I sketched a wedding last night. I've done maybe four of these ever, but it always touches me to be a small part of such a special occasion. I do all of these live and on site, which takes a lot of concentration. There are no do-overs, and I always end up with some that weren't what I had hoped, but for this wedding, I'm pleased with 12 of 15, and that's not a bad ratio at all for an event where the principals are all in almost constant motion.
When I do this, I show up early. I love sketching the bride and her mother or sisters or friends interacting during the fastening of the dress. Here's it's the mother (in purple) doing up the back and the sister fastening her pearls.
A couple of other early sketches were the bride in her kimono as everyone gathered to dress and the dress itself hanging on the shaker rack.
I carried four watercolor pads, two 7x10 and two 6x8, so I could grab the next while the sketch I just finished was still drying. I used my water brush while we were all moving around before the service, but for the more finished pieces during the wedding (well, ones with backgrounds, anyway), I set myself up in a just-behind-the-family pew and poured out a few palette cups of water next to me and got my bigger paint set out. (It's still a modest-sized travel one.)
People hold slightly more still during the photo sessions, and that extra time gives me longer with the principals in front of me, so I sketch during the photo taking when I'm sketching a wedding. That also lets me warm up and get a sense of the people in my brush before the do-or-die service time.
The bride had told me that the most important thing to her for me to capture (aside from the obvious scenes) was a sketch of her parents walking her down the aisle together. That moved very quickly, but the photographer was not allowed in the sanctuary during the worship service, so I wanted to try. I warmed up on a flower girl and then did the family.
That's the full set of 15 sketches in about 3 1/2 hours. I did a tiny bit of touch up on 4 or 5 of them when I got home and looked at them in better light, but mostly these were done live and on site. I don't work well from photos, and I prefer drawing what's in front of me to staring at a screen at my work table. I was overall pleased with how these came out, which is really all I can ask for, given that people are not my primary focus in my work.
I sketched another wedding last weekend, this one in my home church. I began before the ceremony, doing a full view of the sanctuary that I could add to as the ceremony began. So the main watercolor I have for them is the overview.
I did stay during the photos afterwards, though, and did a number of much quicker sketches as well. It was special to get to be a part of the celebration for a family I've known all my life.
It was a sketching sort of day. I met with one group of sketchers first thing (haven't gotten that one scanned in yet) to draw a lovely garden. Then I went straight on to the regular monthly Memphis Urban Sketchers group down at a funky indoor flea market in my neighborhood. It's fun to sit around and sketch with a group, and Judi Munn, a potter I admire and a friend who lives in Arkansas, was here with the potters guild show this weekend and managed to join us for an hour or so. It's fun to draw more people in to the idea of group sketching.
I often use the urban sketcher meetings to try things I don't normally in the course of my regular work. Today I kept playing with waterproof ink and watercolor, and in the second one, I left the foreground black and white, only adding color to the landscape out the window. That was the bit I was really drawn to.
This evening I sketched my third wedding, but I'm rushing to get out of town again (it looks like I'll be gone about every other week for a while), so I haven't scanned any of them in yet. It was neat to get to be a part of such a special occasion, and esp
I sketched my second wedding on Saturday. It's a kind of frantic thing to do -- I worked during the preparations and the photo sessions, and everyone was moving around quite fast. I ended up doing 22 rapid watercolors in about two and a half hours. The bride and groom posed a few minutes longer for me to finish the top one, which I was quite pleased with. All the others were even quicker and more calligraphic, but it was fun to catch the changing kaleidoscope of the day. It was also very special to be right at the heart of such a joyful, momentous day, and I appreciated the family inviting me into their midst.
Above are the couple with the groom's children. His daughter again and her niece and nephew are below, along with the bride's mother fastening her into her dress and the groom waiting for his first view of his bride.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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