Wedding Art Case Study

Nature Inspired Custom Wedding Art by Jill Lena Ford spirals with natural materials sand, shells and blue and green paint colors


This artwork was created for Emily and Chris Marko. They are a newly married couple. Emily has a daughter who was eleven years old at the time of the wedding. They wanted a piece of artwork created to commemorate this special day in their lives, and a way to capture those memories forever.

Their main request was that I create a design that represented their newly blended family of three. They wanted their artwork to celebrate not only their union as a couple, but also the coming together as a new family. The couple had a beautiful outdoor beach wedding and wanted to incorporate sand and shells from their wedding location in their artwork to capture that place in time forever. It also was important to them to experience the relaxed, calm feeling of being at the seaside when looking at their artwork, since this is a place in nature that is very meaningful to them.



We began with a design consultation to discuss visions and ideas for the piece including color, design, materials, and significant meanings for the work, as well as looked at some inspiration examples. After our discussion, I began by sketching some initial designs to get the ideas flowing and to be sure that I covered all of their requests. I created some images that represented the ocean, such as waves and spirals. I also experimented with designs that symbolized their union as a couple, and their coming together as a family.  Finally, I played with different triple spiral designs to represent their union and growth. From these initial sketches I will create a final design for the artwork.



I developed a design that I felt best expressed their family and their union together. The three spirals represent each member of the family, and signify separate individual parts creating a greater whole. The spirals begin on the outer edges and join in the center of the artwork with a small puka shell, representing the coming together of each individual to form their new family unit. Spirals are a symbol of unity, life, continuity and growth, which is a powerful representation of this new family. The spiral shape also mimics the shape of ocean waves, bringing the sense of the soothing, rhythmic ocean into their artwork. 

I suggested a circle canvas, rather than a more traditional square or rectangle, to fully express that sense of union, wholeness and eternity. Visually, the circle is an organic shape that is soft and comforting, without harsh corners or lines. Its curves and rounded edges are soothing and calming, and mimic the soft rolling waves of the sea. I focused on a cool color palette of blues and teals to represent the colors of the ocean and the calm feelings of serenity and peace. 



In addition to the final draft design, I also developed two alternative designs to offer multiple selections to choose from. I sketched these designs with ink pen on paper and then painted them with watercolor paints to create a rough draft design for each selection. Although each design symbolized their growing family of three, the circle canvas design was chosen for its uniqueness and sense of flow and unity. My clients requested that I add a single shell in the middle of the piece to complete the circle. This was a meaningful suggestion and very symbolic of the new life that they were building together.



Once the final design was determined,  I got to work on the canvas. I first sketched the basic design onto the surface of the canvas. This provides me with a rough outline to follow as I add layer upon layer of paint and natural materials to the surface. 



Next, I added layers of color to build up the background of the piece, using eco-conscious water soluble oil paints. Color selection is an important aspect of the artwork because it can deeply affect the way we feel, and evoke specific moods, emotions and memories.

In this piece, turquoise blues and teal greens were used to symbolize the colors of the ocean where the couple was married. These cool hues create the calm feelings of the ocean and radiate tranquility, serenity and peace. I alternated layers of color with layers of metallic paint to create a luminous sheen in the final artwork. This results in a dynamic finish that transforms with the viewing angle and with the changing of the light, adding an extra luminescence to the piece.



After each layer of paint was completely dry,  I began adding natural materials to the surface. This is achieved by first properly cleaning the materials and then adhering them to the surface with a heavy duty non-toxic water based glue. 

Shells, sand and pebbles that the couple collected from the beach where they were married are incorporated into the artwork, to capture that place in nature forever and to remember the beautiful atmosphere and the memories they made there. 

Each spiral shape was created with a different organic material to celebrate the individuality of each person and to signify the separate parts coming together to create a greater whole. The spirals are met in the middle by a small puka shell, which solidifies the family together as one.



The final piece is a beautiful representation of Emily and Chris’s marriage, and fulfills all of their wishes for their artwork. The design layout symbolizes their sacred union and the growth of their blended family. The colors and materials re-create the calm and tranquil feelings of being at the ocean. The inclusion of sand and shells from the actual beach where they were married further personalizes the artwork and tells their unique love story.  When looking at their artwork, they are taken back to that moment in time, as if they were on the beach exchanging their vows, surrounded by beautiful nature and experiencing their special day all over again.


Nature Inspired Custom Wedding Art by Jill Lena Ford spirals with natural materials sand, shells and blue and green paint colors


My clients were so moved by their artwork and they had these words to share: 

“We absolutely love our wedding painting! It reminds us of our wedding day, and has such personal meaning to us. When my husband proposed to me, he also proposed to my young daughter. He even read vows to both of us at our ceremony. We truly became a new family that day. We wanted something special to signify this moment for us, and we are so happy we found Jill’s wedding paintings.

I was speechless when I first saw our artwork. I felt hypnotically drawn into it. It took us back to our wedding day, and I felt that sense of calm and tranquility like we were standing at the ocean again. I love that our artwork is made with sand and shells from the beach where we were married. It feels so precious and special – it’s truly made just for us! 

Inspecting the details further, we appreciated the accurateness of the way that our blended family was represented. The design was custom made for us and perfectly symbolizes our growing family. Jill truly took our story, and represented it in our artwork. 

Our artwork reminds us of why we made this choice to be a family, and captures the magic and possibilities of our future. It fills our home with love and we will treasure it forever.”