Live painting is becoming a hot topic among event planners. It’s a great enhancement to most social events, including corporate get-togethers and weddings, and brings people together in a fun and unique way.
There are two kinds of live painting. In the first, more common type, the artist does all the painting. The artist paints the composition live, interacting with the guests on a casual and limited basis, and presents the piece either at the end of the event or shortly after.
With the second type, participatory painting, guests help create the piece under the supervision of the artist, adding their own brushstrokes and personalizing the piece. The artist has extensive interaction with the guests, both enticing them to participate and teaching them technique. The artist then cleans up and finalizes the piece, again presenting it at either the end of the event or sometime after.
Live painting is still fairly novel, so attendees are naturally curious and gravitate to it, helping set an event apart. Furthermore, the more people use their senses and participate, the more they’ll remember the experience.
Live painting also helps guests engage with each other, resulting in a great icebreaker and natural conversation starter and creating a natural congregation area. Finally, it keeps attendees involved, as they typically love to return to the piece and share with friends and family the parts of the painting they created.
This type of activity is often deeply meaningful, helping to bring warmth and an emotional connection to an event because the subject matter is personalized. Pieces we’ve created have celebrated how brides and grooms met, as well as important milestones for companies and nonprofits.
For weddings, we’ll often have the guests sign a registry, which then gets attached to the back of the piece. Of course, these paintings serve as a daily reminder of the event when they’re hung in a home or company office. At nonprofit events, they’re often auctioned off at the end of the evening to help raise money for the organization.
Tips for Hiring an Artist
- Match the artist’s style with the host’s tastes. Artists generally only specialize in one or two styles, and booking the wrong artist can be disastrous.
- The artist should be personable and able to interact with guests in a fun and positive way.
- Make sure the artist is professional and presentable. I’ve seen artists fired from events because of a lack of professionalism.
- The artist must have experience painting live. Painting live is not the same as painting in a studio. Not only does the artist need to make sure they bring the appropriate equipment, including drop cloths, the correct lighting, the right assortment of brushes and paints, etc., but they need to finish the painting on time.
Eric Jaenike is a partner at Artistry Events & Design, a company specializing in design, décor, audio and lighting for events in Denver.