And who am I to turn down a present 🙂
This energy is addictive.
Those early moments transitioning from event staff yelling into the back checking on some last minute details or a place setting missing their salad fork or confirming the recipe for the signature cocktail. The DJ doing some sound checks.
Soon those conversations quiet to allow the guests coming in to take the stage and they’re all buzzing with anticipation, checking out the venue and the cake and greeting each other and getting their drinks.
And then the guests’ role for the night becomes secondary as the bridal party is announced, the music gets louder and finally the couple everyone is there to celebrate make their way onto the scene.
The rhythm of each gig still fascinates me and fuels me
and I find my painting pace pretty closely correlates to the rhythm of the timeline set for the evening, all while fielding increasing conversations from curious guests as they relax into that rhythm and stop by the canvas on their way in and out of the action. They begin to pick out elements in the painting they’ve just witnessed in real life. And they, without realizing it, hold me accountable to keep. making. progress. Don’t let up.
The challenges though present at each job still perplex me, but I find myself better prepared for them with each painting I complete and hand over to each couple just hours into their marriage. The lighting changes as the sun goes down and the event lighting pops and changes color to the beat of the music (ever tried to paint in red lights that change to blue then strobe?), the early layers I spent too much time on get covered up with the energy and action of the bash, the guests don’t stay in one spot (now where was that guy with the floral tie, he was just there a second ago), the flower girl left early but needs a spot in the painting – was her dress to the floor or short and poofy?
Somehow answers come, guests encourage me with their comments about the painting, the newlyweds check in on me a time or two (ooooh always big butterflies as I see them approach me, what will they think of their painting, will they know I’m still working before seeing the flaws that I KNOW still need attention…), and I fight my palette starting to dry up after a few hours working, my eyes balancing between the colorful crazy dance floor lights vs my constant glowing bright light on my canvas. But soon the painting is super close to being done, and that feeling, too is addictive.
Finished piece posted at the bottom of this blog post
Toward the end of this specific job, I get a visit from a grandpa (I think on the groom’s side), who I’d noticed early on when he’d arrived in his dapper suit staying close to his lady. I saw him again on the dancefloor with that lady -his bride of 65 years(!!!) I found out during the anniversary dance. And he made his way to me as I was close to wrapping up for the evening to see what I was doing on that big canvas in the middle of a party like this.
We chatted briefly, about marriage, about art, and I wanted to make sure he knew I was hearing him, so I stopped and looked at him (hoping the eye contact would make up for half my face being covered in a mask (#2020weddings) and tried to let the painting go for a sec and truly soak up his wisdom. 65 years married, I knew he had some words I’d welcome. And he did.
As he started the trek back across the venue starting to empty a bit, now twinkling in candlelight, and navigating through the bumpers and grinders on the dance floor back to his bride, he turned back to me and he was shuffling through his wallet. He found a small laminated card that he presented to me and told me he thought I’d enjoy. I thanked him, again looking right at his kind generous eyes, and took that card clutching it under my palette as I wrapped up, and some emotions welled up in my belly. I knew what he’d shared I wanted to give my full attention to when I was able to later. And I didn’t want to lose that card.
I cleaned up, I hung out a bit longer than usual to get the painting to the right set of hands and to catch up with a couple of the venue staff and bartenders, and stashed that card in my pocket. I wondered what it was, but wanted to save it.
I’m writing this on Tuesday morning, a full 2+ days after the job I’ve told you about here, and am just now seeing that card in a small pile on my desk where I finally landed at the end of the night and emptied my pockets of a few business cards, bobby pins and the cap from a dried up tube of paint. I’ve just read that card for the first time and that grandpa totally delivered. The wisdom I knew he had to share is major, and I assume he carries a few of these cards to share when he feels the need, and I am one of the fortunate ones that got a tangible piece of what he felt important to share.
Based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, it’s the best advice I need right now — we all need, a time for everything (even though we have all been given some unexpected time in this pandemic but where has that time gone, how have I used it… another post for another day) and to be reminded of daily.