Stephanie Gaffney’s Live Wedding Art Unveiled
by Greta Honsberger
LOUISIANA NATIVE Stephanie Gaffney has carved an inspiring path through the art world, establishing herself as a renowned artist. Armed with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from LSU, Stephanie’s artistic journey has seen her evolve from a graphic designer to an independent artist. Her creative endeavors have been marked by accolades, including “The Knot Best of Weddings” in 2019 and 2021. Her work found a spotlight in the pages of People Magazine in 2021, solidifying her position as a prominent figure in the art scene. It is an honor to feature her on our cover.
Stephanie’s artistic penchant surfaced young, manifesting a passion for drawing and sketching. “My love of copying images or drawing from my imagination grew into a hobby, and in my late teens, I challenged myself to pick up a paintbrush and give the world of full spectrum color and wet paint a try!” The transition from sketching to wielding a paintbrush marked the beginning of her painting career. As she honed her painting skills, the artist found herself receiving an increasing number of personal requests and admiration for her work. The numerous requests and praise ignited a spark and gave her confidence, leading her to explore a freelance and commissioned artist career, even as she was still an undergraduate student at LSU.
A career in graphic design was the route that Stephanie followed after receiving her art degree. In her early career, she worked as a designer and illustrator for a t-shirt shop and was a web designer for a time, but Stephanie found herself yearning for a deeper fulfillment in her art. Realizing she could contribute more to her clients by working directly with them and creating unique, meaningful art, she decided to paint full-time. Thus, her journey as an independent artist began, propelled by a desire to infuse her work with a deeper connection to her clients.
In 2015, Stephanie’s artistic journey led her to live wedding art. Her launch into this very personal and specialized genre began with a friend’s unconventional request for her to paint at her wedding. Although a novel concept then, Stephanie embraced the challenge, setting the stage for her new career. “I had never heard of such a thing, but because I was brave and willing to work (and let’s face it, I was broke and hustling), I agreed to do it and thus started marketing myself as a ‘live wedding painter.’”
With live wedding painting, Stephanie’s approach involves meticulous conversations with clients to capture their vision. “I focus on achieving focused attention on the couple while painting details in the room in a way that allows the viewer’s eye to dance across the canvas and land finally back on the couple. My goal is to create the piece from start to finish by the end of the night, which forces me to paint loosely and intentionally.”
The adrenaline rush and the challenge of completing a piece by the end of the night drives her to paint with intention and spontaneity to capture the genuine experience of the wedding. “ I try to keep them raw and organic while still composed and effective.” That authenticity is apparent in the final masterpiece.
Stephanie’s preferred mediums reflect her versatility as an artist. She employs acrylics for live wedding paintings, capturing the moment’s essence vibrantly and instantly. In her studio work, she turns to oils, showcasing her adaptability in navigating different materials. Elaborating on her specific technique, she explains, “I have created a unique method of painting that allows me to use each medium in a similar way, layering and working in thick blocks of paint at the same time successfully.”
Stephanie’s mixing technique unfolds into paintings of exquisite beauty.
She says about her favorite part of painting a live wedding: “I love the adrenaline rush that comes from a blank canvas and a hundred onlookers waiting for you to surprise them.” Not only is she motivated by the rush of the actual process, but Stephanie has always been passionate about recreating things of beauty on paper and canvas. Her live wedding art proves that a wedding is the best occasion for vibrant color and splendor to show off and lend to something quite spectacular on canvas.
As far as memorable weddings, without a doubt, there are many, but, says Stephanie, “I love the ceremony exit scenes and the second line parades!” As a plein air painter, Stephanie ultimately embarks on capturing the exuberant spectacle of a Second Line wedding celebration as she skillfully renders the distinctive procession.
Beyond her canvas, Stephanie has extended her passion for art to education, mentoring over 100 students in the US and Canada. Her commitment to guiding emerging artists reflects her dedication to art and is clearly an aspect of her career that is fulfilling on many levels.
Although art is an essential part of her life, Stephanie finds her greatest joy in her role as a wife and mother. She is married to Christopher Gaffney and is a devoted mother to three daughters: Madeline, Charlotte, and Hazel. Family is paramount in her life, and she cherishes the balance between her artistic endeavors and raising her beautiful daughters.
Stephanie Gaffney’s mission expands beyond the canvas. Her goal is to create timeless and personal works of art and bring joy to people through charismatic entertainment at weddings by truly elevating the overall experience. Whether she’s painting for celebrities, collaborating with well-known brands, or guiding budding artists, Stephanie’s energy and love for her craft leave an indelible mark on the art world and the lives she touches.