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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Grooms of June at the Fairmont Olympic

The Victor-Barnes Wedding, The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle
TheFairmont Olympic Hotel is the grandest old hotel in downtown Seattle, housed in an Italian Renaissance edifice with marble clad lobbies, Corinthian columns, and vast, ornate ballrooms. The Garden Room is the centerpiece of these gathering spaces, with double height windows rising above the hedges of the motor court.
The gentlemen who chose this place to exchange their vows are lovers of the arts, and I was pleased to have been among the evening’s artistic offerings.
Upon entering the lounge, guests lined up to have custom poetry written on the spot by Typing Explosion, a performing trio in the guise of mid-century secretaries. The nostalgic song of their typewriters was accompanied par excellence by the Seattle String Ensemble, and dancers emerged from the shadows, choreographed by Rainbow Fletcher.
The grooms with flower girls
At the end of the cocktail hour the violins went down, and the convivial voices rose. But suddenly the crowd hushed, as Jennifer Krikawa, an operatic soprano, began—mezzo piano— to call them to form a ribbon- lined aisle.   She sang from both the standard opera repertoire and Broadway show tunes. I got a little verklempt at Somewhere There’s a Place for Us from West Side Story; later a Mezzo joined her for the famous Flower Duet from the opera Lakmé, by Delibes.  As an avocational tenor myself, I was in heaven.  
During dinner the grooms and their flower girls found time to stand for quick portraits, and the painting was done by the time the dance troupe returned to pull them onto the dance floor with white feather boas.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Puget Sound Bank’s 10th Anniversary Party

 A live painting is a great commemoration for any memorable event, be it a wedding or a cocktail party. This occasion was the tenth anniversary of Puget Sound Bank, held at the Bellevue (Washington) Hyatt. The Chairman of the bank is front and center in the painting, as is his wife. But many other figures in the painting turned out to be more important connections than I knew, when simply sketched what I thought to be a great face. I guess that’s what happens when the right people come to a party!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Duval-Kipferyl Wedding, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago

The Duval-Kipferyl Wedding, 4th Presbyterian Church, Chicago

This bride is the last of three siblings whose weddings I’ve painted. I did one in SantaBarbara, one in Cabo San Lucas, and finally one in the family’s home town of Chicago.
Chicago, the Windy City, the City of Broad Shoulders, is in my view also a city of big pictures. The sprawling picture one sees of the city from the Signature Room of the John Hancock Center (95th floor), where I presented the painting at the family brunch, is enormous. And it goes without saying that The ModernWing of The Art Institute of Chicago, where the couple celebrated their reception, is famous for big pictures. But the place the bride chose for me to paint her picture was the front of the Gothic church where they tied the knot.
 On a not too breezy afternoon in May, I set my easel in the middle of the median on busy Michigan Avenue, just behind a planter full of blooming tulips. Traffic moves slowly here on a sunny Saturday, and passing cars, taxis, police, and even a the driver of a tour bus rolled down windows to ask questions, joke about being included in the painting, or take my business card.
The prominent and famous Fourth Presbyterian Church has a grand and ornate façade. The afternoon sun moves behind it, dazzling the steeple and turning the ivy into a green halo. But this does not leave the front of the church in shadow. Shafts of light reflect off of the landmark Hancock Tower across the street, beaming back onto the golden stone in a calico mosaic.
The couple on the stairs
I painted until the wedding began, then carried my easel across the street and set up outside the door. At the end of the ceremony, the wedding party lined up on the steps, and the guests spilled out onto the street. Lastly the couple themselves showed in the doorway, and kissed to the applause of the crowd. It was here that I whisked out an impression of their embrace.
They then disappeared for photographs, and the guests boarded trolleys for the reception. After their time with the photographer, the couple came back to the steps to model for me. But with the exception of a few brushstrokes, I was already done. For once, I got to attend the reception as a guest!

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