Launched by Surrey Artist Entrepreneur Emma J Read of Cedars Yard, this unique art entertainment is taking weddings in the South of England by storm. Here she details the finer details of the event.
How did it come about?
I myself got back into painting after the birth of my son Cedar (now 5), with a background in training teams I considered running workshops for people to help them discover the joy of painting. Less about creating perfect art but using it as tool for fun and mindfulness. Whilst investigating this area, trialling some workshops and working alongside a local art facilitator I soon noticed my passion for collaborative artwork and painting big! I love seeing people work together on one piece, loosing themselves in a moment of creativity and having the opportunity to paint on a larger scale.
Painting at weddings was a side note in my business book long before I’d given it my full attention, I must of noticed it had potential but not in the right place to explore. Then in the Summer of 2019 something switched and I found myself again asking myself the question: when do people come together for a celebration and who would want the artwork? Weddings seemed like the obvious answer. I trialled it for a wedding in August 2019 to a local couple in Haslemere who were happy to be guinea pigs and haven’t looked back since. Refining and growing it. I now run it alongside my own art practice and the overall running of Cedars Yard.
What is a Your Guest Canvas and how does it work?
Your Guest Canvas is built around the idea that all friends and family of the couple help the artist create a fine art painted canvas on their wedding day. But this is more than just a guest book, or a finger print tree - its considered, bespoke, managed and artistically executed to leave the couple with a piece of artwork they will love and treasure on their walls.
Prior to the day a consultation allows the couple to discuss design and colour palette ideas. “It could be a inspired by a special place, an animal, a link to the wedding venue or simply a style the couple like, the colour palette is then chosen to work in the couples home or reflect their style”.
Once the design is put onto canvas I then sets up on the day and invites all friends and family young and old to work together to make something truly unique for the loved ones.
Having something so special on your wall, made on your wedding day, by all those there is something that still gives me goosebumps, my nan was an artist and I'm lucky enough to have her artwork on my walls, now she isn't with us anymore, being able to see her marks everyday is really special. I love that this event will also allow that feeling to pass on to so many more people.
Once the event is over I take back the painting to my studio to edit and enhance, I never change others peoples work without the couples go ahead, what I mainly do is fill in gaps, make colours stronger and blend areas to overall enhance the piece.
Describe the design process in more detail?
Some couples come to me with a clear idea of what they like and others need a bit more inspiration. During the first consultation I’ll try and delve a bit deeper into some ideas. Proposing questions about style of art, themes, colours. We can also look at my previous canvases to understand which work your more drawn too, work of other artists, pinterest ideas or photos you may have. Inspiration can come from anywhere and part of my job is to interpret that inspiration into a design.
With some designs I use painters tape to mark out an image, therefore supporting guests with a clear guide to where to paint, sometimes I mark out some of the design and leave the some areas for freehand work and with some designs we go with no guide tape at all. Often with this style I will though put down base colours or marks to help guide the design. The level of freedom you allow your guests is also up to you. I can guide them to keep the areas painted in a way that lends itself to an overall goal or I can allow creativity to be let rip so to speak (but be aware king kong and aliens have made appearances, this may or may not be a welcome thing!)
Can kids get involved?
Yes of course - anyone from 0 - 99 and beyond can do something. I’ve even had dogs put a paw mark on the canvas. I love it when kids do get involved, they often are the most fearless with the paint and their mark are really expressive. Part of my job is often to stop them coming up for the 100th time to allow others to paint too!
Is it messy?
Generally no, if people take due care with the paint and I have some things in place to minimise any mess. This included aprons, gloves and wipes provided, I only allow 3 people to paint at once, I look after all the brushes and tubes of paint so you don't get them yourself, I am with the canvas the whole time, I am on constant sleeve and dress watch, I use floor coverings if inside to keep the venue clean if paint does drop and finally we use a minimal amount of water with the paint so its not too fluid.
What tools do you provide to paint with?
I use professional acrylic paints, a range of brushes and palette knives
Do you provide tuition?
As and when its needed, even if I do I give guidance I like to encourage the guests to self discover. I want it too be joyful , not a lesson in right or wrong.
What do people most commonly say?
They say - I can't paint
I say - Everyone can physically make a mark, its the act of taking part that's important.
They say - I could paint here all day
I say - please come back again - your welcome to do as much as you like
They say - I haven’t painted since school, this is brilliant
I say - BIG SMILE - this is what I love to hear
They say - I’ll ruin it
I say - acrylic is very forgiving - whats the worst that can happen!
They say - This is so unique, I’ve never heard of this event before
I say - Thankyou - I believe it is totally unique
They say - Who did that bit, this bit, ohh this bit is good!
I say - Another big smile moment - I love the conversation it feeds
How much space do you need?
On average a 9ft x 3ft space is needed for equipment (though I can bring a smaller table)
Then space around the easel for people to move. The bigger the area the better and make sure I'm in a key area where people will congregate. Sometimes people can be a little slow to get painting (nerves, saying their hellos, having a welcome drink) so its important I'm as accessible as possible for when they are ready.
How long are you there for?
I recommend a 2-3 hour slot - if we are under 2 hours it is possible I will just need the support of groomsmen and bridesmaids in encouraging people to paint if your goal is to get as many to paint as possible. Time wise I would recommend the drinks reception or very early evening.
Has any venue ever said you couldn’t come?
No, I always contact a venue I’ve not worked for before to chat to them about the event, what I do to prevent paint getting on their venue and I also have my own public liability insurance.
What do you do after the event?
I take the painting back to my barn studio in Hampshire. I will fill in and bits missing and then remove the tape. I will then paint in the white lines and enhance the painting by making colours stronger and uniting areas. After which I will show you the piece where you’ll be able to request any further colour changes or edits. Please do remember though this is your guests painting so although we may try to achieve a style it is still subject to your guests creativity. I suggest you go into the process without too many preconceptions. I will make any final adjustments and then arrange delivery or collection.
“I love how everyone can get involved, whether its releasing your inner Monet or just making a mark” says Emma, “It gets people talking, laughing, reminiscing and even sometimes an edge of competition”
If you think fine art could play at part at your wedding and your walls are screaming out for individuality, check out a Your Guest Canvas event by Cedars Yard - @cedarsyard @makeyourmarkevents or contact me below.