Interview with a Live Wedding Painter: Insights from the Easel

Can you describe your artistic style and approach to live wedding painting? 

Sure, i would say my artistic style is ever evolving, but i try to capture the likeness of the couple and surroundings, but use larger strokes to maintain the brush details. I try and get looser with every wedding, and sometimes I’m really happy with the results, and other times i end up too refined again. But I would say my work is loose realism.  


How do you typically prepare for a live wedding painting event? 

I’ve got this down to a routine now, however before it was a little chaotic and i would find i had forgotten something at every wedding, whether a ruler, a phone charger, an attachment for the tripod and more stressful was forgetting my light and even my paints!  

But now i have a list, and once everything is loaded into the car, i go through the list and tick it off. With the lead up weeks, i go through all the invoices, make sure they’re paid. Double check all the travel arrangements if necessary. I then go over the info sheet to make sure its all filled out and order the canvas i need. The week of the wedding I collect the canvas or watercolour paper. Then the night before i double check the time of the wedding so i can calculate drive time. Morning of the wedding, I do my morning routine as normal, do some admin work and then an hour before I will get ready, pack the car and off i go. Its fairly stress free now.  


What equipment and materials do you use during the live painting process? 

I use different materials depending on whether they have choosen watercolour or acrylic.  

With watercolour, I use reeves 300gsm cold pressed watercolour paper, taped to a wooden board. I then use watercolour paints, pencils and white gouache. 

With my acrylic, I have a handmade canvas that my framer creates for each wedding. I then use Atelier, Jo Sonja and Matisse acrylic paints.  

I also have my French box easel, easel light, tripod with another phone for recording, and my main phone for capturing the footage. Thats pretty much it. Its an easy set up, which I like.  


How do you ensure that you capture the essence and atmosphere of the wedding day in your paintings? 

In terms of the actual pose, I take video footage which I can then playback to find the perfect moment which reflects the couple and the vibe of the ceremony. With light hearted weddings, I try and create a more energetic canvas, with the colours that best represent how the day felt. Other weddings may have a more moody feel or sparkly feel to them.  


Can you walk us through the typical timeline of a live painting session at a wedding? 

Sure. I’ll go through the Classic package for you, as that’ my most popular one.  

I start an hour before the ceremony and paint the base layer. I use orange, as it makes the colours pop, and it also happens to be my brand colours.  

I then go and take photos of where the couple will be when “the moment” happens. I paint this onto the canvas allowing for the area where the couple will be.  

Once the ceremony is finished, I start painting in the couple. A couple will usually take about 2 hours to paint, however this can be longer if the dress is elaborate.  

I then spend the remaining hours painting in the background, other guests if applicable and pets.  


What challenges have you encountered while painting live at weddings, and how do you overcome them? 

I’ve had the weather be too wet and cold, and my paint doesn’t dry, so its hard to work on it. When this happens, there is not much I can do, and I have to complete more of it back at the studio. I have been known to use the dryers in the toilets though. Other things have been the sun, making it hard to see the canvas or paint comfortably. Australian sun is very hot so this is a regular occurrence. I use a hat, try and find the shade of a tree and use a medium to stop the paint drying as fast.  


How do you handle requests or preferences from the couple regarding what elements to include in the painting? 

I’m pretty open to what they want to include. It is their painting after all. The only times I really go in another direction is if their preferences are not going to make the best painting, and I then go up to them at the wedding, tell them my alternative plan, and they always agree and give me the creative reins. You never know whether that dip kiss will actually look good on the day, or if the first kiss is better than the kiss at the end of the aisle, so I record it all and then make a decision after that.  


Have you ever had to adapt your painting style or approach based on the venue or lighting conditions at a wedding? 

No, not really. I have my own light, so that’s good. The only time I have struggled was painting a first dance in a reception that was just black walls with no decoration of atmospheric lighting. So I just made up some lighting to create a more romantic painting.  


Can you share any memorable experiences or stories from live painting at weddings? 

Probably the most memorable in a stressful way was when I turned up to a wedding 3 hours away and went to paint, and my paints weren’t in my bag! I had to ring around to local art shops and get them to deliver some to the wedding, before anyone noticed.  

My favourite experience was a Lebanese wedding I went to, where the guests were great, so much lively music and customs, food was amazing and the whole night was so fun. And I loved the painting too… so that was a awesome.  


How do you maintain focus and composure amidst the bustling atmosphere of a wedding celebration? 

Painting is very meditative. So once I’m painting, I’m fully absorbed into it and don’t even notice what’s going on around me. It’s why when guests come up to me, I jump a lot of the time. I get a fright from seeing them standing next to me when I’ve been in my own world! 


What do you believe sets your live wedding paintings apart from other forms of wedding photography or artwork? 

I think guest love seeing the different stages of the painting. You normally see a finished piece, so don’t really understand all the ugly fazes the painting goes through. Guests love seeing this, thinking I’m a really bad painter, and then seeing the painting transform and being blown away by how it changed so much in the process… It makes me smile. I also like to think im helping inspiring creatives feel more confident about their own work when its looking a bit dodgy.  


How do you ensure that the couple is satisfied with the final painting? 

I put all my energy and love into the painting. Thats all i can really do. They booked me after seeing my portfolio, so they know what to expect, and as long as i put positive energy into their work, I’m happy.  


How do you manage time constraints during a live painting session to ensure completion within the designated timeframe? 

I have set points in the timeframe that i know what i should be painting. 1 hour for set up, 2 hours for couple, 2 hours for background, 1 hour for extras. I then go back and edit everything after the event to catch anything I’ve missed, change things I’m not happy with, varnish and frame. 


What advice would you give to couples considering hiring a live wedding painter for their special day? 

Do it!!! It’s an amazing experience. Guests absolutely love it and you end up with a gorgeous painting of your special day which you can cherish forever.