I’ve been thinking about weddings more lately (probably because we just celebrated our anniversary), and you see I’ve been posting some wedding inspiration boards. I thought I would share with you a few photos from my wedding and insight into how I designed our event. As an artist, I knew I wanted to incorporate painted elements into our event design. Both my husband and I love the color blue and it’s a color often associated with marriage (“something blue”). Using the same brilliant blue paint, I painted the invitations, signage for the venue, escort cards, table numbers, confetti, garlands, and favors (mini canvases). I wanted to create a design that was both modern and timeless, so I combined the blue painterly elements with more traditional white and silver accents. The painted canvases still color our world, hanging in our home as a reminder of our special day. Creating all of the details was so much fun, and started a new obsession with all things wedding. Check out my full inspiration board on Pinterest.
Whether you are working with oils or acrylics, your surface needs to be primed before you begin. This greatly extends the life of your art by ensuring it will adhere to its canvas support and not flake or crack off. In these pictures I’m using unstretched canvas (read how to stretch canvas here), but the process is the same if you are using an unprimed stretched canvas, just be sure to prime the edges too. This technique can also be used to prep thick paper for painting or mixed media work.
You’ll need gesso to prime the surface. Utrecht’s acrylic gesso is my favorite and the only kind I use. I like it because it’s super thick and very opaque, so it coats the surface well and you can use it to add texture if desired. This gesso (as with all acrylic-based gessoes) can be used under either acrylic or oil paintings. There are some gessoes that are made only for oils, but I prefer the acrylic type because of its versatility.
To begin priming your raw canvas, the first few coats of gesso need to be diluted so the canvas fibers can absorb the primer and create a strong, impermeable support for your painting. I dilute my gesso with a ratio of about 1 part water to 2 parts gesso. I like the consistency to be liquid and pourable. Utrecht gesso out of the bucket is so thick, it requires quite a bit of water to make it pourable. If you are using a different type of gesso you may not need to add as much water. Most gessoes available in craft stores are already very thin, so use your best judgment.
Use a large flat brush to apply the gesso to the raw canvas. As you brush the gesso in, follow the fibers of the canvas, working horizontally and then vertically. Apply an even coat, and let each coat completely dry before adding another. Use at least two coats of the diluted gesso. Once these initial coats have dried, add a layer of gesso at full strength. You can either brush this on evenly for little or no texture (ideal for painting things like portraits where you want a smooth surface) or you can intentionally add texture with brushes, palette knives, or any other tools. I personally like the textured look for abstract paintings. I find it helps give dimension to the painting, and I like to use the texture as part of the composition. Again, this thick texture is only achievable with heavy-bodied gessoes like those by Utrecht. Once this final layer of gesso is dry, you can begin your painting.
A garden party wedding is a classic theme and perfect for spring. To achieve this look, include lots of florals as the focal point of the design, but otherwise keep things simple. Consider an outdoor wedding, perhaps in a local garden or park, under an arbor covered in climbing roses. If it’s spring, blooms will be abundant and there will be many flowers in season to choose from. The look featured here combines blush colored roses with greenery and gold accents. Flowy white linens and fabrics complement this soft, fresh, springtime look. Flower crowns and fairy lights would add some magical touches to the event. Check out my full inspiration board on Pinterest.
Watercolor details are so simple to incorporate into your wedding design. You can DIY these ideas or hire an artist to hand craft keepsakes you will have forever. The easiest place to start is to add similar wash elements in your color scheme across all of your signage and paper details (invitations, menus, escort cards, programs, etc.). A painted backdrop for your ceremony or reception will create a unique and striking focal point to your event. The watercolor effect can also be carried over to bridesmaid dresses (perhaps a mix of flowy, pastel-colored dresses), custom cocktails, colored drinkware, and table linens. For this inspiration board, I’m sticking with warm colors (pinks, corals, and golds) to keep everything pretty and bright. Overflowing bouquets with lush blooms add to the creative feel. All this watercolor got you feeling extra artsy? You can incorporate paintbrushes into your centerpieces or set up an art table for the kids. Check out my full inspiration board on Pinterest.
Hanging art is a pretty simple process, but here are a few expert tips on how to do it like a pro. With these tips, you can transform an ordinary space into your very own art gallery.
Choose the right hardware for the job. Hopefully the hanging hardware on the back of the art has already been properly installed by the artist or a framer. If you are doing it yourself, I recommend picture hanging wire over any other type of hanger, such as sawtooth hangers. I also prefer conventional picture hanger hooks (like those seen above) to regular nails. If you are purchasing wire and hooks yourself, keep in mind there are different options based on the weight of the artwork. You may need to use more than one hook if you have a particularly large work, and you’ll need two people to install it.
Hang your art at the correct height. In a museum or gallery, art is typically hung where the center of the work is 60 inches from the ground. This places the art at about eye level and makes it easy to view. However, in some instances you might need to hang the work higher, for example, if it is very large or if you have very high ceilings. Here’s how to get it exact: Using a tape measure, take the half the height of the work (let’s say that’s 10”) minus the distance from the hanger to the top of the work (let’s say, 2”). Add this difference (which is 8”) to 60”. This is the height (68”) where you should place your nail for the center of the work to be 60” from the ground. If that’s too complicated, you can simply eyeball it. Just keep in mind you want to place the center of the work at eye level. Also note, when hanging art over furniture, leave about 6-8” of space between. And leave at least 2” between works if you are hanging multiple pieces of art together in a group.
Art should never be placed in direct sunlight or where there is a lot of moisture or extreme changes in temperature. Keep in mind where your windows are when hanging art and avoid placing paintings and drawings in rooms with high humidity such as bathrooms. Paintings on canvas should be varnished to help protect them from these elements. If you can, check with the artist to see if the work has been varnished. If you know the work has not been varnished, you may be able to do this yourself. Just be sure you are using the appropriate formula for either oil or acrylic paintings and follow the instructions on the packaging. Seek out an expert’s help if you are unsure. It's best for works on paper to be framed with UV-protective glass and acid-free backing. Paintings that are not under glass should be dusted as needed with a soft, clean brush or rag. A few simple steps can extend the life of your art and help maintain its value.