Just 3 mins to paint Elvis

CATCH HIM LIVE: Speed painter Brad Blaze, whose real name is Bradley Wightman, will perform in front of a 6,000-strong crowd here at U Picnic in West Coast Park on Saturday.


    Oct 03, 2013

    Just 3 mins to paint Elvis

    In less than five minutes, Australian speed painter Brad Blaze is able to complete a large portrait of a well-known personality, such as Steve Jobs or Michael Jackson.

    But it doesn't stop there. With a whisk of his brush, Blaze - whose real name is Bradley Wightman - is able to transform the portrait into that of another face.

    The 39-year-old, who has painted in front of audiences around the world, as well as for prime ministers, sports celebrities and rock stars, will be here on Saturday to perform in front of a 6,000-strong crowd at U Picnic, Singapore's largest family picnic organised by NTUC, to be held in West Coast Park.

    What is speed painting?

    Speed painting, as a performance, is painting large, oversized paintings onstage.

    I have painted portraits of four prime ministers and famous sports people, such as Tiger Woods, in front of an audience.

    I would normally try to let my audience guess the image in my paintings, and I would add elements of excitement and high energy by painting each portrait in less than six minutes.

    How did you get into speed painting?

    I got into this career by accident.

    I have always loved drawing since I was a child. I was working in insurance litigation and, to reduce my stress level, I started drawing caricatures. Then I began to draw "live" at parties and events.

    One thing led to another, and I eventually found myself performing onstage. It was exciting!

    It took me a few years to hone my skills. I tweaked my act a little and, all of a sudden, companies started to hire me for their conferences and dinner-and-dance events.

    I was also being invited to travel to various locations to paint portraits of chief executives and guests of honour at events.

    You paint with both hands. Are you ambidextrous?

    I had to learn (how) so as to be able to paint fast enough.

    I learnt to play the piano when I was a kid. It's the same concept, really. And it becomes more natural when you practise enough.

    How long do you take to complete a coloured portrait?

    There are certain paintings of rock stars and famous people, such as Einstein and Elvis Presley, that I am able to complete in about three minutes.

    However, there are other paintings that may require a bit more time (about five to six minutes) as I am not too familiar with (the faces).

    Have you timed your fastest painting?

    I have never timed my fastest painting, but I know the music (that accompanies my painting of) an Einstein portrait lasts just over three minutes.

    My paintings are choreographed to music, so I know that I have to finish it within a certain time frame.

    Do you feel nervous painting in front of an audience?

    I used to get very nervous painting in front of an audience, even if I was just drawing caricatures in front of someone.

    However, I have overcome that and have been painting in the presence of famous personalities.

    If you practise long enough, over time, you will gain the experience and confidence in your skills. The nervousness will go away eventually.

    Do you practise beforehand?

    These days, I tend to do a few shows in a week. Hence, I don't have the luxury of time to practise as much as before.

    However, painting is still my passion, and I paint even in my spare time.

    What can audiences expect from you on Saturday?

    I can't reveal too much, but I have recently started painting in gold.

    It is visually stunning and I can't wait to reveal this in Singapore! You'll have to watch closely, though. Blink and you might miss it.