Society & Culture & Entertainment Visual Arts

Technique of Watercolor Paintings: WC10 Exhibitions

Holding a watercolor painting exhibition is a primary way to let the public know of the painter's name existence and quality of work.
There is no doubt the first exhibition is a great liberating experience.
It is the culmination of a dream ambition and it is difficult to know this has at last been realized even when it is actually happening.
The first gallery show is one that will never be forgotten.
It is a wonderful feeling.
The place is full and every one is chatting or calling to old friends across the gallery floor and raising their glasses in salute.
Around the gallery walls the paintings properly lit for the first time in a bright warm indirect sensation of light.
Family relatives are there smiling in reflected glory.
Children are hiding between the legs of the packed grown-ups.
Background Mozart is being played to add class to the proceedings and soften up potential buyers.
A rather distinguished looking person from the establishment has consented to commend the work of the painter to the wider public and is standing glass in hand ready to open the show having already let it be known which painting they would like to accept as a gift from the gallery.
The sounds of laughter and enjoyment gradually rise and red stickers appear on some of the paintings as the gallery owner seizes the opportunity of the moment to make sales during the flurry of excitement.
A spoon rattles a wineglass and eventually the gallery comes to order.
The gallery owner welcomes everyone and introduces the painter and then asks the distinguished visitor to open the show.
The distinguished visitor nods then smiles looks round the room to make sure the audience is quiet and still before beginning the address: 'It gives me great pleasure to see you all here this evening at this first exhibition and show of watercolor paintings by a new rising star to our painting community.
As you can see the walls are covered this evening by top class work carried out with assurance care and dedication by the painter.
I have already spoken to the many experienced painters here and they all confirm the merit in the work.
Watercolors are a difficult medium in which to paint.
I know this from my own experience as I too paint in watercolors but I admit I am almost inclined to regret the addition of another competent worker to our lists who makes my own efforts look even more vacuous than even I thought they were...
[laughter] ...
but seriously we are here to congratulate and support our painter with our best wishes many sales and hope for much success in the future.
I am honored to declare this exhibition well and truly open!' Loud applause follows with some cheering from the family.
If the painter decides to reply we may get ...
' Thank you for your very generous introduction and best wishes - I will try to live up to them in the future.
I would like to thank especially my spouse [...
good on yer Bill]...
and all those in my family who have supported me and wish to thank especially all of you here tonight who have come out despite the dreadful rain to help make this evening a success.
While I am here I would like to invite you to my next show one year from now.
Thank you very much again.
' Next you will probably conduct the distinguished visitor around the gallery walls and point to the red sticker on the painting the distinguished person admired so much and please to accept as a free gift.
The distinguished visitor laughs loud and accepts with surprise at the generosity of the gift and promises to 'treasure the painting for ever with many thanks.
' The opening show continues as gradually people drift away with their congratulations until closing time.
Now the world has finally opened up at last - 'and about time too!' you think.
In spite of everything the work may not sell.
If this is so this must not be taken a rejection of the work nor of its quality.
The work may indeed be awful.
On the other hand it may be good but not what the public wants hanging up in the living room just in case the neighbors take fright and feel they must uproot and go and live elsewhere.
Some painters repulse buyers with wrong attitude or they exhibit to the wrong audience.
Other painters over-sell their stuff without finding out what the client is interested in.
Some viewers never buy but never miss an opening of a show.
To exhibit means to show.
It is better to think of an exhibition as a show.
Start with a small show in a school hall as part of an annual festival of sorts and a place to get to know the ropes of exhibiting.
The goal is to network to make friends with leaders in the community and with those visitors who simply like to look at paintings.
Discuss watercolor painting with all who show interest in the subject.
It is amazing how a visitor will immediately assume how expert your work is and say how they always wished they had the talent to paint and have an exhibition of their own.
Start with a show of 10 paintings on a variety of different subjects to show the extent of your virtuosity.
The purpose of this is to see which subject type appeals most to both yourself and visitors.
Make a note of the time spent by visitors on each painting and note if they are men women or children.
Speak to all of your visitors and introduce yourself as the painter.
Discuss painting but most of all listen.
When you exhibit your paintings you actually open your inner self to others.
Public interest in psychology is high and visitors feel free to draw the most outrageous conclusions about your hidden views preferences and upbringing.
Some will analyze the meaning of your choice of color and others will draw political conclusions from details in the paintings as if they were runes cast in some sort of fortune-telling ritual.
Interest and knowledge of esoteric subjects too is high and this interest adds to unexpected range of questions about you.
Most painters are probably flattered by this attention but others perhaps - not so much.
I am urging you to be careful - you may be concerned.
Some painters know or feel this is happening but are not troubled.
Other painters may hold back and fear this invasion into their privacy and let their work become inhibited as a result.
A painting reveals more about us that any other thing.
There is nothing we can do about this - but beware.
Size of paintings at exhibitions is very important.
Select and show only half full-size pictures with subjects that mount in the horizontal frame.
Arrange the pictures in a single level straight row so that an imaginary line runs across the paintings a third of the way up the side of the picture at eyelevel.
Try spacing the pictures with half the length of the pictures between them.
This spacing may be affected by the variation in tone of the pictures.
Hang the paintings so they are equidistant apart.
A gallery creates a market for your paintings.
Do not stay with a particular gallery until you have tried the others.
I am not able to change galleries - I have to remain loyal.
I would only change my present gallery if I were not welcome there.
Find your gallery and stay with it or change gallery regularly to suit your mood.
Gallery fees and all the expenses when added up will probably absorb a third of your total sales.
Your expenses as a percentage of gross sales will probably drop as sales grow because expenses will remain more or less static.
Use an accountant's format to record all transactions stated with a final balance struck.
No working out what you owe and what is owed to you on the back of an envelope.
Be present in the gallery as long as you can.
Do not try to sell the pictures - instead - let clients buy.
If you are one for hard selling make it appear otherwise.
If not let the gallery owner or manager do the selling.
The gallery owner will not allow you to drive frequent clients away by crude selling.
Keep your own record of each picture displayed and price shown.
Price stickers placed on the glass take time to add and later remove but the gallery will decide what is best - it is their call.
Take date recorded photographs of each gallery wall for record purposes and of each individual picture displayed.
Also record the gallery and date on the back of the prints.
Remember suspension hanging systems are always used in galleries.
Displays in schools or church halls have no such facility so make display arrangements well in advance to prevent being caught out.
Gallery lighting should be designed to show the painting at the correct lumen intensity without giving glass reflections into the viewers' eye.
If the eye is at any angle above 45 degrees to any part of the glass there will be no reflection.
Photo non-reflecting light diffusing glass must not be used as it collects light from a wider angle then focuses it and actually increases light exposure.
Thus more light will enter the pigment than with ordinary glass.
Gallery exhibition lighting standards are normally designed to be color correct so that the colors in the paintings are true.
Normal picture grade glass is free from distortion caused by thickness variation.
It is a good idea to find out if your pictures show well in gallery lighting.
The color strength of your paintings may not be as strong as you think.
Carry out a test to see if you need to make tonal adjustments to your paintings otherwise they may appear to be too weal.
When transporting your watercolor paintings prop them vertically on edge in the back seat of your car but on a shock-absorbing surface such as medium firm foam.
Only you should move your pictures - do not rely on others.
Place your pictures face to face and move them in pairs.
This makes them easy to carry and helps to avoid damage to frames.
Use your car safety belts or Velcro straps to secure them against damage from hard braking.
This is the last article in the WC 1-10 series and covers vital matters connected with watercolor painting but not to the actual Technique of painting itself.
The next series will be about laying down washes.
It will be strictly about the Technique of Watercolor Painting.
The first will be under the code number will be WW01.
My very best wishes.


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