Updated: Jun 15, 2022
If you read my blog post about the 3 requirements of becoming a live painter, and you think live event painting may be for you, that's awesome! It's a huge step just to decide on what you want. But now that you have a direction, where to go with it? The most common question artists interested in coaching ask me is "how do I get started as a live painter?" So I'm going to share some free advice.
The first step is fairly simple- you paint! You need a portfolio and lots of practice before you can peddle yourself as a professional live event painter. Since live wedding painting is the most popular form of live painting, I suggest you start with painting wedding scenes in your studio. The ceremony and the first dance are the most popular moments my clients ask me to paint. Put out a call on social media and ask your friends for pictures of their weddings to paint. The best pictures tend to be wide shots of the room, but you may have to use some imagination and stitch several photos together in your mind to compose a proper wedding scene, which can be challenging, but not unlike what you need to do when you are live wedding painting (and in this practice scenario nobody is moving so that makes it a little easier). Just learning to paint a room with a crowd will be valuable practice for later.
So paint a wedding scene from a photo(s). Then do it again. And again. These paintings are doing more for you than just practice of the basic mechanics. The good ones are going to be how you identify your artistic style as a live painter, and also how you book your first real gigs. You see, you need to have some consistency in your body of work for clients to feel they have an idea of what their own painting will look like, and also to capture their trust that you can deliver a consistent product. By having a series of wedding paintings from photos, your signature, wether it be photo realistic or something more abstract, will emerge in the paintings as a whole.
The next big step in becoming a live painter is, well, live painting. You need to know you are comfortable painting in front of others with some pressure and time constraints before you start charging clients thousands of dollars for a painting. You are going to want to paint live in a variety of scenerios. You can start by painting live in casual crowded scenes, like street corners or markets. So how it feels to have eyes on you while you work and learn if you like that feeling. Practice navigating questions for onlookers while continuing to stay focused on the task at hand. Then you can graduate to actual events. Start painting for free or for enough to cover supplies. Paint at friend's parties, or offer to paint at charity events and donate the painting for auction (but arrange to take a cut of the sales). This way you continue to build your portfolio with a more authentic subject matter, but you don't yet have all the pressure of being a live wedding painter.
Once you've done enough practice in the studio and at low pressure live events, you will have a great portfolio for prospective clients and you should have enough confidence to start charging for your work! In no time you'll be a proffessional live painter!
Feel like you need more direction?
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