Sketching a Wedding
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.
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Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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