So what is your job?
“I am a Wedding and Live Event Painter. Which sounds made up to most people! I show up about two or three hours before an event, get my easel, paints, and blank canvas set up, and get to work! Before guests arrive I loosely have the room painted in, but by the end of the night the painting is finished and I have painted the entire event in one frame!”
How did you get started?
“I was painting full time in a studio called The Artpost and a wedding venue in Austin, The Allan House, got in touch with me about doing a “live event painting” at one of their open house events. I had NO CLUE what that was. But was like, I need to eat so yeah I’ll do it! Turns out it was really fun, definitely challenging, but guests loved to watch the progress of the painting throughout the night!”
How does an event day start for you?
“So normally I’m traveling early that morning to the venue. so this first half of the day is typically always traveling. I get to my hotel, change into my “uniform” which is just black leggings a black top and my black apron. I have literally worn the same outfit every Saturday for 4 years. That has got to be some sort of record right?”
At the Venue
“Typically that is around 2-3 hours before the event actually starts. I’ll find the most convenient place for me to set up and I’ll start getting to work. The couple of hours before guests arrive are always some of my favorites. At the beginning there are a lot of people tying up loose ends, finishing up the floral arrangements, setting the tables.”
What happens during the setup that you capture?
The collective effort
“I always wish the bride and groom could see this part because everyone is working so hard to make the night perfect for them, and even though most people working the event don’t personally know the people getting married, everyone is genuinely so excited to be a part of their special night. The florists are telling the band they sound good, the band is telling the servers that the candles they lit and tables they set look perfect, the servers are talking about how beautiful they bet the bride will look… It is typically such an encouraging group of genuinely kind and extremely hardworking people and it is an honor to work along side each of them!”
What about at the event itself?
It’s a party!
“Okay, then everyone gets there! I always end up best friends with a flower girl, ring bearer, or someones grandpa… all of whom I love chatting with! Each night is filled with interesting people and unique conversations. At the end of the night the painting is done! I try to finish around 45 minutes before the event ends so people have the opportunity to get up close and look at the details! (And also so I can snag a piece of cake and a healthy glass of wine!) I pack up, snap a photo, leave the painting with the planner, and head out!”
What is your painting process?
It starts off with thought
“I think the most important part of painting is thinking about painting. That might sound weird but it helps me tremendously. The week before and especially the morning of a painting I just think about it. I look at a million paintings throughout the week by other artists and study what worked, what didn’t, how they approached certain elements of painting.”
What is the most rewarding part?
The fly on the wall feeling
“It is an amazing feeling to see two of your friends get married. Like, you know they love each other and you are so grateful they have found each other, and you love celebrating with them. That is a great feeling. But there is something about watching two people who you really don’t know at all get married to each other. Its not greater or less than celebrating with friends it’s just a different kind of rewarding. There is something about being at a giant party filled with strangers, no one you authentically know, and you can just tell that all of them are so happy this bride and groom have promised to love each other forever; that everyone is so excited to set aside whatever they are going through for the night because they are eager to celebrate because know these people’s love is important… It is such a hopeful feeling to be a fly on the wall at these events and just observe people wearing genuine joy and love for the people around them.”
What is the funniest thing that has happened while you were painting?
The cake kid
“A couple weeks ago the ring bearer ran up to me and was like “GUESS WHAT!” and I said “What?!?!?” and he said “I burped on EVERYTHING!..both cakes!!!” and I was horrified. haha (I did not eat the cake that night but heard it was still great!)”
The Jiu-Jitsu Man
“Another time there was this guy who stood next to me pretty much the entire night doing karate moves. Which was VERY entertaining. at the end of the night he said “Your painting is awesome!” and I said “No, your karate moves are awesome!” and he looked at me dead serious and goes “umm…i was doing jiu-jitsu.” and honestly he’s probably my favorite person I have ever met.”
Why is documenting a wedding important in your opinion?
“I think photographs and videos are so important to have at a wedding. Gosh I look at the photos from my wedding like ever other day. With wedding painting though it is one painting, capturing the entire event in one frame. The people, the decor, and the energy in one painting. It is the entire wedding day wrapped into one split second moment forever captured in one painting. I painted one for my husband and I and i have it hanging in our hallway. Every time I pass it I briefly relive pretty much our whole entire love story in a split second. It is a good reminder that our love and life together is— and I know this is probably the cheesiest most cliche thing I has ever said but— truly a work of art.”
What do you want people to know about your job?
“All of my life when I’ve said “I want to paint when i grow up” to now when i say “I paint for a living” I don’t think people initially take me seriously. I remember when I first got out of college people would ask me what my profession was and I would tell them and they would say “okay but what do you really do??” Who says that?!?! a lot more people than you would think. For the people who know me it is never an issue, all of my friends and family are my biggest cheerleaders! But I guess what I wish people knew was that the people who are genuinely out there making art for a living are out there [are doing so] because it is important and necessary and because that is their purpose and the desire that God has placed in them. It is something they work very hard at.”
Check out Kelsey + Logan’s wedding film to see a clip of a live painter in action!
A huge thank you to Hannah for letting us interview her for this blog post! Her work is absolutely amazing and is a great addition to include any wedding plans! Hannah’s work can be found online at her website hannahleeart.com and on her instagram @hannahleeart!