How to fit a whole day into one picture

The framed print ready to hang

It’s that time of year again! I’m organising my show for Art on the Hill this coming weekend, 6th-7th October.

This year I’m especially grateful to Emily and Matt who have let me hold on to the framed composition of their wedding to show at the trail. It was the first of five weddings I sketched this summer.

Emily is a wedding photographer herself and she and Matt have a uniquely creative approach which was demonstrated by the way they could see that a 1950s school assembly hall would make a beautiful venue for their reception.

Normally, I fill a sketchbook during a wedding day and then the couple decide which scene they’d like for their final composition – the ceremony, the meal, the speeches, or perhaps a scene of everyone mingling and chatting. Emily and Matt came up with the idea of starting with the wedding vows at the left and moving through to the speeches and the queue for the fish and chip van who fed us all at the right hand side. This sounded like fun, but rather long and thin, so I came up with the idea of putting some parts of the day – groups posing for photos and the queue for fish and chips – outside the school hall’s large floor to ceiling windows. The raised area where I stood to sketch became the front of Counterslip Baptist Church where Emily and Matt were married.

Detail from the same print

I love the fact that you can find Matt and Emily three times within this final composition. I’m also pleased with the layers of colour. I struggled for a long time to put colour on such a busy scene. Too many distinctive colour blocks can wreck a fine network of sketched lines too easily, destroying its unity and its complexity. After lots of experiments, I duplicated some of my colour layers, rotating and moving them so that patterns and colour elements are repeated, drawing the whole scene together and adding to the sense of busy excitement that is exactly what I remember from the day.

If you’re local do come and have a look this weekend – details of the trail at


Winter wedding in Yatton

Ruth sketching at St Marys

It’s been 10 years now since it dawned on me that being in the middle of something important helps me to draw. I’d probably make a good war artist if the opportunity arose.

Weddings are very different of course, but they do provide an environment where there’s a critical mass of emotion, excitement, and a sense of shared purpose.


I feel so privileged when I’m invited to sketch at one and share the joy of so many people I’ve never met before.

This is Jo and Ian, who were married at St. Mary’s Church, Yatton, where Jo is the Curate.


St. Mary’s Church, which dates mostly from the 15th Century, was a beautiful setting, although I have to admit I struggled with the long lines of some of the gothic pillars and arches. Straight lines are not my thing!



I usually create one large cmposition from the day’s sketches.  It’s rare that the wedding service or ceremony itself becomes the subject of this, because there is much less time to draw than during the drinks reception or wedding breakfast. In this case, however, I had an excellent vantage point at the front and plenty of time, and I knew that Jo would like a picture set in the church where she is completing her ministry training.

drawing of Ian and Jo

The process of putting the different parts of the illustration together, editing, and then colouring them, is done using photoshop, and so the final piece is a giclee print, which I get done at Niche Frames in Stokes Croft, Bristol.



Jo and Ian’s picture is now with them for framing. If you’re interested in commissioning sketching for a wedding, party, conference, or any special event, please get in touch for a chat.





Wedding Sketching Gallery

I’ve created a little gallery of the different kinds of images that I can develop from wedding sketchbooks.

Click on any image to see a larger view.

Usually, the couple want a large composition with as many friends and family in as possible, and sometimes a smaller image for their thank you cards or to give as a thank you gift. Other members of the family can then put in their own orders – from a picture of a single toddler, to a large composition of their own. I create these by scanning, editing, and then colouring, the sketchbook pages.

Find out more about wedding sketching on this page.

Three Weddings and a Live Sketcher

Phew! I’ve been locked out of my website for a while. It’s good to be back.

I’ve been at a few weddings this year, some of them commissions, some of them sketching surreptitiously in a pew.

This is Kelly and Steve, who got married at my church in July. Kelly is one of the happiest , positive, and ready to dance people I know, and it’s obvious how Steve appreciates her.

Kelly and Steve

Peter and June got married at our church earlier in the year, finally making a very special family ‘official’,  and this sketch has been sitting around waiting for colour since then:

June and Peter


Chris and Sarah’s wedding was probably the most relaxed one I’ve been to, and involved lots of wellies, toddlers, dogs, and paddling. At the end of the day I realised there had been very little opportunity to draw the two of them together, so I got them to sit down for a minute with their drinks.

Chris and Sarah

Finally, at the wedding I sketched at on Sunday, which you’ll see more of soon, there was another live sketcher lurking and this is her drawing of me! Maxine is the creator and if you’re looking for a live sketcher in or near Manchester I’m sure she could help you. More about my wedding sketching service here.



My mum makes a speech

This Sunday, the 27th October, my sister Wendy married Paul Costa. I couldn’t concentrate on sketching all that much, with so many people to talk to, but here’s one of my mum giving her speech. Wendy really was the best surprise ever; at the age of 13 I was so horrified to discover that my mother was expecting a baby that I couldn’t tell my friends; at 14, I wrote of her in my diary with adolescent drama, ‘now I know what love is’. Aahh.