Saturday, May 19, 2018

Wedding Landscape

In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to do a small watercolor at a wedding near Cashiers, NC.  That turned into an interesting experience.  Cashiers is in a spectacularly beautiful region high in the mountains of southeast North Carolina.  The area is filled with golf courses, vacation homes, and seasonal businesses.  The couple getting married had asked me to do a small watercolor of the setting for their wedding.  It wasn't to include the bride, groom, or other wedding participants.  I told them that I could do a plein air landscape and have it matted for them during the reception.

Once I arrived at the site, I saw why they wanted the location.  It's a place called Lonesome Valley, which I learned is the largest box canyon east of the Mississippi.  The valley floor was lush with the early-spring light greens of the trees, while the canyon walls to the northeast were sheer granite walls hundreds of feet high.  Wow!  I set up in a place where the wedding guests could come by to see what I was doing, while still giving me a clear view of the valley and the granite walls.  When I started, it was a beautiful day.

That changed.  The wedding was scheduled for 5 pm, but at 4:30 some thick clouds rolled in.  I checked the weather radar and, of course, there was a single cell of rain coming right towards us.  Just before 5, it opened up.

I took down my easel and quickly relocated to the shelter of the reception hall to finish up the artwork.  The rain eased up and the ceremony went off a half hour late.  Not too bad, considering.  The bride, groom, and guests all seemed to love the artwork ... at least, I had lots of questions and compliments on it.  So here's the finished work:

The good people at Lonesome Valley said that they welcome artists to come paint the valley.  I'm not a landscape artist, but this is definitely a place I'd like to go back to and paint!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Wedding Season

The spring wedding season is on us and I've been busy.  On Saturday, April 21st, I went to Cary, NC (outside Raleigh) to do a live wedding painting for a wonderful young couple.  A week later, I was in Pilot Mountain, NC (north of Winston-Salem) to do another live wedding painting, this time for the owner of the venue.  The next weekend, I was at the Biltmore, here in Asheville, to do a live painting of the first dance at the reception for another young couple.  This coming Saturday, I'll be doing a small watercolor at a reception near Cashiers, in southwest North Carolina.

That's a lot of painting!

So, are the first three done yet?  No.  The first one is very near completion.  I'm making small changes to bring the overall finish up to where I'm comfortable with signing it.  Two or three days of work and I think it'll be done.  The second painting is about midway there, but it has a long way to go.  The third is still at the starting line: it has a rough block-in done at the reception, but that's it.

Every painting is different.  It has its own personality, it has its own things it wants to say, and it comes together in its own unique way.  The first of these paintings has been very cooperative from the get-go.  It has a very formal structure and things naturally fell into place.  It seems like my job has been to make sure all the details are executed properly.  The second painting is a bit more exuberant and lively.  I feel like it needs some guidance and creative suggestions to bring out the best in it, but it really wants to come to life.  The third?  It's been fighting me since the first marks on paper, even before the paint.  Everything has been a struggle: the composition, perspective, placement of the bride and groom, the lighting, the selection of photos to use for their poses, color, everything.  However, by the end of the reception, the painting started to come together, and I have a plan for how I want it to develop.  But since paintings are living things, and this one seems to have a rather independent mind, it may go in an entirely different way.  We'll see.

And NO, you can't see any progress photos.  Sometimes making a painting is like making sausage: the process is ugly but the end result is delicious.

So I'm off to the studio to sling some paint.  I'll post photos of the completed paintings when they're done.