Editor’s note: Recently I caught up with Dianne Panarelli Miller, a Boston-based plein air painter who also happens to do live event paintings!
Dianne paints primarily at weddings, but she’s also available for pretty much any other social event where people want to see an artist working live, and have two original paintings made to commemorate the occasion.
Her original blog post about painting live was very intriguing, so I emailed her a few additional questions about her process, and she’s graciously allowed me to publish her answers, along with some excerpts from the original post below:
I have heard that it was Eva Longoria who came up the the concept of having an artist paint live at her wedding. Since then, I have seen more and more painters showing off their work from weddings.
My process is to go to the event early and paint in the scene that was previously designated by the bride or party that hired me. When the bride and groom arrive, I paint them in. I finish the painting in front of all the guests.
Once the ceremony is over I run over to to the reception and set up my gear to paint the first dance. I don’t need a lot of space, and since I use odorless turpentine, there is no odor to get in the way of the delicious food.
When the guests arrive, they see me working from a white canvas, quickly adding in the room’s details waiting for the moment when the bride and groom arrive and dance their first dance.
Q. What other must-have items do you generally take with you to paint? Is it a smaller setup than you normally work with?
I bring a string of lights to put around my easel so when the lights go down, people don’t trip over it. I also bring a light to be able to see my work. I shut it off when important photos are being taken.
I use a very nice black cloth to hang over my easel and hide my box for carrying everything. I bring a small easel to hang my framed piece I did at the ceremony so people can see it as I am painting in my second painting. But apart from that, everything I use is similar to my normal setup. I usually dress up too!
Q. Do you prefer to work inside or outside at weddings (if you have a choice)?
I will work where ever the work is. I have frozen a couple of times painting outdoors, but I manage.
I will say that this is not for the faint-hearted artist. It can be a long, hard day of very stressful painting. But it is not without it’s rewards. You have to be able to stand for long hours and be able to talk while you are painting. The lighting may not be good, the weather conditions can be challenging. You have to be ready for everything.
Q. Do you think this trend is still growing, or winding down?
This is definitely still a new trend. Every time I paint at an event, it is usually the first time anyone has seen this sort of thing. I usually get more work from it as well. It’s fun for me, too, because I can educate the crowd about painting as well as entertain them.
I don’t think it’s growing fast, but it is growing. You just have to be fast, and you have to be accurate as well as entertaining. It is really hard! I am usually dead for 2 days afterwards.
Q.How have you gotten the word out about your live event paintings?
I usually post my photos on Facebook after each wedding. That gets a lot of attention. I actually have my own Facebook page for my live wedding paintings, and I have a page on my website as well at www.diannepmiller.com.
I also paint at other live events and fundraisers. It is a wonderful way to educate people who would not ordinarily see an artist at work, so I make myself accessible to answer any questions they may have.
For the companies or organizations that hire me, it’s a great way to raise community awareness. And people are often inspired to donate more at a fundraisers if they have the chance to bring a beautiful piece of artwork home with them.
Q. Do you charge a fee for the day, or for the painting/s or just have one cost for both?
My fee is for the day. Sometimes people ask if I’ll just do one painting rather than two, in order to cut down on the cost, but in the end the work is the same, so I really can’t do that.
Being there all day, setting up, taking down. . . it’s hard to charge less. However, my prices are much lower than what I would normally charge for a painting of the same size because I am guaranteed the work. So they are getting a great price for the day anyway.
Special thanks to Dianne Panarelli Miller for being so willing to share about her wedding painting process. If you’re looking for a live event painter around Boston, please don’t hesitate to contact her!
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