Hand painted wedding mats began with my grandfather. He was a wood worker on the side and made his own picture frames. As gifts he would create a dried flower design on the mat and frame it in one of his own. Now, I paint designs on mats around photographs or wedding invitations and give them as gifts, each one is different and specific to the invitation or person. They're inspired by the colors of the invitation and personalities of the receivers, but they also end up taking on a life of their own.
Sometimes it's much easier to create for other people than it is to create for yourself. It's hard for me to paint something that I'm going to see everyday- I'll get tired of it, I'll find flaws, I'll think it's too simple. Luckily, inspiration struck after I saw this quilt and I was able to paint this design that I love. This is a photo of Chris and I on our wedding day with our friend Vic marrying us- I love this particular photo because Chris had just made me giggle and said something ridiculous and sweet.
This is a really simple, satisfying project to do when you need a dose of hand made creativity.
You will need:
A frame with a mat: this one sized for a 4x6 photo from Target
A correctly sized photo
Acrylic paint: I used Geranium by Martha Stewart Crafts
A paint palette: I just used a thick piece of scrap paper
A water cup: I love my favorite chipped mug from my mom
A nice skinny brush: I use a size 3/0 Princeton Select Round from Michael's
A paper towel near by to dab your brush and soak up spills
Begin by squeezing a small amount of paint onto your palette
Practice dabbing your brush and making small lines- you can do this on your palette or another scrap of paper
Notice the viscosity of the paint, you may want to add a touch of water to thin it out
Once you feel comfortable painting even lines, begin in one section of the mat
Paint a few lines at a time, either in even or jagged rows
Continue up from there to create the organic shape
Stop every so often to check your shape for balance and completion
Once you are done with a shape, leave enough negative space in between before you start the next shape
After every shape is painted, reevaluate the space to figure out the size, direction and contour of the next shape
When finished, take a final look for any spaces that need filling or contours that need editing
And as you go, remember the art rules that I review constantly with my students:
Try first and when you make a mistake you can fix it and turn it into something, leave it and move on, or start over if really necessary. Have fun!