Beginning the Adventure

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  • I am a retired grade school art teacher. I retired six years ago, and didn’t start painting until three years ago when my family responsibilities lightened up. I have had my work exhibited locally, and started an Etsy shop six months ago. I post my work on Facebook, and get a few sales here and there.

    What are some suggestions for getting your work accepted by galleries? I current belong to The Artists Compound in Baltimore, and have had two exhibits with them, and a third in Gaithersburg this fall. I’ve exhibited through  juried exhibits at County arts leagues in Anne Arundel County Ocean City, MD. I am a member of Baltimore Watercolor Society, and plan plan to try for a Signature membership again in the fall.

    i take watercolor classes, read watercolor books, watch videos and paint, paint, paint.

    Is there hope for this old lady? Suggestions for increased sales?

    I can definitely say that there’s a ton of hope!! I’ve personally never been accepted to galleries, so I can’t really speak to that, but know that if you keep posting and promoting your work, then your audience will definitely find you! 😃 And if you’d like some help with promotion, please just let me know and you can be a featured guest artist on Doodlewash! Just send me a note via my contact form if you’re interested:

    Always hope… I’ve never had any luck with Galleries.  Love to hear from those that have.  I guess I am just tooo good for them (winks)

    Thanks for your responses! Sorry, we had a big wedding this weekend! My eldest son got married. It was a weekend of celebration. After this blog I got an invite to do an exhibit/sale at Launchpad in Gaithersburg, MD, and a sip and paint.  I paint so much now it is nice to  able to sell some of the things I paint. I do have an Etsy shop, but don’t sell a lot there. I found this Baltimore, MD group, Artist Compound, through a young lady who works at the print shop I use for my Giclée prints. They have given me some nice exposure. It would be nice to find a gallery that would regularly take my paintings.

    I will post a few recent paintings on the group page.

    I had a gallery show in June.  It was for a really small gallery, and they approached me after seeing some stuff I put into a local-ish show for the local art association.  From what I could glean from the experience, bigger galleries are kind of networked (read: good ol’ boys networks), but for smaller ones, it’s more about getting your stuff in front of them.  Talk to the curators; find out what they’re looking for and how they find new artists.

    All galleries have their own kind of vibe, I noticed, too.  It’s kind of like writing professionally — if you pitch a fantastic article about squirrels to a magazine that only prints articles about football, you’re not going to have much luck, no matter how fantastic it is.  Find the ones that your work seems to mesh with, then talk to those first.

    Also, I don’t know how the local “scene” is in your neck of the woods, but out here, there seems to be an inordinate number of collectives.  And by collective, I mean a gallery where you have to pay to be hung — usually a membership fee, if they accept you, and then commission if anything sells through that venue.  (Plus, work hours.  You often have to go be a docent for at least a certain number of hours per month, or pay another fee.)  I opted NOT to go for these, personally, because the volume I’d have to sell there would be vaguely ridiculous, just to break even.  (And I’m an introvert.  Docent hours would turn me into a quivering mass of OH-BUT-NO.)

    Ultimately, though, I think sales in general sort of depend (and vary commensurately) on the hours you’re willing to put into promoting your own work, unless you hire someone to do that stuff for you.  (An agent, a marketing person, etc.)

    You could also look at non-traditional gallery spaces to get exposure.  Two of our major hospitals here in Adelaide, have gallery space for local artists.  A while back, I was able to exhibit some of my ink drawings and was quite successful with sales.

    Thanks Elizabeth and Margot! I have been trying to get into local juried shows, with some success. I put some prints in the museum shop of an art league at the beach, but there are so many prints on the racks I doubt i’ll Sell anything.

    I belong to a “collective” in Baltimore City that is fairly new. I paid to join at a great discount when they first started, and have done a few shows with them. They don’t require volunteer hours for now, and I don’t have to hang my own work. Phew! They get 20% of my sales at shows, but they advertise and give me an advertisement for a month on their website for my membership. They are programmed more for younger entry level artists, but I like working with them.

    Also lucked out recently, and got a 2 month gig at one of the local libraries. I can sell my displayed art, too! That’s plenty of work for this retired artist!  I don’t want it to start feeling like a job, and I want to keep enjoying it while it pays for my supplies and workshops! 😁

    The great thing about being online is the world is your gallery!

    One thought is that – as much as people are purchasing your painting, they’re buying a little of you. It’s important that you connect with people on a personal level, whether online or at shows.

    I’m not an expert with art sales but have been involved in marketing various businesses and the same principles apply.

    Another thought is to add value to your artwork by writing a little about the story, the inspiration, and circumstances around it. Include that with the artwork and also when you’re talking to people about it. They’re buying the story!

    Hope that helps!


    Totally agree about the importance of story!

    Start following Gwenn Seemel.  Knowing this extraordinary woman, I’ve watched her grow and become worldly — and she shares it ALL.  Her vlogs are a delight to watch, and her blogs on selling and copyright are amazing.  Some good links:

    Also, make cards through MOO.  52 different images in an order, and that means that people can find an image that they want to remember and I use the nice big squares — very effective.

    Thank you for the great advice! I agree! People like getting to know you and the story behind your art work.

    I totally agree about I’ve been using them for business cards ever since I started seriously painting 5 or so years ago. I’m just saving up to  do another round of newest paintings on the back of my business cards before Christmas. Here’s what my sets last time looked like. I love that you get any painting on one side then your particulars on the other!Moo Business cards

    Oh, and also do postcards, stickers etc.!! You can get a sample set for free, I think or here’s a link to get 20% off your first order,


    Your business cards look wonderful.

    Nice cards. I have used Vista Print here in the U.S.

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