Living Paintings in New Orleans
Jul 25 2016

Living Paintings in New Orleans

By: Clay Curry

In today’s age of smartphones and Instagram, photographs are among the most commonly captured live records of special events. They allow people to look back on a memory and recall small details which otherwise may have been forgotten or overlooked. Similar to photographs, evocative paintings are able to tell a story. One way a painting differs from a photograph is that it is able to recount an entire storyline from the beginning to end in a single scene. The artist is both the author and the illustrator, and he or she has the ability to convey a vivid narrative using thousands of brush strokes and a myriad of colors. That is exactly what a live event painter does.

Living Paintings in New Orleans

Growing up in rural Louisiana, Kelly Boyett was introduced to the world of art at an early age. Both sides of the family were artistically talented. Her mother, who owned a hair salon, was also a gifted oil painter. Boyett recalls helping her mother paint at the salon in between serving customers as one of the highlights of her childhood. She continued painting as a hobby throughout her high school and college years. In 2011, a university professor in Shreveport observed her palpable talent and suggested that she help conduct classes at Painting with a Twist. Boyett took the advice and got an assistant job at the art studio. One night when the lead artist was sick, Kelly was asked to fill in for him. At that time, she had terrible stage fright and was consumed by nerves, but she did as she was told and was surprised at how smoothly the class went. Little did she know that it would one day be commonplace for her to paint amidst large crowds of admiring onlookers.

Boyett eventually moved to New Orleans to work for what was then known as Corks N Canvas, where she soon assumed the title of Corporate Artist. This new role allowed her to travel the country for the franchise’s grand openings to help assimilate the art company into the community. In 2013, a friend asked Kelly if she could paint his daughter’s wedding in Lake Charles. No longer a stranger to painting in front of people, Boyett accepted this challenge, which opened up a new gate in her career as a live event artist.

Living Paintings in New OrleansLiving Paintings in New Orleans

Oftentimes, when she finds herself at a new painting venue, the entire environment is completely new to her. She simply arrives with her easel, canvas, and a trunk full of acrylic paint, paint brushes, duct tape, light bulbs, extension cords, and anything else she might need to create her impressionistic or abstract masterpiece. She uses her paintbrush to sketch out the scene and allows the painting to create itself. “I’m just there operating the brush, and somehow it develops on its own,” Boyett explains. Naturally, she always tries to incorporate a jazzy New Orleans perspective into her artwork.

Living Paintings in New Orleans

Since 2013, Boyett has painted at least 50 live paintings a year, which means it is rare for her to go a single week without capturing the vibrant moments of a wedding, concert, charity event, or innumerable other sceneries. Two of her most prized paintings were crafted for charity events in New Orleans. Her live event painting of Lark in the Park, organized by Friends of City Park, raised $3,000 for the expansion of the park’s Botanical Gardens. Additionally, she braved the storms at the 2016 BUKU Music + Art Project to raise over $2,000 for charities with her live paintings of the concerts. For a full collection of her breathtaking pieces of art, visit her website at www.kellyboyettart.com, where you can also find links to her social media websites.

Living Paintings in New OrleansLiving Paintings in New Orleans

Another well-established live event painter in the Greater New Orleans area is Randy Leo Frenchette, who goes by the name of Frenchy. Originally from Massachusetts, Frenchy has been lucky enough to call New Orleans home for almost 20 years. The Big Easy has served as an inspirational oasis and has allowed him to quench his thirst for the arts through creative expression. Frenchy enjoys traveling the world to grace people far and wide with his talents as he creates stunning portraits of fundraisers, sporting events, festivals and musical performances, to name a few. To learn more information about Frenchy and browse his works, visit www.frenchylive.com.

Living Paintings in New Orleans

It has been said by many that a picture is worth a thousand words; however, a painting contains an infinite amount as the interpretation is dependent upon the interpreter. Each carefully crafted brushstroke is a syllable and each shade of color is a paragraph, working together to capture the hearty laughter and rousing conversations among emotional scenes of dancing, excitement, and natural beauty. These chronicles are immortalized onto a piece of canvas, allowing the admirer to ski-doo into the scene, like Steve chasing after Blue, and interact with the characters inside. Using their paint brushes as a shifter, artists have the ability to transport a spectator to the future or carry them back in time to reminisce a series of events. That is exactly what a live event painter does. 

Header image by Lenore Seal

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