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My First Public Art Showing

Updated: Jun 2

watercolor willow blossoms and bees
willow blossoms and bees watercolor

Full disclaimer my first public art showing was not what I was expecting when I applied for this show. After I had received the acceptance of my proposal and started getting details of the venue and set up I realized this was more of an art fair set up. I was fine with this but I was in no way ready for a set up of this sort. I had no display structures on hand, I couldn't source any locally that weren't going to cost me under $1000 and getting in something reasonable or building something was going to go past the date of the show. Lucky for me my experience with nonprofit had fully prepared me for last minute alterations and making due with what was on hand to pull the show off.

Just a side note and bit of advice: Do not apply for opportunities after spending the day at a Roman renaissance fair, partaking in the tasting of the most amazing red wine, made with honey and rose petals and all sorts of other things, I have ever tasted. You tend not to read the details right and end up with stories like the above. Although it didn't turn out bad so I digress.

So I never really give myself breathing room when I book things, In my head I'm like yeah I can do that. When I got back from my trip sitting down and looking at it and what I had to do to get ready I realized it was way to much to take on, especially on the first go testing the waters of doing public events. Add onto that I had to still work my day job. With only 3 days off in the 28 days I had given myself to get ready and the show happening on my switch over from day to night shift I honestly thought I am crazy.

Initial inventory of what I had proposed was as follows:

  • 4 digital contemporary pieces

  • 10 travel related pieces

  • My "In plain sight" series which had a proposed 20 pieces in total

So I had two of the digitals printed and framed already and one that was printed on canvas so just had to get the fourth ready. I had the 10 travel pieces already. I knew which ones I wanted to take so that was easy.

The "In plain sight" series, at the time of leaving for my trip, was just an idea. I wanted to just share the everyday things we drive by on our go go go routines and never take the time to just sit and appreciate their beauty. I had two miniature pieces painted on 4x5 handmade paper. (OMG this paper was like painting on heaven loved it) Out of those 20 I had listed 10 of these minis and 10 of assorted other sizes.

So i had 8 mini's and 10 paintings to do in 28 days.

In itself painting that much in basically a month really is doable. I have painted a piece a day since taking up watercolors just simply to learn. so physically I know I can do it. Mentally well that's a whole different thing. Normally pressure and deadlines really do help me be productive but when it comes to art it does the opposite.

I had planned on two large acrylic pieces and at the last minute I realized that I could finish them up good enough for the date and people would like them but they weren't finished in my mind I knew I couldn't show them and feel good about it unless they were done to what I needed them to be. So I decided to take them out of the show.

I think this has been a big growth moment for me. In the past my inclination to not let others down would have been to finish and just show. I had no set outlines of what the pieces needed to be beyond the theme so it really was not like anyone was planning on them being there but for whatever reason in my mind when I made my plan for the pieces in the show in my head that was what I needed to bring. I had this moment when I was about to varnish them that I just looked at them and realized that I was doing a disservice to these pieces and by doing that I was doing a disservice to myself. And then I felt fine about my decision. Old me would have fixated on it until I gave myself a headache. (Currently the two pieces are still sitting on the easels with the one getting some attention today as the children are at school)

The first week was spent going through sketches and pictures to pick what ones i wanted to do. I realized I would have to go out and source a few more. So a full day was spent keeping my eyes open for things on my daily tasks caught my eye. This one caught my eye so I pulled over and did a quick sketch of it. Threw some colors down so I could get the right mood of that moment and then snapped a picture for the details I wanted to bring into the big piece.

watercolor city scape
Downtown Drives by Jackie Morisette

One day I grabbed my friend to come walking on the trails with me to get some images. I always get a kick out of when I do things with people and then they see the art that comes out of those things and are like that's what you seen? The first picture in this post is one of those. Two tiny details in the vast landscape willow blossoms and bees I found them just stunning but my friend never noticed it as I did.

Another day I just walked and stopped did some plein air pieces. These mini's I found the hardest of all. In total I did about 25 to get the 10 I took.

watercolor city scape

neon forest scene
Boriel delights

I like the brilliant colors in these and how they give a little folk art vibe to them. The top one is of an area that was 90% burnt down in a wildfire and its crazy to see how much the greenery has come back and the view of the houses you have now. Pre 2016 it was just a wall of trees the only thing you could see was the star that would light up on the tower during the holiday season.

The look on the ladies face, as she came in to take a closer look at these mini's and seen that one, was priceless for me. I think its one of those moments that every artist loves when you evoke an emotion in someone else. Learning why it touched her and where she planned on hanging it and making that human connection is what has really been missing in this journey of figuring out how I want to bring my art to the world.

In the end the process gave me a lot of information on how I need structure my time management, what areas I need to remember to input a time aspect for such as idea refinement and resource sourcing and what I need as an artist to be able to be able to produce in a situation where there is an end expectation. There definitely is a lot of room for improvement but its nice to have sense of direction to go. and be able to improve.

I went in not expecting to sell anything. My goal was to just get out and do it. Overcome my anxieties of being in social situations and see how it felt. So getting the first sale felt good and was a nice surprise. The day of I ended up selling 11 pieces: 3 of the mini's, one digital and 7 of the medium and large. I got quite a few follow ups the following days after also with some inquiries about commissions.

Dollar and cents wise I think it was a good day I was in the black. Going over the numbers for my time input and materials I came in at just above minimum wage. I am happy with that for two reasons It was my first time out doing this I was just happy I didn't loses money on it but it also gave me a good insight into who was interested in my art. My demographics make a lot more sense now. If you seen how they look online they are all over the place and make no sense really. There is no discernable pattern to them but in person it really sorted out which groups like which styles. It also reenforced the design choices I felt strongest about were the ones that tended to get the most attention. So that gave me a bit more confidence to trust my gut more instead of second guessing myself.

My youngest purchaser was 10 and the oldest was 71 and it ended up being an even mix of men and women. My favorite part was the conversation. It was truly amazing to me to see how these younger children communicated their thoughts on my art and what they themselves liked to do. I think because they have not been bent to the societal expectation Art is something I could talk all day about and I was lucky enough to be able to do that. I think I am starting to ramble on now so I will just end this with a another picture. Hope you are having a wonderful day.

Jackie ❤️

watercolor dragonflies and rosehips
Rosehips and Dragonflies by Jackie Morisette

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Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Remember not to under value your art, it might be hard at first, but with confidence you get the hang of it. If you don't put the utmost value in what you create, no one else will either. Also, art fairs are great for networking with other artists. Sometimes their insight can be just as valuable as selling a piece. Btw, you send me that dragonfly piece!!

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Thank you, I think I've got the pricing part right but the time input outside of painting I think I wasted so much time on things that I didn't need to and just trying to figure things out. So I look at it as if I was at a new job getting trained. Next time with this experience I think I will get a raise 😂 and yes other artist are so helpful and helped put me at ease. The dragonflies sold. My dragonflies and bees were the biggest sellers.

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