!  They are definitely a high-energy band that knows how to get people off their chairs and onto their feet.

So, yes, I had a great time this past weekend.  And I'm going to be spending a lotta time in the studio over the next few weeks to get this painting done.  Stay tuned for updates and images!

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