When you think of adding a distinctive and personal touch to the ultimate modern wedding, what comes to mind? For some, it’s a unique venue or decor that’s particular to the couple. For others, it may be a quirky yet enchanting reception element, like a personalized guest book or centerpieces. If you ask Elise Jefferson what she’d recommend when you’re tying the knot, she’d suggest something completely out-of-the-box, yet so nostalgic it won’t feel too avant garde.
Jefferson is a live event painter, specializing in wedding ceremonies and receptions. In just a few hours, she’ll create an illustration of a truly special day in the midst of the event as it happens. To accompany their wedding photos and souvenirs, newlywed clients will receive a one-of-a-kind landscape painting of their ceremony and, if they so choose, their guests as well.
Over the past four years, the artist has expanded her skillset and network. She began painting and exploring art in high school, and was drawn to landscape painting early on. “Landscape painting was how I started painting,” she explained. “I originally started painting and learning the basics just by learning how landscapes work. Like, “what do shadows look like? What color should this tree be highlighted? How far away would this tree be based on how it looks?”
After graduation, Jefferson began to look to the future, but she didn’t jump into live event painting right away. In fact, she hadn’t even discovered it yet. While scrolling through Pinterest, she stumbled upon the concept of painting weddings as they happen, and was hooked. From there, she began to hone her skills by practicing with photos of weddings she found online, aiming to finish her paintings under the time constraints necessary for success in live event painting— specifically, four or five hours.
A day in the life of a live wedding painter— specifically, the day of a gig— takes Jefferson to the venue two or three hours before the ceremony or reception she’s been brought in to depict. Beforehand, she’ll gather details on the client, venue, and event itself, to gain a better understanding of just what she’ll encounter. Once on-site, she’ll paint the background elements, and she’ll add in guests as they begin to arrive a few hours later. When the ceremony begins, she’ll begin to sketch out the wedding party, maybe even take a quick photo of the lovely scene for reference. When she has all the necessary details, she’ll take the painting back to her studio, and spend the next few weeks touching up the artwork before sending or delivering it to the happy couple. It’s a grueling and intricate process, but the painter finds it incredibly rewarding.
“My favorite thing about it is making my version of a landscape,” Jefferson mused. “I just love to take a really beautiful setting and tweak it to make it my own, to bring out the most beautiful parts of that setting. If I’m looking at a wedding scene, with a beautiful lake or field in the background, I love bringing out those colors and capturing the shapes of the trees, or reflections in the water.”
Jefferson’s artistic inclinations don’t stop at landscape painting. When she’s not meeting with clients or depicting their ceremonies, she enjoys embroidery, macramé, and even designs all of the logos and web elements proudly displayed on her website (link). She paints more than just weddings, too— her portfolio includes families, houses, pets, and more.
As she expands her reach, the artist has found that her product list has grown, thanks to ideas from clients. For instance, she’s debuting a new service, suggested by a past client, where a couple can bring her in for a reception, but instead of painting the scene at hand, she’ll sit at a table and, at the request of guests, paint their portraits abstractly on much smaller cards. Within a half hour or so, eager parties will have an easily portable souvenir to take home with them.
And it’s not just wedding guests that she’s finding favor with, either! As she grows her network and concocts ideas with clients, wedding vendors, and the handful of live event painters she’s found in the surrounding states, it becomes clearer and clearer to Jefferson that she’s chosen an industry she truly loves.
When you think of adding a distinctive and personal touch to the ultimate modern wedding, take the artist’s advice— there’s something undeniably special about a work of art that memorializes your special day, don’t you think?