Drawing at a wedding at Browsholme Tithe Barn: Capturing the special day in sketches

This May I was fortunate enough to be commissioned to capture a wedding celebration at Browsholme Hall Tithe Barn, outside of Cliteheroe in Lancashire, UK. Reportage Illustration, the art of visual storytelling, is a particular interest of mine. You can read about the sorts of thing I’ve covered through reportage sketching here, including events and special occasions, travel destinations, restoration projects and journalistic correspondence. The focus of my work is to capture a sense of place, a sense of occasion and a sense of emotion. Weddings are therefore a natural occasion for me to be interested in drawing.

I am extremely proud to share this post about a special wedding at Browsholme Hall Tithe Barn.  Last night I shared the drawings with the happy couple-my clients and I was so very thrilled with their response.  To them I had brought back a lot of special memories in one set of sketches, as they said:  I told the story of their wedding in my drawings.  I had, they said, captured things that hadn’t been captured by the photographs.  It is a different medium, with different and complementary outcomes.

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The Package

I offer a bespoke Wedding service whereby I draw throughout the wedding celebrations. Because it is important for me to immerse myself in the occasion and its surroundings, I offer a complete package where I attend the whole event and create a series of sketches that cover the key aspects of the wedding. My wedding package includes a meeting with my clients to discuss the wedding, its style, location and key subjects for drawing. It also includes a visit to the venue ahead of the special day so I can really start to think about the place and what makes it special. I think of that visit as pre-work, preparation, where I will also do one or more drawings to get a feel for it all. On the day I try to arrive quite early so that I can prepare myself and perhaps start a drawing or do some warm up exercises, then its all systems go for the remainder of my attendance!

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The venue and my brief

Browsholme Hall Tithe Barn and Courtyard is a really lovely country setting for a wedding! There is a special medieval feel to the barn and a wonderful rustic appearance with beams and exposed brick in beautiful muted tones of pink, gold and buff, being particularly notable features. It is every sketcher’s dream (well, in my view at least!). On my first visit there prior to the wedding, I was lucky-beautiful sunshine and blue sky so I captured the outside courtyard as a way of getting to grips with the brickwork and tones as well as the some of the surroundings. The wedding itself was rustic with a vintage feel, understated but with an elegance and a quirkiness that worked so well in the setting. My brief was to capture the key elements of the wedding: the start of the day and wedding ceremony with the bride and groom surrounded by family and friends; drinks and photos inside and outside; the wedding breakfast, dancing in the evening and any other key details. The style of wedding needed to be matched by my style of creating and finishing my sketches and their presentation package. There was much food for thought!

The day and the process

The day started early afternoon so I was there by late morning so that I could get settled and get started (I can be a bit of a nightmare in this respect when I am on a mission)! For most of the day I was stood or sat towards the back or the side of the barn so that I could get the best drawing angle. I managed one drawing outside but the weather wasn’t very good and this was just a short break in the rain, but this didn’t matter because there was plenty of room and a good layout in the barn and connecting rooms. I hope you get a flavour of that in my sketches. For those of you that read my blog regularly, you will be familiar with my colour-first work where I lay down colour and then work line work over the top. For this wedding, the majority of my work is done colour first with just a couple of sketches done with line work before colour. It was a great way of getting some of the subtlety of the walls of the barn that I wouldn’t have got so readily if I had done the line work first, it also helps me to loosen up and create a more energetic sketch. What I hadn’t factored in was the lower light levels but I got used to it in the end! A lot of what I was trying to capture wasn’t individual people in detail, but the sense of the occasion, the energy and the celebration.  Something very different to what the photography was providing. Therefore, I mainly captured the big views rather than individual elements and people although they do get portrayed in various sketches, especially those with the most distinctive outfits!

My drawings and their presentation

I created 6   9 x 12 inch drawings in total, all done on the day with only finishing off done after the event, from memory and some photos.   Text was added to all of them afterwards. Because I provide my clients with the original sketches, in this case unframed but boxed and presented ready for framing, it is very important to use high quality heavyweight paper that withstands some handling. The presentation box and its finish is also a very important consideration, as it needs to work with the style of the wedding and sentiments of the bride and groom. For this wedding I decided to use a brown card box and white tissue with labeling done in a combination of white and black; all tied up with natural jute cord. It was important to reflect the simple rustic nature of the wedding in the packaging and presentation. This attention to detail is critical for a wedding. Everything needs to be just right, as it has some high caliber elements to be set alongside: the flowers, the photographs, the venue, the cake etc. Most importantly, these special details are important to the happy couple.

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What the clients said

Wow! I am thrilled and proud that my clients were so very happy with the results! From the packaging to the drawings- they loved them! The look on their faces said it all: they were noticing details on the drawing that they hadn’t got time to savor on the day and outfits brought smiles as they identified relatives and friends from the clothing I had shown on the drawings! On several occasions they mentioned that these drawings captured different aspects to the photographs and were a unique take on their special day.

Vicky said: ‘I’m totally in love with the images of our wedding! And I couldn’t recommend you highly enough’ Whilst Pete said: ‘our waiting is over! They are outstanding; our special day has been made even more memorable; thank you so much for the story of our special day at Browsholme. The drawings are fantastic’

It is a special honor to sketch at a wedding. It is such a personal occasion and it’s a privilege to be invited to capture the story of the day in drawings. I am available for commission so please get in touch if you’d like to discuss your wedding or other special occasion.

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