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Live Painting at The Vineyards in Simi Valley

I always arrive early on the big day. The challenge for this event at The Vineyards was apparent in that we would be capturing a 24"x30" oil painting within a 4 hour biggest canvas option for live weddings. My game plan going in was, capture the couple and we will be golden.

In the past, I would try to work around the painting as much as possible. This meant I was trying to fill in from one corner all the way to the next throughout the event to achieve as much layering and the feeling of completion. As I continue to do more and more live events, I have switched my game plan towards achieving accurate paint strokes down as early as possible.

Composition is so important to creating a piece that will look appealing to the eyes of the viewer. I had full creative reign on this piece and scoped out the venue for the best spot. The ceremony alter stood out right away with its secluded area, with a staircase leading up to a stage for the couple. The alter was decorated with lovely floral arrangements from atop of the wooden structure. I got plenty of reference shots as the arrangements were being placed from a multitude of angles to find the best lighting presence.

Test angle reference central right.

Test angle reference from left.

Left reference shot that I used.

I landed on my winner in the center here. at this point, it was 4:00 pm and the wedding ceremony was going to be taking place at 5:00 pm. I had enough visualized to know the sun would be roughly in a similar setting coming down over the tree line.

Rough sketch of composition

I also knew I would not be in the way standing at this corner taking reference shots up at the alter. It was time for me to get the design in place, which is so important for the piece overall.

In this picture (left) was a rough sketch of what we were looking to achieve. My main focus was sizing for the couple from the angle I would capture during the ceremony. I knew I would be placing the couple directly in the alter and would find a moment to use during the ceremony itself.

5:00 came around the corner and it was time to join the wedding party. As the ceremony progressed, I noticed the lighting was a bit harsh with the sun beaming down from over my lefthand shoulder. But, I was still waiting for our moment we could capture that would allow the bride and groom to both be recognizable and have a candid expression on both of their faces capturing their love.

Wedding couple in Simi Valley
Couple reference shot.

I had a pretty solid reference shot (right) from the angle I was looking for without harsh lighting, so I was ready to go. This meant placement was key. Obviously the background and the couple reference will not align my goal is to always make sure the following between my references:

  1. Are they the same angle?

  2. Is the lighting similar?

  3. Are the faces recognizable?

  4. Will the tones of the couple stand out when placed upon the background?

I can make the magic happen with the rest, including removing parts of the background that would not add to the final rendition of the piece.

If the event is shorter than my typical 6-8 hour live painting event and on a bigger canvas, I will prioritize the couple alongside the surrounding elements that we laid out in the design. This is because it is more entertaining for guests and the couple to see the couple come to life as opposed to waiting for multiple layers of the entire canvas to render out over the course of a night.

The ladder would involve a simplified couple and background that would be more foundational, yet, less appealing during the process. The former allows me to get more detailed earlier on the highest priorities and lay down the foundations of the corners later on. To see what I mean, here is the painting that I finished by the end of the light (Picture below).

Live wedding painting in progress
Wedding painting at the end of the night.

It almost would have been cool to leave the painting like this, right? But that is not up to the painter at a wedding so completion would be definitely be preferred lol.

You can see at the bottom of this picture I have not rendered out the greenery and lower portion of the staircase. At the top of the painting, I still had the sky, trees, and floral arrangements to work on.

That's where my studio edits really come into play. It is a win win for the guests, couple, and artist. We get the magic of a painting rendering out at the event itself, and I get some private time to analyze, assess, and make some final finishing edits.

Plus, I work in oil paints and do not expect others to know the handling while the paint sets in place immediately after the wedding. Who also wants to be responsible for a 24"x30" painting in a 28"x36x5" giant Uline box at the end of a wedding?

Alas, the studio edits begin and end within two months while I am working on multiple projects simultaneously. Depending on the distance away, we may do a drop off or ship the final piece. The couple gets the painting and I am so happy to see their reaction (Picture below)

Groom holding wedding painting.
John holding the finished piece.

Live wedding painting done in Simi Valley
Finished Simi Valley Live Wedding Painting.


Ryan Kindseth

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