If you Make Art, Share It

One of the topics I hear from artists over and over again is related to the fear of showing their own art. (Read this post on alternatives to exhibiting your art during a pandemic.)

Lots of artists visit festivals and exhibits to get inspired, stay up to date on the art scene and meet other artists. I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I can *usually* sense an artist is in my booth when they’re nose-to-glass, furrowed brow, studying watercolor or ink application, etc.  

So, I ask: “Are you an artist?” People almost always say “No, not really.” So, I reply “Not really can mean sometimes, so when you sometimes make art, what do you create?” That breaks the ice and I discover all sorts of artists that make pottery, watercolors, acrylics, mixed media and oil paintings… but not one of them answers “yes” to the question “Are you an artist?”

Watercolors ready to be framed, postcards to be stamped & mailed, and new frames: Art Show preparations

Are You an Artist?

Whats up with that? PEOPLE, I’m here to tell you this fact: If you make art, you’re an artist! It’s truly that simple.

Do you draw? Paint? Sculpt? Do you sketch with pen and ink? On a tablet using software? In a spiral bound, lined paper, coffee stained notebook? Yes? Okay then, you’re an artist! If someone asks you, Just Say Yes. For Pete’s Sake.

Art-making is not a hierarchy where you’re not allowed to don the moniker “artist” unless you sell work in galleries, or have an art degree.

This isn’t Karate with a sequence of accomplishments awarded in belt colors. It’s just art. If another person asks you if you’re an artist, make your grandmother proud, tell the truth, and say yes. Capisci? Good.

When Should an Artist Show Their Work?

The second part of the Art Festival conversation that’s frequent among my visiting Not-Really-Artists is about showing art.

People often have a pile of art, but they’ve never shown it to anyone – not in a local exhibit, never entered in a competition, never shared online. When I ask if they’d like to share it in any of those venues, most of the time, the answer is “Yes, but how?”  

So, I’m asking: are you in that camp? Are you interested in showing your work (anywhere at all). Are you unsure about where to start? I think every artist already showing has been there, and a whole chorus of us would sing (in four part harmony) You Can Do This! If I can do it, so can you!

Art supply shelf & printmaking waiting for frames in the studio

Baby Steps to Showing Your Art

I’m thinking about doing a short video course on best studio practices for artists that would like to dip a toe into showing their work. Do you think it would be helpful?

Are there particular aspects of showing your art you’d like pointers on? Sharing it on social Media? Organizing your studio inventory? Starting a blog? Matting and framing tips? Submitting to local shows?

I’d be grateful if you’d leave me a comment with some feedback and ideas. I’m convinced that many of you have lovely art hidden away in a cupboard, just dying to see the light of day. Your work is probably craving the gaze of appreciative faces smiling at those pigments. 🙂

Here’s a great article about showing your work:


Thanks for stopping by today. Don’t be shy – leave a comment and share your thoughts on this idea for a video course on best studio practices for showing your art work.

Be sure you’re subscribed to my newsletter for an upcoming subscriber-only private online art sale coming up soon. You can sign up here.

Happy painting!


Spearmint Float 12 x 11 watercolor (available here)  (Sold)

Art Quote

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.

Cherie Dawn Haas

23 thoughts on “Tips to Start Showing Your Art”

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  4. Donna Thibodeau

    I suggest art clubs for opportunities to exhibit, networking, speakers, and critiques. Now I belong to two clubs and get opportunities to exhibit at big galleries in group shows and hear of places to exhibit solo such as businesses. The camaraderie is wonderful. I found out about a plein air group and paint with them and we exhibit at a local Nature Center. I also started a Critique Club which meets 6 times a year and we have become fast friends and have exhibited together. My identity is totally that of an artist. You probably have a club in your community that would welcome any level of artist.

  5. Hi Belinda, I’m sure all will be helpful to those starting out, those part-way there and even to those already on the journey will find something helpful. Your comments, demonstrations and videos are always useful to me. I have been a “leisure” artist for many years, have exhibited with a couple of national art societies, as well as locally, had a website for a number of years, but this year abandoned that in favour of a blog, and continue to learn and enjoy expressing myself in my art.

    1. Hi Sonia, it sounds like you’ve meandered through many phases of sharing your work, so good for you! I’ll keep everyone posted on this new video series, and if you see anything noteworthy, feel free to chime in and share tips!

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  7. Mary Ellen Gale

    First, love the title “Spearmint Float”. (Much better than Bath #27). I’d like guidelines on Organizing your inventory, how to submit work, and then all the rest. Thanks for being out here and encouraging people to embrace their art.

  8. I would really enjoy a video about your proposed subject matter. Mea Culpa – may I confess that I’m “one of those” who becomes uncomfortable saying “yes” to the question “Are you an Artist”. Upon self-reflection, right now, I prefer answering: I’m an apprentice. And the more I study and see the amazing works out there, the more I realize that I honestly can’t elect myself to that status – it has more to do with not wanting attention or expectations. Furthermore, I’m ashamed of having laid claim to that too early in my apprenticeship (and that goes back to over 40 years), and it wasn’t until I retired and began serious self-directed studies that I was blown away by the enormity of what I didn’t know. Also, I’ve had a hard life-time battle with ego (always striving to be the best, etc) so that now, that pendulum has swung over to the other extreme (but I also know that it’s still part of the ego continuum….just not as obvious). It would be interesting to hear other comments on this. Having shared this personal point of view, I have no problem with folks calling themselves artists and applaud them for their confidence in doing so.

    1. Hi Gaelle, I can relate to everything you’ve said here, and as food for thought – this is what I’ve learned from social media: every single artist out there – even the amazingly gifted and curated and collected professionals – all feel at times that they’re still struggling, still trying to get it right, still having sucky days in the studio. By elevated the title of Artist to a place just under Super Hero in the list of great things, all we do is intimidate the beans out of ourselves. You are indeed an artist, And so am I. And so is everyone else trying to figure out drawing and painting and sculpting. Whether you’ve mastered it or not. Artists create, so that’s what we are.

  9. Jill Cohenour

    Yes, yes, and yes to all of the above! I’d love to pick your brain on all of the amazing accomplishments you have! Starting out is very intimidating, along with the many avenues of self promotion. Fear is a powerful enemy of creative people and having advice on how to get out there is invaluable! Another part is stricking that inspired nerve when it comes…between secular jobs and responsibilities. The day I can do nothing but produce peices will be the day I have “Arrived!”
    Thanks for being a great influence!!
    Jill Cohenour

  10. Belinda, first of all, I want you to know how much I enjoy and appreciate your blog posts and your YouTube videos. Both have been so helpful to me! I would love tips on showing my art work. I am still trying to develop confidence and am still a beginner and learning, but I think about how to show my art…so maybe I’ll get there. Matting and framing, along with how to submit to local shows, would both be helpful topics. I look forward to the videos!

  11. Yes, I’m an artist!
    Yes, I show my work & have an online shop.
    When I taught elementary art, I always told my students that they were artists. Same thing, “if you make art then you’re an artist.” We started doing shows this year. At every show, I’ve had a shy artist who wants to examine the work and talk. One elderly man went on & on about when he used to paint. He smiled when I told him to pick up those brushes again!
    Thanks, Brenda, for your thought provoking posts & generosity of the artistic spirit.

  12. One subject I’d like to hear about is making art that fits into standard frames with mats. Matting and framing is very intimidating to me, so I’d like to buy standard frames and mats at Aaron Bros., but I don’t know what sizes to make the art itself. Is there a chart or a secret?

    1. Hi there JMC, Thank you so much for your great question. The only secret is that pre-cut matboard openings differ depending on manufacturer, so that’s a bit of a guessing game. But if you know you’re only going to get the mats from Aaron Bros & Michaels (same company) you can check the sizes of the openings online and make yourself a little chart. (Share it on pinterest if you do, because I bet lots of other folks have the same question.) 🙂

        1. It’s exciting some artists are choosing not to mat and frame, even watercolourists, and printmakers like Ouida Touchon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvKy9Bluvvk). I’d love some tips for mounting prints on a panel and then sealing them. With small prints, could you get away with mounting them and not bothering with a varnish (to avoid the exposure to sprays and chemicals)?

          Again, love your blog — and I’d be more than happy to pay for a video course on printmaking tips and using a press.

          1. Hi Louise, Thanks so much for the idea on a tutorial – I can demonstrate a whole list of options on this topic! I’ve experimented far and wide, with utter failures and total successes. In the meantime, you can avoid varnish and spray, and simply brush acrylic varnish on your prints!

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