There are many ways a couple will commemorate their wedding, but a custom wedding painting may be one of the most unique and treasured!
Figurative painter Hope Sharp creates oil paintings live at weddings that are unique to each event. She sat down with Vermont Weddings to explain the process of creating these timeless, romantic heirlooms.
What is a custom wedding painting?
A wedding is an incredibly special day in a couple's life, and a wedding painting captures the essence of the celebration. The paintings are bespoke, custom gifts that become treasured family heirlooms. I like to think of them as little jewels a couple will want to hand down to their grandchildren someday!
How did you get into wedding painting?
I was in the wedding business before I was a wedding painter! Years ago I worked as a florist in NYC and then in San Francisco. I eventually made my way to Vermont, where I earned my Masters in Fine Arts degree from Johnson State College and began my career as a live wedding painter.
As an artist, I've always been fascinated with the body in motion. I spent a lot of time observing at a local dance studio (with permission, of course!) observing and learning to paint how people move.
One day a friend asked if I'd paint at her daughter's wedding. I was excited to combine my love of weddings with my interest in capturing movement. Plus, weddings are such gorgeous events to paint - the flowers, the beauty... it's a dream! From there, the word got out and the requests started to come in.
What is your process for creating a painting?
I first get a sense of who the couple is. Often, it's one of the parents who has commissioned the painting as a wedding gift to the couple. Sometimes they will have a particular moment they know the couple wants captured, like the first dance, and other times it's very open.
On the day of the wedding, my job is to observe. I don't start my paintings before the event, so they are truly 100% unique to each couple's event. I watch for the right moment, and then I strike! In addition to painting, I take a lot of photos for reference.
I'll continue to work on the painting throughout the event; guests love to watch the progress. The live painting is a memorable part of a couple's celebration, and they appreciate the joyful element of surprise and elegance it brings to their day.
I continue to finish the painting back at my studio (this is where the photos come in handy). Typically within two months couples can expect to receive their finished painting.
How would you describe your style?
If I had to sum up my style in three words, I'd say "contemporary; expressionist; impressionist." That said, no two paintings are the same!
I have some that are more defined portraits and others that are more abstract. My goal is to capture the emotional state of the moment, so the style I use in each painting reflects the emotion of that moment.
What's your favorite moment during a wedding?
I love watching the couple walk back down the aisle after their ceremony. That moment is filled with such joy and romance, and you can tell the couple is excited to celebrate.
One of the reasons I love painting at weddings, however, is that no two are alike! While there are similar elements the story is always different. That's exciting for me to capture as an artist.