This is the first Wedding Cake Portrait that I've painted in about three years. It was a very special project due to the relationship I have developed with the recipients, Marcia Le Beau and Lee Seidenberg. Marcia and Lee live in a neighboring New Jersey town and I bumped into Lee, an advertising creative, illustrator and photographer, during an arts festival in South Orange a couple of years ago. Through our conversation we discovered that not only does Lee share my husband's first name, but his wife, Marcia, a published poet, worked with my sister-in-law at an advertising agency years ago. Lee and I kept in touch on social media until he enrolled Marcia in my watercolor class as a gift last year.
Since that first chance encounter, we've discovered so many connections. And now, not only is Marcia a student of mine, but they have become good friends with both my husband and me. Marcia reached out to me over the summer to commission a Wedding Cake Portrait to commemorate their tenth anniversary. Above is the result which was presented to Lee last week.
The painting is the culmination of portions of their less than perfect wedding day, back in 2006, in New London, New Hampshire. As Marcia detailed in an email, '"Our wedding was outside. During the ceremony, it was blowing like crazy and by the time the cocktail hour came around there was a full on torrential rain storm; our wedding photos have ominous black clouds in them. The tent almost blew over. My sister was stuck in the transportation museum and no one could find her for an hour, so she missed all the pictures. My father got hit in the head with a barn door when he tried to close it. The flowers flew off the cake (you can see in the photos). My mother was running around telling everyone, 'It wouldn’t be Marcia’s wedding without drama.' We found out later from my aunt that a tornado was 25 miles away. Miraculously, the sun came out as we went into the main tent."
It was the wedding cake that became the highlight as Marcia said, 'the food at our wedding was less than stellar." She wanted me to depict the imperfections of the day, the stormy sky, the blown off flowers from the cake, and the sunlight coming back out. She sees that day as a metaphor for their ten year marriage. Which brings me back full circle to the paintings I started in 2005, a year after my own wedding, exploring the imperfect cake, much like our imperfect relationship, as counter to everything we see on social media and on our much-anticipated wedding days. Interestingly, this is not the first imperfect cake I've painted.
Marcia and Lee are humorous, charming, and seem to embrace all that life offers at face value. This painting truly embodies their relationship and I was honored to create such a meaningful work on such a special milestone.
As for their reaction? Marcia almost cried upon seeing it, and Lee sent me this text upon receiving his gift: "I LOVE the painting! The colors are amazing! Love the blown off flower petals. Takes me right back! Can't wait to frame and put it up! Love it! What a special treat!"
Congratulations Marcia and Lee, and here's to decades more of imperfections, love and friendship! Do you have a wedding day, perfect or imperfect, that you'd like to commemorate through a Wedding Cake Portrait? I'd love to talk to you. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or browse my gallery of Wedding Cake Portraits at weddingcakeportraits.com.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Deemed the Kitchen God's Artist by NJ Savvy Living for my sainted appliances, I'm now known more for my vibrant, meditational paintings of chairs set surprisingly in landscapes. Since relocating to NC from NJ, mothering my two sons, and caring for our rescue pup, Cider, took the lead. Now, that my Durham home studio is renovated it's open again for virtual art coaching and the resumption of my personal art and commissions. The work I make is inspired by my joy of teaching, exploring nature, and traveling. On The Teaching Artist Blog, I share my approach to teaching and educate my readers about my creative process.
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