I was back in Kinston this year for the annual plain air paint out. Last year my painting “Rainy Day in Kinston” had won the first place. The painting was sold and was the poster for this year’s annual Kinston BBQ festival. It had rained last year everyday of the paint out. So, I had painted sitting in my car. It was almost a repeat this year! first day the weather was storm but it cleared up. I painted “Gordon Street” in the morning. I had done one of my first paintings at the exact same location back in 2009. I was right near Chef & The Farmer. In the afternoon I headed to the Brothers Farm in La Grange NC. Kinston CCA has added this location as part of the paint out. Over the years, I have enjoyed working with Kinston CCA team. They are very helpful and make artists feel at home. Brothers Farm is full of painting subjects! Many old structures, tractors, pigs, chickens and sunny bits. I had limited time so I decided to paint open view from the farm. This was an oil and I used custom primed linen. I returned next day to the torrential rain. So, here I was again painting from my car! I had always wanted to paint the Heritage Street just to capture those poles and wires! This painting ended up winning the second place. The contest was judged by artist John Poon. I was back in Raleigh so missed the judging and awards ceremony. Couple of my paintings are still available with Kinston CCA. I plan to be back in 2017…
I have been painting beautiful town of Southport for few years now. The town invites artists to plein air paintouts and wet-paint sales every spring and fall. I have enjoyed painting this quaint town and am thankful to many art patrons who have purchased my original paintings. This year, I did two watercolors and one oil. I did oil painting on Friday and watercolors on Saturday. The oil painting sold on the same day and watercolor sold at the Wet-paint sale. This year, I decided to change locations and compositions of my paintings. I have always painted water and boats- so, Bay Street painting was a definite change! It is possible that I may be doing a live wedding painting at the Gazebo next year!
Lately, I have been making custom surface for my oil paintings. I usually paint on oil-primed linen. And now I apply titanium or lead ground to make a smoother and less absorbent surface. This makes a marked difference for all prima and plein air work. I haven’t settled on the ideal surface for my watercolors yet. I usually do plein air work on rough surface. Southport watercolors above were done on cold-pressed surface. I very rarely use hot-pressed surface for pen air work. I stick with Arches most of the time and sometimes Saunder’s Waterford. When I paint figures and nudes during my life drawing/ painting sessions, I use many different varieties. More on that later…
Wrightsville Beach Paintings from the recent plein air paint out. The paint out was hosted by the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History. This was a two day long plein air event, followed by a Wet paint sale. This was the first paint out for the Musuem and it turned out to be a real success. Around 30 artists participated and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Congratulations and many thanks to Madeline Flagler and the team. You can read more about this event in the Lumina News.
Wrightsville Beach is one of our family favorites for vacations and short trips. My son Ian loves playing in the surf there. I have done his studio paintings on the beach, but, this was my first time painting en plein air there.
I made six paintings during the paint out. Originally, I had planned to do couple of oil paintings, but, ended up doing only watercolors. Which was great- I was able to move around and capture different places as well as different light. I love boats so had to get those in! I painted from the South Channel Park, Wynn Plaza, and Johnnie Mercer’s Pier. All I did was paint! From first thing in the morning till the light faded and I no longer could see! I enjoyed meeting many new artists and art-lovers who had stopped by.
Two of my pantings are on the display at the Museum along with works of other fine artists. These pantings will be on sale there till December. Please contact me to purchase originals or prints.
From the warm weather of the Wrightsville Beach I had headed to fall weather in Galax VA following weekend. Those paintings coming next…
I finally had my opportunity to paint live at the beautiful Oaks at Salem in Apex NC! I have known owner April Maness for awhile. In fact, when I had painted my first ceremony painting at the All Saints Chapel in Raleigh, April was the photographer for that wedding. I did not have the opportunity to meet Allie before the wedding. What a beautiful bride! Joslin Rodely (Director of Event Coordination) was very helpful and I enjoyed working with her.
I arrived before the ceremony. It was a beautiful day. The cloud cover kept changing while I painted the background, but when the ceremony started, it was gorgeous! Allie had wanted the Oak tree in the painting so I used horizontal composition. This was an 18×24 oil painting on linen (canvas). I painted the background before the ceremony. When the ceremony started, I made several reference sketches in pencil. I used those sketches for reference when finishing the panting. I took some photos to check details later, but, most of my painting was done from the life and memory. I sketch a lot. I carry sketchbook, pencil and painting supplies with me most of the time. And I sketch at every opportunity (there are no shortcuts to painting live!). After the ceremony, I continued to work on the painting. It was time to add all the figures. Once that was done, I applied finishing touches. Allie and Tyler were very happy with the painting! So, Joslin and I set it up on a display easel for the wedding guests to enjoy. A beautiful live painting- started and finished at the wedding!
I traveled to Southport,NC this weekend to participate in their semi-annual Paint Out. We arrived in Southport on Friday evening, a few minutes after 6pm. We went to a lovely reception and met a few friend, and then I went off to paint while my family explored the area. I found a spot in the marina where I could paint these boats, and it was a beautiful sunset…….
Morning came quickly and so did the gnats! I went back to my spot from the night before and found that there was more to capture.
The afternoon came quickly, but I was able to complete one other painting before lunch and sketch my last painting of the day.
The sale started at 3pm, and we sold all 4 paintings that I did in the Paint Out. I was thrilled to have so many new faces stop by but also to connect with other artists that I have known for years and new artists as well. It was a very well organized event and I am very thankfulto Cindy Brochure for putting this event on in such a beautiful place.
From my recent trip to Asheville NC. I love Asheville! I had done live wedding painting there recently. And also photo sessions in the surrounding area. Simply beautiful. I did this painting while on a trip with my wife. She was photographing AENC’s annual meeting. One evening we went to the downtown. It was busy! I loved the energy of that place. Needless to say, I will be painting cityscapes and street scenes of Asheville downtown.
When painting mountains, Thomas Moran comes to mind. I admire his brilliant oil and watercolor landscape paintings. His drawings are amazing as well. We are fortunate to have one of his seascapes in North Carolina Museum of Art. While his paintings are breathtaking to look at, artists like myself always get amazed by his techniques. Many of his oil paintings are on large-scale and perfect in every way. How did he achieve those results? Only life-long dedication to art will hopefully provide answer to that question…
This is my second wedding painting of the beautiful All Saints Chapel (Raleigh NC) in last few days! Last week I had painted Ashley & Chris’s wedding live there. Kathe and Todd’s painting is a studio commission. I used reference photos to create this painting. However, the painting is not a copy of photo! I looked at many images to create the composition that best captures beautiful wedding ceremony. Once I had worked out the composition, I made a very detailed pencil drawing. I painted in multiple sessions and finished the painting in many layers. This is different from when I paint live at the weddings. When painting live, I have to work quickly. So, although there are layers of paints, brush strokes are more important when painting live. My aim is simple: to create a beautiful painting that is one-of-a-kind and that captures the story.
While I love painting live, studio commissions are important as well. There are occasions when I am not available to paint live, or the wedding happened in the past.
Next month I will be painting live at the North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh NC. That will be live oil painting of a first dance…
One of my first live wedding paintings was at the beautiful All Saints Chapel in Raleigh. That was a watercolor painting of ceremony back in 2009. So, this historic chapel is very special to me! And I was excited to be commissioned by Ashley’s parents to paint live there again. This was a live wedding painting commission of ceremony in oil.
I arrived at the Chapel early to start painting. I setup in the balcony. It was quite uplifting to paint the Chapel. A century old historic venue. Having earlier access to Chapel allowed me to finish painting the background. Here is my painting in the earlier stage:
Once the ceremony started, I made pencil sketches for my reference. It was a beautiful ceremony with very large wedding party! I sketched 21 people to include in the painting. The other ceremony with such large wedding party was when I had painted Rod & Amy Brind’amour’s wedding. One of the questions that I get asked often is if I paint from the photos. The answer is- no. A painting is different from photograph. Hence, I paint from life and rely on my reference sketches. I do take photos as kind of insurance and to check important features. But, my aim is not to copy photographs. This is true even for my studio commissions. Here is a sketch I made during the ceremony and later used as a reference for my painting:
Once the ceremony was over, I went over to The Stockroom. This was the reception venue. So many talented vendors had worked to make it look amazing! I love Raleigh downtown. I have done many plein air and studio paintings of Raleigh downtown. So, I especially enjoyed view from The Stokroom windows. I setup near a window to finish the painting. I worked from my references and memory to paint the wedding party. Many guests were able to stop by and look at the painting. Here is my painting, almost finished:
Once the painting was finished, I presented it to Ashley’s parents with help of Shawn Schindler of Your Special Day Weddings & Events. It was a pleasure working with Shawn! We have worked together before, but, this was my first time painting at one of her weddings. Ashley’s parents loved the painting and approved it for presentation to the couple. The finished painting was displayed for wedding guests to admire. Here is the finished painting:
This painting was pure oil. I do not use acrylics or any other mediums to dilute oil paints. I do not use toxic materials. I use artist-quality materials and supports. Professionally framed and carefully displayed painting should last for many decades. The same is true for my watercolors. Since I offer live painting in both oils and watercolors, clients often ask me which one is my favorite. The answer is- both! Oils are a traditional medium. Medium of old masters. Watercolors are unique in their own way. Both mediums offer excitement and challenges. It is a personal choice.
Another question I get asked is: if I accept studio commissions that are done from the photos. The answer is – yes. If you are already married, or are not able to secure my live wedding painting service, please know that I do accept studio commissions. I work from reference photos to create the paintings. In fact, I am currently working on a watercolor commission of another All Saints Chapel ceremony!
I am hoping that my process above will help you understand my pricing. A good painting is not an accident! My aim as a full-time visual artist is to create paintings that my clients will treasure forever. I approach each live wedding painting as a commission rather than pure entertainment. I do my homework, and use the best materials. I spend hours working on each live commission. And I create paintings that my clients will proudly display and enjoy everyday. This is not an expense but investment in creating a unique memory of your very special day…
This was a special commission for many reasons. The venue was beautiful Camp Wayfarer in Flat Rock NC (outside of Asheville). I was commissioned by Ashley’s parents to paint the first dance in watercolor. I thank Amy Wood and Shay Brown of Shay Brown Events for introducing my service to the Strickland family. This was also my birthday weekend and I got to spend it doing what I love- painting!
This was going to be an outdoor wedding. But, the weather turned South so, ceremony and reception took place inside dining hall of the Camp. I arrived couple of hours ahead of the reception to set up. The venue was setup for the ceremony. I love those flags and chairs!
After the ceremony was over, the hall was transformed into reception venue. I found a spot that will give me the best composition and set up my easel.
There was a change in the schedule- the first dance took place later in the reception. So, I kept on painting. I keep my painting setup and process flexible. It was cold! And it was raining hard outside, raising the humidity. Being a plein air artist, I enjoy the challenge of painting on location. Every element makes location paintings special.
I sketched Ashley and Ben’s first dance in pencil. I make sketches and then use those as reference for my paintings. I also sketched wedding guests enjoying the first dance. Below is the first dance sketch which I made in few seconds.
I had approximately an hour to finish my painting. By now, the dance floor was open. Everyone was having a great time dancing to the live band. I kept on painting next to the dance floor. Many guests stopped by to look at the painting-in-progress. Once the painting was finished, Amy Wood of Shay Brown Events helped me present it to the Strickland family. Bride loved her painting! And that is my ultimate reward. I matted the painting and it was displayed on an easel.
Back home, I am working on a studio commission of Kathe & Todd’s All Saints Chapel ceremony. That will be a watercolor painting. And another live painting commission this weekend: Ashley & Chris’s wedding ceremony. That will be an oil painting and another All Saints Chapel ceremony! What more can an artist ask for…
Finally the spring has arrived in Raleigh! That means more plein air painting! I love cold weather too. But, I get busy during winter time and rarely get to go out and paint. Most of my work in winter is done in studio and at night. April is also the start of wedding painting season for me. So, I take every opportunity to paint from life. North Carolina State Fairgrounds is a busy place. I have done paintings of NC State Fair. But, not en plein air. I like the energy and excitement of this place! While I like the front of the main building, it mostly has cars parked in the front and not much happening. So, I painted this Antique market on Sunday. It really was busy! The weather was beautiful. I did not have my easel so I just sat on a bench and painted this in couple of hours. I may return with my easel so I can paint different views on bigger scale.
My work is currently on display at the Art of Style in Brier Creek, Raleigh. There will be an open house there this Saturday 3-5 PM. I also hope to do a painting or two that day for Local Color Raleigh’s annual plein air paint out. And after the open house, I am scheduled to be at the All Saints Chapel downtown for doing a wedding painting! Because of the schedule of the church and the ceremony, I won’t be able to complete the painting on location. My plan is to start painting at the Chapel and then finish it offsite. My very first live wedding painting was at this chapel! So, I am excited to see how much I have grown as an artist and as a live wedding painter since…