A picture speaks a thousand words, and Charlotte Atkinson paints it all stunningly.
A professional painter and illustrator with a penchant towards figurative style prints, romance of water colours, and acrylics, Atkinson creates a perfect composition for the live painting experience.
Trained in intensive portraiture in Florence, Atkinson has painted some incredible bespoke wedding venues including the Monte Carlo Opera House and the terrace above Cafe De Paris.
Recently, we’ve had a chance to sneak a peek into the wedding artist’s tous les jours, inspirations and experiences.
“A wedding is a very personal reflection commission and an exciting experience.”
Atkinson recalls her Michael Angelo inspired method of charcoal drawings, sketching the city in evening and morning light with a picturesque backdrop of theatrically sound renaissance history of Florence.
Her first experience of painting live was when a friend suggested she paint at her wedding. It was an intense experience for her, and it just snowballed smooth from there on.
What Inspires your work?
I particularly like to paint people and have always been inspired by the skill of the early fashion illustrators. There is an immediacy and personality to their drawings that I love as I have always loved fashion.
What is a typical day into painting a portrait or a live painting?
Depending on appointments, I might either be live painting, meeting the client at their wedding venue to discuss the commission or attending a wedding fair in Devon or hotels in London. Meeting the clients is the most important part in the process.
After school run, I lay out my materials: the sets of brushes I will need, and start by mixing my paints for the day in large palettes on my desk. This can take a while and I enjoy the meditative process where I start thinking about composition- it’s very exciting.
Once the setup is adjusted to my easel, I turn on the radio or classical music to create the background atmosphere- I can’t work in complete silence. There-on, I paint for hours and tend to not leave until it’s time to stop.
Whatever the commission be, the aim is to capture the simplicity, fluidity of line and the effortlessness. To make a successful painting is all about fluidity, it must look spontaneous to capture a moment. I’ve realized, over years, the difference between drawing and painting is elimination. What you leave out becomes excitement. In order to leave a mark, you have to put it in, or understand the composition.
In the studio, there is so much time to discover and explore ideas. On location I don’t have the luxury of time, and paintings are spontaneous. They always prove to be my favourite. You can overthink at times.
I draw what I see but with the aim to convey the day with personality in an intimate way that is so different from a photograph.
What is the favourite part about what you do?
In terms of media, it depends on the result one wants to achieve, what might be most appropriate to the subject.
I find loose watercolours for small scale pieces. They’re so immediate and fresh. For larger paintings, I favour oil and acrylic for more impact. For a lot of fashion illustrations, I create pure line drawings with Indian ink on hot pressed watercolour paper.
Whether I’m painting live or completing a commission in my studio, it is knowing that I am creating something unique and personal for the couple and seeing their reaction when it is unveiled. It is all very rewarding.
Have you ever had any curious requests or exceptional experiences?
Mostly everything I do is intimate to the subject. Meeting the couple, studying the venue, creating an ideal atmosphere is important to understand the background, the story that has led them to the moment.
The most wonderful thing is I can add thoughtful details as they happen, into the painting. I can paint the cake, add in hints of the colour scheme, and paint significant members of the family, the surroundings, and the bride and groom in the centre of the piece.
I have painted some breathtaking wedding venues in Paris. As everything is very epitomized, I often get requested to capture in the paintings the nearest and dearest to the couple of the day, which can many a time include a pet. I have painted several of my paintings which had a dog as a ring bearer, adding a delightful factor of fun!
How can couples reach you?
I am booked well in advance for live painting, so it’s usually always best to call me to discuss ideas. So then I can get back with my availability.
I can always be reached at email@example.com, or even be phoned at (+44) 07943377711.