Anita Faulkner was always going to be an artist.
Her earliest memories involve lying on her parents’ bed as a four-year-old and drawing intricate circular patterns all over her mother’s cardboard bill box.
“I’d be yelled at every day because I’d draw on anything that was blank; walls, books, even, tables,” says Anita, who remembers being unable to stop drawing since she was old enough to hold a pencil.
“I’d take chalk and draw on the road outside our home and, when I was four or five, I even drew fairies on my parents’ marriage certificate!”
Forty five years later, all that “practice” has paid off.
Today, the NSW-based mother-of-eight is an award-winning artist who’s dabbled in everything from pottery and folk art to batik, silk screen printing and airbrushing.
But of all her artistic pursuits, it is painting Anita loves best and, today, she shares her gift with couples on their wedding day.
“People have painted their weddings for centuries, and not the weddings of royalty,’’ says Anita citing wedding paintings found of ancient Greek vases dating back to 4 B.C. as well as, of course, one of the most famous wedding paintings of all time, Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Wedding (below).
“These lovingly created paintings would take pride of place in their homes and would be seen every day for decades, sometimes even centuries,” she adds.
“But with cameras everywhere these days, people don’t often think of having a wedding painting done, but weddings are just as special today as they were in 4 B.C. and it’s such a lovely and unique way to commemorate your big day.”
It was this notion – and some very impressed relatives – that led Anita to start Art Only, her flourishing wedding painting and portraiture business.
Anita painted her first wedding portrait for her daughter Rachael two years ago – from a mobile phone picture captured on the day.
After seeing it, her older daughter Lisa, who was married more than a decade earlier, provided Anita with another photo and asked for a painting of her wedding day.
“My second youngest daughter Brooke put the photo of Rachael’s wedding painting on Facebook and it went viral,” says Anita who has now painted about 15 wedding portraits for couples across the country.
The process is very straightforward: Interested couples need only send in a photograph of their big day and Anita will either reproduce it exactly or change backgrounds or positions.
There is no need to sit and pose in one position for weeks on end as the Arnolfinis in the painting above probably did way back in 1434 when their famous wedding portrait was painted in the Flemish city Bruges,
Most wedding pictures take between one month and three months to complete, but the time frames vary depending on a couple’s chosen medium.
An oil painting, for example, takes about two months to complete but, even after it is delivered, it won’t be fully dry for several months.
Couples who opt for a charcoal drawing or acrylic painting have less of a wait. Anita can usually finish that sort of work within a few weeks.
“Oil paintings take a long time to dry because it’s a laborious process of painting several layers, then letting each one dry before I can continue,” she adds. “The benefit, however, is that they’re a lot more luminous than acrylic paints and last longer, sometimes for hundreds of years.”
Acrylic paintings, which use water-based paints, usually only take a few weeks from start to finish, including drying time.
Prices, too, vary and are based on the medium, but also the size of the canvas used. Anita’s entry-level offerings usually start at about $300, making them ideal as a truly unique wedding gift, especially for guests giving a group gift from a pool of contributions.
“It’s the perfect wedding gift for the couple who has everything,” says Anita. “Wedding photographers do an amazing job of capturing a couple’s big day, but there’s something really different about having a painting of your wedding day.”
“It’s a truly unique document of a couple’s history that they’ll see every day and, each time they look at it, they’re drawn back to one of the happiest times of their life.”