Union Church, Mississippi

Going to her wedding on May 5, 1987, Charlotte Black knew something was wrong. As it turned out, she was right. Her fiancÚ Sam Gaines never arrived at the Chapel of Love in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. His mother later told her that “he got cold feet.”

Supported by her friends and family, Charlotte Black went on with her life. She invited Emily Pepper, her best friend to accompany her to Tahiti for the ten-day honeymoon vacation at the Beachcomber Parkroyal Resort in Moorea. Only a few days into their vacation, they became bored with lounging in their “Garden Suite Bungalow,” twice taking the lagoon excursions, and eating every variety of salad in the two resort restaurants. Since Emily Pepper could not swim, they had no use for the “Dolphin Quest” scuba diving center .

The morning of their sixth day, they rented mopeds and began to explore the island, finding an art gallery featuring the paintings of Edgar Leeteg. Called the “American Gauguin,” from 1933-1953, Leeteg produced over 1,700 works on velveteen, becoming rich from tourist patronage. Leeteg is credited with making the “first” black velvet painting, though the method actually dates back to the British painter Francis Town (1738-1826).

Charlotte Black had taken two art classes in high school and was inspired by the sculptural use of light in Leeteg’s representations of Tahitian women. She decided that she would take up painting on her return home.

The idea of painting brides came to her while looking through the wedding listings in the Sunday Southern Style section of the Clarion Ledger. Hoping to be married herself someday, she identified with the smiling women dressed in white. Her paintings were faithfully copied from the newspaper photographs. She had completed almost twenty bride paintings before meeting and marrying Charles White. Mr. White, who makes furniture as a hobby, helped her frame the paintings using Mississippi Poplar finished with silver enamel spray paint.

She continues to paint in her spare time, mostly pet portraits and horses. Happily married, she has chosen not to make any more bride paintings.