Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to Get Gallery Representation with Small Paintings

Here's some personal advice on how I got gallery representation using my small paintings. I think this could help everyone!

You may want to consider getting together a group of small paintings for submission to galleries that hold Holiday Shows or Small Works Shows that may occur at any time of the year. Even if you never have painted small, it may be worth setting some time aside to amass a grouping specifically for this purpose. You may be able to increase your exposure not only in your immediate area but state and countrywide.

I needed to downsize my canvas size because of a rotator cuff injury but you may downsize out of choice. Entering Holiday Shows led me to year-round representation in many parts of the U.S. and even in Japan! Since small paintings are so easy to ship international galleries are no longer beyond your reach. Japan and other densely populated countries are a great marker for small paintings since their living areas tend to be small.
There is also a
daily painting movement that is very strong, so you might find yourself involved in online sales! Carol Marine gives workshops and has been contracted to write a book for Ten Speed Press which is under Random House. It’s due out in a year and a half. There are quite a few on-line galleries open to anyone who cares to meet their guidelines.
There are two basic things you need to do in order to get gallery representation: assemble a body of work and then research which galleries you’d like to approach.

You want to make sure that you put your best efforts into these small works. They represent you, even if they are not the same size as your usual work. One way to start painting smaller is to gradually decrease the sizes of your canvas. Lets say you usually paint 20x24 inch canvases. Try doing the same composition 12x 16 then 8x10. If you want to go even smaller you can try 6x8. You can take a photo of the regular size painting and then print it out in smaller increments to see how it will look. Since artists are so visual, talking about it might not do it. Seeing it smaller makes a world of difference.

I remember one day wandering into a gallery that had a holiday of show of small paintings.The gallery owner suggested painting smaller pieces for possible inclusion in the show the following year. At the time, this seemed unlikely since I was experiencing shoulder pain and wasn’t sure if painting was even a remote possibility. Upon returning home to my studio, there was an old show announcement tacked to the bulletin board. The postcard was 4x6 inches and the reduced image size taught me to look at my work in a whole new light. (Painting small doesn’t require any shoulder movement! Yeah!) You too may have some old invitational postcards of your work, or you can scan or photograph your paintings and see how they would look at a smaller scale.
Some artists use just portions of their compositions, For instance, if you usually include everything but the kitchen sink in your still life, you may just paint one cup and saucer with a piece of fruit. Look at
Qiang Huang to see how he does this. If you want more detailed information about painting small, check out my ibooks, Watercolor Harmony and Oil Painting Harmony which include many small painting videos and my hard copy book Big Art, Small Canvas.
The second part of using small paintings to get gallery representation is to do your research. The internet has made this extremely easy. Google “holiday art shows” or “small works art shows” to start. Then add your state, or if you don’t mind shipping fees, you can go wild and include all the states. Using UPS or FedEx is very reasonable for small boxes. Just remember to pad and insure them.

There are art magazines that have a section devoted to artist opportunities. Be aware that they may start advertising during the summer. Southwest Art Magazine is one of may favorites along with Professional Artist Magazine and the newspaper Art Times. You can get it by subscription or may be lucky enough to see it displayed at a gallery or museum in your area. Be sure to make note of the galleries that advertise their Holiday Shows in November or December. It may be too late to enter that year, but you can be ready for the next season.
Once you’ve been accepted to either a holiday show or a small works show you can use it as a stepping stone to gain representation by the gallery. At this point you can use the same methods that you would normally use for approaching a gallery. There is much advice for this
online. You now have your foot in the door because you’ve already had somenpersonal contact, they’ve seen your work and hopefully sold some!