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.
Part of the beauty of a bespoke made table is you get to choose your size but with that comes the decision. Below includes our thoughts and a summary of a guide we have sourced from Oak Furniture Land, it serves as a great start to your discussion with us about a bespoke piece. Currently we have the facility to make tables to the maximum size of 350cm x 120cm.
The first step to creating the perfect dining room is to choose the right size dining table and calculate how much space you need per person
The recommended comfortable space per person for a typical dining table is 60-70cm wide by 90cm deep; however if you are happy with getting cosy or likely to accommodate more kids you could go to 50cm.
This means that measuring whether your dining table will physically fit into your dining room isn’t quite enough. For maximum comfort you need to factor in a minimum of 90cm clearance for every side that will have chairs - so be sure to increase your measurements accordingly.
Whatever the purpose of your furniture, gauging the right dimensions and size of your dining table is very important. And remember, you must always consider the space required for both the dining table and chairs.
The standard dining table height is around 75-80cm high and the seat needs to be about 30cm lower than the tabletop. The majority of our legs are a standard 72cm in height - therefore finishing at approximately 76-78cm with the table top. However the height option is also totally bespoke.
Rectangular dining table size guide
How to measure dining table space:
Start by measuring the width and depth of space you’d like to put your dining table in.
Subtract 90cm from each of the measurements - this is to allow enough room between the table edge and the wall to walk around the table and for the chairs to slide in and out comfortably.
Consider how you will get the table into the room, how wide are the doorways, corridors or stairs that the piece may need to move through. We can either provide your table with fitted legs or if you think getting it in will be difficult, legs can come unattached.
If there is other furniture in the room, ensure there’s at least 90cm between it and the edge of the table to allow comfortable movement around it.
With these measurements, you can now choose the right dining table for your space. Use the size guide below to help guide you.
Choosing the right style and shape for your dining table
The shape of your table is very important in terms of space and its intended usage. Round or square tables are great for smaller spaces and more intimate gatherings. If your room is long or narrow or you simply have more space to play with, rectangular dining tables are a good solution. They’re also great for entertaining large groups of people.
Don’t forget to take the width and positioning of the legs into account. Tables with a pedestal base or those that have slimmer legs or legs positioned at the ends generally allow for more seating. We can offer many different styles of metal legs from a trusted steelsmith we use - however if you see something special you like we can source the legs or have them made to your design.
Round dining tables have the benefit of no potentially awkward corners but also provide a good amount of surface space. Another advantage of round tables is they’re great for socialising and entertaining - the centre base on a round dining table is a great way for squeezing more people in.
We hand cut edges so you get a beautiful product that isn't machine cut round. Therefore round tables are more work so you might see this reflected in the price over straight cut pieces.
Here is a guide to round table sizes and suggested guests.
My favourite paints and a popular choice amongst artists are Golden Paints. They're expensive but quite unrivalled in there pigmentation and texture. I use their heavy body and fluid ranges. The neon's are so intense and bold and I love the phthalo blue and green fluid paints. I also really recommend Derivan Matisse paints, I particularly like the colour Midnight Blue (available at Jacksons.co.uk). Its an Australian brand and quite hard to get hold of but the colours are dreamy. For a more budget friendly products I like, Vallejo Fluid paints and Jacksons own brand paints which are really good and smell amazing too! Another go to is System3 by Daler Rowney - you can't go wrong with their paint but I particularly like the heavy body acrylic - its probably the thickest creamiest paint I've come across and its texture is gorgeous. All of these are available at Jacksons.
POSCA - I first discovered these paint pens when I was creating my handmade jewellery and although I don't use them so much the thin white pen is still very much a staple in my work. The opacity of the colour is fantastic!
Brush and Squeegee - As I keep unscaling my work the tools keep getting bigger. I love this massive brush and this squeegee (as it reminds me of my textile print days) but I also love using window cleaning squeegees and DIY brushes and trowels. A favourite go to brush through is a Daler and Rowney System 3 Flat wash - they come in sizes from 25mm to 75mm and are smooth and lovely to use.
Varnish - I've tried Matt, satin and gloss varnish previously but at the moment by favourite is satin. Windsor and Newton is my go to varnish. I buy cheap synthetic brushes just for varnishing - and try to keep them away from the paint pot.
GAC100 - Another artist favourite - this acrylic extender is a wonderful liquid that pushes what you can do with acrylic paint. I use this and other fluid mediums to give my work texture and help with glazes.
Baby wipes - I try not to use too many of these as a resuse damp cloth is better for the enviroment but the wipes do still have their place. Great for wiping on glazes and great for taking off paint to reveal layers.
How to have an arty wedding.
Do you dream in colour and crush over an impasto painting? Well we've taken an Internet dive to bring you some fabulous ideas to get you started on a truly unique arty wedding.
2. THE CAKE.
Let's face it, thick luscious icing has many similarities to paint. So why not treat your cake like a blank canvas and create a masterpiece on it.
New collection release date 30th July - Newbury Contemporary Art Fair
The Chaos and The Calm
She sits still for just a moment,
Its a place she loves,
A place she craves,
And just for that moment her gaze touches as far as the eye can see,
The warm sun, the sea air, the cold water energises her soul.
Laughter fills the air,
The noise crashes in,
The drama, the sticky hands, the pebbles is their shoes,
Eyes are on high alert as they wade in deeper,
With splashes, wild delight and waves that knock them off their feet.
The sun is hot,
The days exhausting,
Skin is dry and hair is wild,
Fueled by ice cream, chips and seaside treats,
It's now an effort to keep those eyes wide.
Enjoy the quiet serenity and full blown energy,
Wrapped up in one,
As it is without you chaos and calm of the sea,
Without these moments that exude life,
There would be much less of a reason to go.
The finished collection will be available for viewing after Newbury
A collaboration of minds / brushes and hand holding
With 2020 and the start of 21 royally sucking at in person exhibitions and with yet another one being cancelled we decided we had to dip our toes further into the virtual world. (I write this in March 21 with the hope that come June we will able to start again *touching wood). There's so much to learn and get our heads around with ever changing technology and editing our offer to suit such a platform that facing it alone was very daunting.
Im a member of the Connected Artists Club run by UK artist Alice Sheridan and that's were I met Penny Hunt and Emma Tweedie.
Frustrated that yet another show was pulled from under my feet (Ive yet to do a big show and have been itching for the last year to get to one) I asked the group if anyone wanted to join me in putting on our own show.
Penny and Emma both jumped at the chance and I'm so glad they did. All of us bring different strengths to the exhibition and I'm eternally thankful for the super organisation of Emma Tweedie!
An artists insight into buying original art online.
Times are changing and it's not only important we move with them, but that we also put new things into practice. Buying such an important thing as original art is never going to be an easy thing. Buying online means we are able to discover many more artists but it can also mean its harder to connect with a piece. Unlike buying the latest technology or wardrobe we can’t guarantee specifics and one person's experience of a piece can be widely different from another.
From an artist's point of view it's not my favourite way of selling, I love meeting my buyers and seeing their reactions when they fall for a piece. With this in mind and knowing that virtual shows and selling will be with us for the foreseeable future (perhaps never now leaving) I've put together things I do and tips to help you decide if a painting is right for you and to get as many feels from it as you would in reality.
1 . Put it virtually in your space
Put it virtually in the space - it a MASSIVE bug bear of mine when artists show off paintings insitu that aren't to the right ratios. Yes it looks great above that sofa but when you look at the detail the painting size ratio is completely out. Pay close attention to this and make sure you check sizes. What I and many other artists should be able to offer is an option to put it virtually in your space. I'm not talking complete Photoshop perfection, but a simple mock up that fits our art into your space with the right dimensions. This is even useful if ordering a commission and you want to see how the canvas size fits too.
It just happened too often for me not to take notice.
I would be chatting to someone about making art and I would hear over and over again 'I can't draw', ‘I’m not creative' 'I'm not good enough' 'I haven't made art since school' 'a teacher put me off art' 'I don’t have time for it' 'I don’t know where to start' and countless other negative, self criticising or concerns which meant they just didn't do any. And that's totally cool if you're okay with that but I know there's many out there who would love to make art.
Art shouldn't be scary, it shouldn't be stressful, it shouldn't be elitist and it shouldn't take up all of your time.
Now coming into the world of art and putting myself out there as an artist has taken confidence and just a little bit of balls! I've had minimal training as a painter (I did an art foundation but studied printed textile design and then went onto a hospitality training and managing role for over 10 years) but over the last 3 years since I made that commitment to myself that this is what I wanted to do I've gone back on a journey of discovering what in art brings me joy.
Whilst on my journey I happened upon the concept of mindful drawing and expressive drawing. It had me hooked and played to all the things I enjoyed about drawing. It celebrated loose styles, powerful and tender marks, involving the whole of you and also seeing the world through different eyes, the eyes of Japanese wisdom Wabi Sabi. In the summer of 2019 I held a workshop at a wellness event called Mindfulness through Expressive drawing. Set on a beautiful summers day in the country it was the perfect backdrop to let go and enjoy the process over perfection journey of making art. My students absorbed it and fully got involved with the class. I was at the same time launching to the wedding market my Your Guest Canvas event and as it was peak time to get involved with the wedding industry I put the workshops on hold until I presumed the spring of 2020. But when we couldn't meet in real life I didn't feel ready to take my ideas online and to be honest was feeling quite overwhelmed by what everyone else was doing. So I retreated into my own practice, making lots more art, learning lots more and connecting with other artists.
Why make a group?
When figuring out how I wanted to get this message across I soon decided I wanted to make this a group and a community of the joy of making art. So the support could continue on long after a course and relationships could be built. I wanted a safe space to share, encourage and challenge. Where you can chat as much as you want or just sit back and absorb. I have a whole host of short workshops pre-filmed for you to watch when you can and once your in, your in. you can stay for as long as you like. I don't claim to have all the answers straight away or have set this up as slick or as perfect as some but I am passionate about it, I will be 100% on hand to support and I'm always remembering new things so you can grow with me for as long as you like.
As an ultimate goal I want to challenge any pre-concieved ideas about what is good or bad art, it doesn't exist art is just art. You like what you like and you enjoy what you enjoy. Championing process over perfection I'd like to inspire you to try different techniques and learn a few skills that may grow your confidence. I want to empower you to seek your own expression and voice in your art and gift you the opportunity to find a time for art and realise that even 30 seconds is good enough.
The summer of 2020 was one no one planned.
But without plans but with the added interference of the unknown and rules I'd never experienced before, more than ever I became appreciative of the freedom that we did have, the nature around us and all of the little details.
The collection "Freedom comes in Waves" grew out that sense of freedom but also my own situation. We acquired a workshop at the end of summer and all of a sudden I had SPACE , a space where I could make bigger pieces, chuck paint around more and not be so concerned with making a mess. So with that these pieces feel freer, there's movement in them that are fresher but also a dream like quality that hopefully takes you to moment in your time, a moment of escapism and freedom.
freedom comes in waves