Live with Gianna Perani
WORDS BY HEATHER L. YOUNG
If an artist’s work should be judged by the emotion it evokes in the viewer, Gianna Perani’s portfolio brings joy. Her palette infuses bright pinks and cerulean blues into coastal landscapes. Her broad strokes add movement to a slightly abstracted style, fully of whimsy. The perfect attributes for a live wedding painter.
Live painting is quickly gaining traction in the wedding industry. As Gianna says, “People like it because it’s grounding, there’s no technology, it just the simplicity of it.” Gianna sets up her easel hours before the event takes place. She’s already consulted with the couple about the precise moment they want to capture, the first kiss, the first dance… then she troubleshoots. Where can she stand and not be in the way of the procession? What if it rains? She’s learned to navigate gusty winds and swirling sands at beach weddings and even had to “plan b” when the pollen was so heavy in the air it turned her canvas yellow. The pressures of live painting on the most important day of someone’s life are not for the faint of heart.
So how does a once painfully shy child end up in this field? Gianna takes me back to her pre-school days when her first teacher rudely asked her mother “What’s wrong with your child? She hasn’t said a word all day.” Gianna’s mother withdrew her from the school, and they spent their days together crafting and creating for hours on end. In the first grade, she drew her self-portrait and said, “I’m going to be an artist one day.” Her love for art multiplied through the years, eventually earning her acceptance into a magnet middle school program with a focus on art. Summers were spent at art camps. She dabbled with sewing, jewelry design, all things that fed into being the quiet kid.
She eventually made her way to Richmond Hill High School where she discovered the Broadcast Pathway Program, which at the time was run by now assistant principal, Patrick Means. Nervous for her first student newscast, Patrick gave her a piece of advice she’s held onto throughout her career; “Fake it until you make it. Eventually you won’t even realize when you’re doing it.” Gianna credits this direction for allowing her to “Finally acknowledge that I was capable, and this was my time to shine.”
Fast forward a few years, and Gianna is a broadcast journalism major at the University of Georgia. She’s still making art and working as a bartender at a wedding venue on the side. The idea to try live painting crept into her mind and on a whim, she approached the wedding director about it. Little did she know, she would be contacted the next week with an opportunity to try it. She now had tremendous pressure to deliver. She slowly set up her station, found her rhythm and nailed it. She discovered her niche.
Gianna’s sense for important details brings her work to the next level. She once emphasized the one guest wearing a cowboy hat, only to find out it was the groom’s father who was dying from cancer. She spotted a framed photo of a grandparent on a table and chose to paint that person into the audience. A touching addition to those who surely wished they were there in real life. These are the little fine points that make her work cherished for years to come. She enjoys interacting with the wedding guests, and her live painting adds to the entertainment value of the wedding.
When asked what her favorite thing to paint is, she replies “Anything and everything! Paintings where I know it will mean a lot to someone.”
You’ll find tender portraits of mothers with their children and vibrant renderings of pets on her site, too. She has a full array of coastal seascapes and bird life, many of which can be found at Cohen’s Retreat in Savannah. Look for her to also pop up from time to time at the Richmond Hill Farmer’s Market. Follow her work on Instagram @giannaperaniart.