Thursday, November 30, 2017

New Wedding Painting

Steven and Marissa
Oil on canvas, 24"x30"
(Click on the image for a larger view)

I just finished a new wedding painting commission for a wonderful couple.  Steven and Marissa asked me to do a painting of the first dance at their reception.  I went to the hotel (quite fancy) in Charlotte last month, set up my easel a couple of hours in advance, and continued to paint throughout the event.  And it was quite the event!  Steven, Marissa, and all their friends and family came to party.  Everybody had a great time, even me.  I was bopping away at my easel while the dance floor was jammed.  Just about everybody came over to see what I was doing, many of them quite frequently, and it was fun talking with them.  Some of the people in the final painting are there specifically because they came over to chat!  Yes, it was a great time.

Painting at a wedding is kinda/sorta like being an outdoor landscape painter in the middle of a hurricane.  Everything is changing and moving at high speed.  People come and go.  The noise level picks up and quiets down.  One minute nobody is around you, the next there are 20 people looking over your shoulder and asking questions.  All of which, really, made it fun.

And doing a live painting at a wedding reception builds on things I've done previously.  I started surreptitiously sketching other people many decades ago (don't ask) and have continued to draw and paint people ever since.  I work as a courtroom artist for our local TV station on occasion.  In Afghanistan, I sketched the locals during our frequent meetings, and all those drawings wound up in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington.  All of that was a great preparation for this line of work.

Some wedding artists give the couple the painting at the end of the event.  I can't, no way.  The first day just gets the basic idea down.  It takes a lot of work to go from the first very very rough painting to something that I'm ready to put my name on.  Over the past several weeks, I've continued to work on the painting, getting feedback from Steven and Marissa as well as my Primary Critic, my wife, who is NOT SHY about sharing her ideas.  That can sometimes be frustrating, but she's almost always right, or at least on the right track, so I value her opinion.  Finally, a few days ago, I got the thumbs-up from Janis and from Steven and Marissa.  Done!

So now I need to play catch-up on all the other artwork that's been waiting in the studio.  There are four or five pieces that are partially finished that each need another day or two.  I've had an idea in the back of my mind for a larger painting and even have the canvas stretched, toned, and ready to go, but haven't been able to get to it yet.  And I've been looking at two other artists whose work I want to study.  One is a new (to me) artist whose work is much more free and expressive than mine.  I want to study his work, reverse-engineer it to learn the process, and then see how much of that can be applied to mine. The other is an artist I've known of for some time.  I found a book of his in our local Barnes and Noble and want to go through some of the exercises and do some learning.  So: more to do than there is time to do it in.  Yep, I'm happy.

If you'd like to know more about my wedding paintings and how that process works, visit the website I built for it:  I think you'll enjoy it!

Monday, November 06, 2017

A Bit of Success

I had a bit of success this past week and wanted to share it here.  Two of my paintings were juried into the Grace Center's annual juried art exhibition.  They're very different paintings, although they are both figurative paintings about real people.  

Cinderella's Seamstress
Oil on canvas, 48"x48" 

Saddle Up
Oil on canvas, 50"x40"

I went to the opening reception on Saturday night and was blown away when both of them won awards.  Saddle Up got an Honorable Mention while Cinderella's Seamstress was awarded Best of Show!  Absolutely amazing.  There is a lot of really good work in the show, so I was happy just to be in it, but to have both pieces recognized like that is something out of this world.

I had a great time talking with some of the other artists as well as other art professionals.  One woman had a beautiful collage in the show that had so much to say in addition to being so wonderfully made.  We had a short conversation but I'm hoping to talk with her in more depth sometime soon as I'd love to have some insight into the way she puts her pieces together.  Something tells me that her basic process is not that different from mine, but the medium and end results are so very different.

The show will be up until the first week of January.  If you're in the Mills River area, I recommend stopping by to see it!