Get Ready to Show Off | Advice For Exhibiting Your Art

Editor’s note: Here’s a conundrum:
One of our newsletter readers recently had a question: He doesn’t have the confidence to exhibit his art and doesn’t want to do so only for money, but he pointed out that it takes money to exhibit one’s art. It sounds like a vicious circle and a common one that you may have experienced yourself. I have my own philosophy about confidence that I can offer, which is basically that life is too short to be self-conscious. I feel like we owe it to society to express ourselves via our gifts of creativity. It just amazes me when someone can make something out of nothing, and I know I’m not alone in this.

You have to be able to cross the line from fear to a humble sense of pride. If others are telling you that your art is well done and you’ve put the time and work into doing your best, then believe them. You’ll feel your wings begin to spread when you realize that your art is good, and you should show it to others, sell it, teach it, thrive with it.

I could go on about that for ages, but I wasn’t sure how to respond to this reader’s question about exhibiting, specifically. So I went to my friend and co-blogger, Jean Pederson, for her professional input. She was inspired to write the following blog. Enjoy! ~Cherie

Get Ready to Show Off | Advice For Exhibiting Your Art by Jean Pederson

Have you been painting for a while? Have you developed a level of proficiency and a pile of paintings? Now what? I’m sure you’re filled with several questions just as I was. There’s a certain freedom in painting for yourself, with no worry for the market or client, but you may want to show your paintings. Where do you start? How will you exhibit your art? Where will you exhibit your work?

What kind of monetary commitment is required to get started? Expenses can creep up on you:  framing, rental of exhibition space, jury fees, advertising costs, and more.

The Vessel by Jean Pederson

I entered “The Vessel” in the Canadian Institute of Portrait Painters 2010 exhibition. It won Best of Watercolour.

Ready to Exhibit Your Art? Here Are Steps You Can Take

1. Try a home show and invite your friends. Hang the work on your walls. Get a few easels and set them up for viewing. Offer refreshments and appetizers to make guests feel at home to browse. See if a friend or family member will help you with serving, chatting, and general host duties. If you want to cover some of your expenses you can consider having the work for sale.

2. Connect with a local business and see if they might be interested in hanging your work in their establishment. Coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques are often open for such arrangements.

3. Get together with a few other artists and rent a space for your exhibition. You can share the expenses, promotional material, guest list, set up, and so on.

4. Enter juried exhibitions. You will need a professional digital image of your work. Should you be selected, you’ll have to make sure that your painting conforms to the proper framing expectations and crate your work for safe shipping. The artist is responsible for shipping costs each way.

Some juried exhibitions will insist that you offer your paintings for sale, so read the details before entering. You don’t want to get caught in a situation that you didn’t expect. The benefits are that they do all of the PR, set up, and take down. Usually these organizations have a following of patrons, so you’re likely to have a large number of people see your work. Some juried exhibitions will offer awards, and you may walk away with some cash or product as icing on the cake.

5. Once you’ve established a constant sales record, exhibitions for your CV (curriculum vitae) and client list, you may be interested in applying to artist-run galleries or commercial galleries. These establishments have costs attached to the operating and managing of the facility, so some kind of commission will be expected from you for their time, energy, and expenses.

So are you ready for the challenge? Make a plan and get started!

Good luck,

Learn more from Mixed Media Artist Jean Pederson
Mixed Media Painting Workshop: Explore Mediums, Techniques, and the Personal Artistic Journey (book or download)
Expressive Portraits: Watercolor and Mixed Media Techniques (paperback)
Wet Glazing Watercolor Portrait (DVD)
Watercolor Artist, August 2011: Create the illusion of depth in your paintings with these simple tips and helpful illustrations of linear and aerial perspective. (article)
• See her work at

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