View Full Version : first exhibit - help please

06-16-2009, 08:57 PM
Hello all!

I was approach by a friend some time ago to do a first exhibit of my work. At that time i felt it was too soon.

Now i feel like i can put something decent together for November but i've decided that this first exhibit must be a fundraiser for charity. So even if i will not be making a dime out of it, i do want my charity organization (Kiwanis) to make a decent amount of money with it. So i need a little guidance to get it right.

I've been told that this exhibit must include at least 30 paintings in different sizes. I would love to hear your thoughts on this magic number. I'm thinking i won't do anything smaller than 16x20. Largest will be 26x39 (at least 5 of these).

Together with my framer we have estimated that frames will add up to approximately US$3,000, so i will try to get a sponsor for the frames.
Question: Does it make sense to price the art work excluding frames? Or should i price it including frames in preparation of a future exhibit where i may not have the luxury of sponsored frames? I'm thinking option 1 would make the prices seem more attractive, whereas option 2 would work against this, but would be a more realistic price.

How do you feel about US$0.40 per square inch of painting for princing, considering i'm an unknown artist and this is my first exhibit? Too low, too high or reasonable?

And finally, "theme"... i thought i would do a series of my glowing trees, which i think are really interesting and people seem to like a lot. Besides, i think they're "me". But i certainly don't want to do 30 glowing tree paintings for that one exhhibit.

I want to mix it up a bit, but i'm not sure if there are conventions i should keep in mind theme-wise. Any ideas? How do you decide what belongs in your exhibit? Do you try a homogeneous set of paintings? Do you go eclectic? Does it matter?

Your words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated. I'm kind of lost here.


06-17-2009, 07:15 AM
Congratulations, Annette! Wonderful!

I guess you'll get as many opinions as there are posters in this thread...

Actually, I think 30 are too many. I had 30 at my latest, and people were sort of overwhelmed. 15 to 18 or so of your *best* work is what I'd recommend.

Then you could add a few small ones, for the people who love your paintings but are short of funds. Worked for me, anyway.

Price: What do other artists in your area ask for? (of same skill-level as you, and unknown.) I'm pricing my paintings as if they were oils. And in the middle range of an unknown artist.

You see, you set the standard for you second exhibition with your first. If you price very low for your first, then it will be very difficult to raise your prices for the next one (except by very little). As most of the people coming and buying will be people you know, they will remember what you asked for.

Frames are a huge cost. And they will be next time too. They are not your work, so while you give, and can give, your own work to charity, I'd recommend that the cost of frames are covered in sales, and that you use that money for framing the second exhibition. Unless you do get someone to sponsor the frames for sake of the charity.

I've grouped themes, and also dominating colour/colour temperature. I had three very cool paintings with lots of blue in them, so they hung together, looking good together. Then I hung some odd paintings (no theme) but with lots of red in them next to a fixed tapestry belonging to the venue that was all red. Those were the only paintings enhanced by that red. Then I had a group of landscapes with water in them, and another with florals. That kind of thing of grouping them, so the exhibition didn't become too scattered and busy in look.

And remember, invite five times as many people as you want to actually come. If you want 100 people, invite 500. Normally about 20% actually do show up.

Good luck!


06-17-2009, 08:34 AM
Congrats! I love the glowing trees and I am sure they'll be a hit. They are unique!!!

. . . i won't do anything smaller than 16x20.
So, if my very rough calculations are correct, the least expensive framed piece would be about $175? Right? If you are committed to thirty pieces, you might want to offer some of these matted but not framed, for less $$.

It would also be neat to do some really small pieces, framed, for folks who fall in love with the glowing trees, want to buy, but aren't ready for $150. They will remember you and come back when they see your work again.

Just a thought. Your show will "hang" great, and look really impressive, given the theme. Bravo!!


Deborah Secor
06-17-2009, 02:17 PM
Great, Annette!

I think 20 paintings would be a better target number. If you know where you'll be exhibiting the work, find out if you can group work on various walls, featuring the different subjects or colors as Charlie suggested.

You may work things our differently where you are, but in my experience having someone donate the frames is difficult. If they will donate them to YOU, that's one thing, but for charity it's another, since you might not sell them all at this show. Personally I'd cut the number of framed paintings and underwrite the cost myself. I agree with Charlie. I'd donate my profits, after covering the costs of framing and doing the show, to the charity.

Math isn't my best subject, but do I understand that you would sell a 26x39" painting, framed, for around $400? Here in New Mexico that sounds really low, but you have to decide what makes sense in your area. I'd expect to see a painting that large, even painted by a 'beginner' (good enough to have a one-man show, I might point out), to go for twice that, and still be reasonable.

Your price needs to cover the cost of:

your materials (paper, pastels--a few anyway, frame, mat, glass)
your show (rent, ads, food & beverages)
your time (a portion, as is reasonable)
as well as being in proportion to local pricing.

Keep us informed as you go along!