View Full Version : Preparing for my first exhibit- need help!

10-12-2011, 03:21 PM
I have finally committed to an exhibit. It's only at a local medical center, so I'm sure they are less picky than a museum may be, but still a BIG step for me. The last time my art was displayed was elementary school, no kidding.

I need at least 15 framed pieces. I have a lot of art, the framing is a bit tough, but I'm working on that. My questions are:
1. is it ok to mix mediums? I work in watercolor, colored pencil, ink, pastel and acrylic.
2. can they be literally all over the place with subject matter, size, style?
3. If I can't afford to get all of the pieces framed, can I mix in photography since it's easy to frame 8x10s?
4. Is it ok to include older (already framed!) pieces. (there are two I was thinking about including from WAY back.

I don't know if this would be the place to post a bunch of artwork for some advice on what to NOT use, what should be reworked, etc. I don't really have someone to critique the selections as a whole. I haven't spent anytime in the other forums, so I feel like a stranger there.

I don't want to appear disjointed or unfocused. I think working as a designer sort of made my style become whatever the customer needed it to be. Heck, they even had me cartooning at one point!

I only have about 6-8 weeks to prepare and I'm getting nervous.

Barbara WC
10-12-2011, 04:50 PM
How did you get into the show? Did you have to submit an application and examples of your work?

One suggestion might be to ask the person that coordinated the exhibit- however you got in, they selected you for a reason, so they might be looking for something specific in your work.

I recently read a jurors statement for a watercolor specific show- she said she prefers to see a body of work created in a similar style with a similar subject matter- every artist has a voice, and she prefers to see unity in their work.

However, if this show wasn't juried in the typcial sense, there is likely more leeway.

Do let us know what you had to present to be asked to exhibit your work, and that might help with ideas to help you.

10-12-2011, 05:00 PM
I will have an "interview" a few weeks before when they will review samples of my work. It's more to decorate their walls for a couple weeks than anything else. I didn't get much more info than "at least 15 pieces framed". Not much to go on. It seems I have a lot of leeway.

I thought I'd start with an easy place and move on from there if I get a favorable response. I have been out of the fine arts world for a while.

Barbara WC
10-12-2011, 05:08 PM
Wow, sounds like a lot of leeway, not sure I'd be up for something so open ended!

What about pulling out all your work and grouping them different ways- try to find some unity, either by grouping subject matter, medium or style. Literally, pull it all out into your living room, line them up different ways until you find the most pleasing combination. It could even be something so obscure as each painting has some red in it, even something that simple can make a grouping look unified.

Do you know if they will be all displayed in the same areas? If not, that probably gives you a lot more leeway.

Good luck!

10-12-2011, 05:20 PM
Knowing absolutely nothing of the way and means you got into this show, I will give you my 2 cents regarding what I think you should do, to benefit you.

I would display paintings showing a sense of unity. Have a theme of sorts. It could be "Pastels Only", or "Local Landscapes", or "Portraits - Heart and Soul", or "Everyday Still Life", etc.... It doesn't matter what the theme, but there should be a theme. Ideally, the paintings should be framed in a similar manner, and the sizes should be similar. I wouldn't display one or two in black frames, a couple in wood, a metal frame, and the rest in gold. I wouldn't hang one 5"x7", and the rest be "16x20" or larger. You see where I'm going? As a whole, the show should stand on it's own and look like it is a display of one artist.

I've displayed my miniatures, but I made sure they were displayed together so it gave a stronger impression, and they were all framed very much the same way. I did a portrait show, and because it was all portraits, the fact that some were graphite and some were pastel, and the frames weren't identical, didn't seem to matter. It seemed to work because the subject was the same. I did frame all the graphite in black frames, which gave unity. The pastels were in either wood or soft gold, so they worked well together.

Think about what you want to say, and how you want the display to look as a whole. It's not about one painting, it's about you and how you want your art to be seen.

Remember, I don't know if you have any restrictions you need to adhere to. If you do, that is a game changer for sure. But I'd think the venue wants the display to look as professional as possible, so I'm sure they will be open to your ideas and input.

One last thing, I never display my miniatures unless they are behind glass and locked. They are too easy to put in a large purse, or under a coat. I hate to be overly cautious, but I just never feel comfortable having them on display without taking some caution. Not everybody is nice, sad to say.

P.S. I just saw your post about the interview. If you have that much leeway, then I would definitely pick a theme and stick with it. If you are doing everything, even the framing, then it gives you a good opportunity to start out right, so to speak, with everything unified.

Good luck, it sounds like it should be great.

10-12-2011, 05:44 PM
Don't get your panties in a dither.....it's only a medical building and they want something on their bare walls.......yes, your old paintings will be fine.....mixing mediums shows you are a complete artist, just not one sided....if you have to, yes, use some of your photos....hate to see photos in an art exhibit, but in this case they will be fine......

you never know, some rich Dr. may take a fancy to your work and want to see more......that's why you display......to catch the eye of prospected customers....

you will be fine......canning any apple sauce yet.....it's apple season?

best of luck to you.....and please, we're here to help......'blue...,' :wave:

10-12-2011, 05:54 PM
I agree with groupings. But it may be difficult...
I should have both sides of a rather long entry hallway to work with. I don't even know where to start with separating them. I need to get things together and head to the Mother-In-law's, the dogs are not so easy to work around. she is helping me with framing, her previous profession (yes, I'm lucky). The frames I have purchased so far are all simple and many have the same profile. Unfortunatly there are several that I will need custom framed because of the sizes, either big or odd shaped.
I am trying to keep in mind a higher goal in the future (maybe a gallery or art museum?) and want to make sure I can adhere to stricter guidelines. I hate framing and don't want to do it twice! I was going to ask about security but though I was paranoid, guess not! They get a lot of traffic through there.

here are two of the ones I am thinking of starting with. top one a pastel (16x20), second is a WIP acrylic (24x24).

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Oct-2011/215035-0_sunflower_pastel.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Oct-2011/215035-0_sunflower_acrylic.jpg

10-12-2011, 06:01 PM
I was hoping someone (anyone!) would take an interest in my work. I like my part time job ok, but would love to sell a little art too. It's an expensive "hobby". Maybe my neurologist will buy one with all my co-pay money.

I know a medical center isn't MOMA, but it's a start! I tried to post more potentials, but I can't download (?)

(DONE with canning after 47 pints of applesauce, AMEN!:clap: )

10-12-2011, 06:08 PM
pray tell, what are you worrying for.....these are fabulous.....people love 'sunflowers' and these are well done.....if anything sells, they will.....

it's going to be a exquisite show with work like this displayed.....yes, you want to think down the line because you have talent,,,,,many more shows coming up, galleries, etc......go get em.......

10-12-2011, 06:15 PM
first 16x20 watercolor.
second- 20x30 tempra
third 11x14 watercolor
fourth 18x24 ink on multimedia board
(the photos aren't so good, still trying not to hate the new camera)
see what I mean, other than the sunflowers, nothing in common...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Oct-2011/215035-0_wild_blond_h2o_color.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Oct-2011/215035-0_crushed_coke.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Oct-2011/215035-0_produce_stand_Clarian_PA.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Oct-2011/215035-0_oak_on_rt_45.jpg

10-12-2011, 06:18 PM
Wow! Both of these are great ( I know one's a WIP but it's gonna be great). I don't suppose you can do 15 Sunflowers in the next few weeks though!

If you don't have a body of work which you can "unify" then show your diversity instead, this time. When it comes to galleries and exhibitions you may want to choose either a medium or a subject to display at each venue.

10-12-2011, 06:18 PM
I'm going to be @ MOMA on Thurs of next week....I'll see if they have a spot for you......:D

tell them for each painting they take, a pint of apple sauce goes along.....

keep us updated on your progress with the show......by the way, with your ability and talent, you should be painting and pick up a few jars of Motts apple sauce at the store..... use that talent you have been given, start your Professional art career now.....you're good......

10-12-2011, 06:26 PM
I keep posting at the same time as you Blue- thank you. I am a little private with my art, most people don't know I even paint. My sister keeps telling me "God gave you a gift, you need to use it". I keep hoping He'll help me get some direction and maybe find where I'm supposed to be.

I was reading someone's post not so long ago about cows and sunflowers selling well- just as I finished 2 sunflower and 2 cow pieces. I must be fashionable? I guess if there was ANY type of theme it would be gardening,farming, nature- ooops forgot the coke can...

heres the cows-
9x12 pastel
18x24 pastel (thinking about reworking this one a little, not enough contrast?)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Oct-2011/215035-0_herefords_in_the_morning.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Oct-2011/215035-0_holstien_heffers.jpg

10-12-2011, 06:36 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Oct-2011/215035-IMG_0092.JPG Thank you Ruthie, Blue.

I really am messed up about this. I have successfully hidden on our lovely 126+ acres for 13 years. I'm comfortable here. The only reason I haven't become a "crazy cat lady" is because I'm sooooo allergic to cats.

Blue- you haven't tryed my applesauce... Motts isn't even close. I'll can more next year if it will get me into MOMA!

Here's some of the photos I've concidered, don't know if I have any talent with photography, but there are too many beautiful things to paint, have to shot them while you can! See, even my photos are all over the place...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Oct-2011/215035-P1000543.JPG http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Oct-2011/215035-IMG_3436.JPG http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Oct-2011/215035-P1030326.JPG

10-12-2011, 06:50 PM
been doing shows for years and have never themed....and I show acrylics, pastels and WC's together.......I probably have done more Poppies and Sunflowers along with sailboats but also show 'amish buggies' along with colorfull fall scenes.....you must remember that each person likes something different, so you have to have paintings that appeal to a diverse gtoup....I love doing 'abstract work', but it just doesn't sell well now....I have a 'best in show' abstract that has been in a gallery for a number of years and nothing but big, bright, florals move.......I've been given a gift and I used it....you have received that same gift, so please use it......you will make a lot of people very happy with your creations, so please, you owe it to society and whoever gave you the ability will be delighted that you are utilizing it........

10-12-2011, 07:50 PM
Oh my, your work is georgous! Those sunflowers are to die for, well all of it is really! Stop hiding, get this work out there - people will buy it!

'blue does have a point, diversifing is probably fine, especially in this type of venue. You never know who will walk in and what they will like. Hopefully you will have something for everyone. If it were a more formal setting, maybe unifying makes sense, but this seems more casual.

Great stuff, really nice. I'd be surprised if you didn't sell something!

10-12-2011, 08:37 PM
Thanks Blue, Allydoodle. I appreciate it. Maybe my theme could be "All Over the Place". I really wonder how some of you can make work so easy to identify, with a personaliity and style.

10-12-2011, 11:01 PM
Thanks Blue, Allydoodle. I appreciate it. Maybe my theme could be "All Over the Place". I really wonder how some of you can make work so easy to identify, with a personaliity and style.

Oh, your work is definitely 'your style' with great personality, I see consistency in your work for sure. Just because it is of different subjects and mediums doesn't mean you don't have your own style, you do. I think it shows your great diversity and talent, all good. Just keep doing what you're doing, you're painting some wonderful art. Eventually you will have an opportunity to show in a venue where a theme will be desired, and when that time comes you'll be ready I'm sure. If you really analyze your work now, I'm sure you could come up with enough work to show a theme. Now that you have some idea of what might come up down the road, you can even start thinking about what to paint to meet that end (or not, if you so choose). Either way, beautiful work. It will look wonderful all hanging together.

Best of luck!

the drover's dog
10-13-2011, 12:29 AM
Oh wow! Fabulous work. Your style shines through no matter the subject. This alone unifies things. I can see a run of sunflowers and a run of food still lifes and....... The tree is the odd one out, but you surely have others in this medium so group them together even if it's only two or three. One monotone on it's own amongst so much exuberant colour would look strange.

Good luck, hope you sell them all. They should do well.


10-13-2011, 04:13 AM
Great work! stop worrying so much you are really good! :grouphug:
The sunflowers are my personal favourites , I would make sure they have a particularly prominent placing.

10-13-2011, 07:12 AM
Wow great work you should definitely show this. All of them are great and of the same super quality show them all!!!

10-13-2011, 08:38 AM
Thank you Allydoodle, Doversdog, Equinespirit and Turpintine45. I appreciate the comments, I may find courage go through with this yet. and maybe continue with something more challenging.

Funny thing about the sunflower pictures. I have a BIG vegetable garden and let some volunteers grow where ever they want. That sunflower started in my row of greenbeans, got to be about 10 feet tall. I called it my "wild blond" because of not planting it and also because when it was opening it looked like a little blond girl with wild bedhead. I took a bunch of pictures. My husband likes the watercolor one best, he's not crazy about pastels in general. He keeps asking me when I'm going to try oil painting...

I'll have to try and find some more b/w drawings. I agree it's odd man out.
If any of you see something that can be changed to make any of these better, please let me know. I need to get good photos of them and get framing soon.

there is a couple of colored pencil drawings I'm not sure are "done". I've wanted to post them for ideas on how to finish them or if they look done now. If anyone has any suggestions, I value your opinions.

thanks again for everything. the art that I posted has all been in the last 1.5 years- this forum has helped with ALL my work!
26x26 and 18x22.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Oct-2011/215035-0_4_fish.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Oct-2011/215035-0_2_fish.jpg

10-13-2011, 09:03 AM
Oh I love the goldfish! why dont you think they are done? I suppose the top one could maybe do with some water/bubbles/stems or something in the BG? Maybe some bubbles in the second ? :confused:

10-13-2011, 09:42 AM
thank you
the one on top seems more unfinished to me. I thought about adding a background, but it took so long to get it to that point, I'd hate to screw it up with a bad choice. I have let it sit around for a couple months waiting for something to come to me, but I may be running out of time. I let work "ferment" sometimes for months before I call it done. this one has been sitting over a year. I may call this one done and try it again from the beginning, maybe on Clayboard. I did try a similar one in pastels, but didn't like it.

Kathryn Wilson
10-13-2011, 10:04 AM
Good luck on your show - I'm getting ready to hang mine today (gulp) and I have a diversity of subjects and I was told I didn't have to have them all framed the same way. So each gallery or space you exhibit in will have a different set of "rules." It's best to be in contact with the person who has been in contact with you so that you can ask questions as you go along.

I love the goldfish and especially the one on top - leave it be!

10-13-2011, 10:08 AM
Kathryn. Thanks and Best of luck with your show!

10-13-2011, 11:33 AM
don't touch the original top goldfish yet.....print out a couple of copies from your computer......color in the copy a turquoise light blue with some bubbles in various places.....see how you like it......that background does need a little something......but don't touch the originl until you are happy with the copy version......

as stated with 'sunflowers', goldfish sell well......you're on your way to a great show......you'll need armed guards to take you to the bank with all that loot.....:thumbsup:

10-13-2011, 01:20 PM
Let me chime in: your work is beautiful, and all the paintings are you in style.

Top goldfish: It is stylized, so IMHO it stands well as is, maybe a flat background, but it is fine as is.

Mixed things work well. I'd group them in the venue, according to what is similar in colour and expression, not according to medium. Like Blue said, different people like different things. The one who loves drama won't buy a quiet meditative piece, or vice versa.

Right now I'm preparing my own show, self-organised (= total hysteria), and I have 8 days to do it, and 13 paintings to frame... subjects and styles all over the place, as that is what works for me. (I've never understood why galleries like 20 near identical paintings. That'd bore me to tears.)

Blue, I did a sunflower, as you said they sell, so we'll see. Goldfish, eh? Or Koi?

10-13-2011, 04:42 PM
Blue, I did a sunflower.........

gosh Charlie, I hope you still have both your ears......:D

as you are smiling going to the bank with the money from the 'sunflower', think of poor old 'blue...........:lol:

best of everything with the show....wish I could be there to see it and cheer you on......I know your work....it will be sensational.......:thumbsup:

10-13-2011, 05:15 PM
Charlie, Goodluck!- I'm glad I don't have to do much more than "show up" or I'd be twice as crazy. I love your work, it will go well.

Blue- I had thought of overlaying tracing paper on the goldfish and trying different backgrounds, but I like your idea better, May just mess around with that a little tonight. thanks for the idea.