Tag Archives: Paint Brothers

A Speed Painting Tribute… different

23 Jan

As Speed Painters we have the privilege of performing for some of the most fun and exciting crowds – and most of our performances are just that: fun and exciting!  Incredible singers belting it out while we paint, crowd clapping, cheering, singing along… incredible and, yes, fun!

But this blog is about a request and a performance that was different.

This request came to us steeped in… well, tragedy.
The voice on the other end of the phone was humble and heartfelt, can we convey a message to a convention audience… sentiment really, one that could help a large group of people heal and pay their respects? The story, although straight out of a newspaper headline (literally as it turned out) had a shattering impact on the company and it’s employees – two of their people, a pair of young women, were killed while on the job by an eighteen wheeler running a red light.
During their annual event they wanted to honor these two women, pay tribute to them, and – we realized later – give everyone a chance to say goodbye.

Could we paint their portraits, but do it to honor the solemnity of the occasion? “Not too slow though, they wouldn’t have liked that, but not over the top… there’s over 1,500 people going to be there… we need your help.”

Over the next few days certain decisions became obvious. First the music: no live singers, no “motivating” music, just a simple, beautiful ballad . Second, we would paint both portraits at once, one at each end of the stage, each painter staying solo with their 6′ x 6′ canvas. Lastly, we would keep it contained at 6 minutes.

On site Michael and I ended up waiting backstage over 4 hours. That’s a lot of butterflies. Michael joked about how he was sick before speed painting Michael Eisner (“He was the CEO of DISNEY at the time and there he was sitting a couple feet in front of the stage.”) but this was nervous in a different way… humbling. And suddenly they’re waving us on and it’s bright and quiet and I’m walking up to the familiar blank canvas. The smell of our paints. Image of a young woman in my head.
I realized only a dozen people knew what we were painting, what would the rest think? And then I was gone.

While we were painting we didn’t dance or jump, didn’t do any sort of theatrics, we simply painted.  Just us, our brushes and our “subject matter”. For a few moments we held them – just as we strived to for the hours of studio rehearsal – a feature at a time, pouring our hearts into every stroke. With 1,500 people there, somehow, it was the most intimate performance we have ever done.

The music ended and their was silence. We turned. Funny how the noise of a crowd can sound different in different situations, it hit us as a rolling building thunder – part clapping, part cheering, part crying, not for us of course – partly for their company that took the risk in creating such a moment but mainly for the memory of their lost friends.
It was truly a beautiful, and humbling experience.

I hope they would agree.

Author Jeff Smith

Michael Ostaski and Jeff Smith are Speed Painters with the act The 3 Painters