My first outdoor art fair

Donna - AIP
Donna at Art in the Park Oakville

Well, now I have another experience under my belt – outdoor art fair. It is something I never thought I would do, because I had visions of scrambling to keep my paintings dry as it poured with rain. I’veĀ  exhibited my art in group and solo exhibitions since 1996, but with the exception of a few paintings in a shared tent for a few hours, they have all been indoors.

Peacock abstracts
Peacock abstracts at AIP

However, at some point I realized I’d been concentrating on the painting side of things, and not enough on the “getting the art seen” side of things and the studio was filling up. So I decided to apply to Art in the Park, after all, it was around the corner, and just a one day event, and maybe I wouldn’t even get juried in.

Except I was. Enter the panic … I need a tent, a waterproof one in case of rain. And a display system.

Luckily I know other artists who have been doing outdoor shows, so I reached out to them. Lois Shaw was a really great help, and pointed me in the right direction – I LOVE my mesh walls for hanging the art, even though they cost an arm and a leg.

Bronte
AIP, Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park

This was actually the 50th annual Art in the Park, organized by the Oakville Art Society, and it is held at Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park, by Bronte Harbour.

The location is amazing as you can see, and there was live music, and so much great art. The whole event was well organized, everything went very smoothly, I will certainly be applying again next year.

It rained a lot the day before … I swear the clouds formed a black arrow towards the park! However, by the time we arrived the next morning to set up it had stopped raining, and the ground miraculously was not soggy – but my husband was said it made putting in the tent pegs a lot easier.

Also I think someone’s vehicle stalled, and so we were blocked in in front of our spot, so their bad luck was our good luck because instead of having to drop everything off, park the minivan and then set up the tent trying not to trip over everything on the ground, we were able to do nearly all of our set up before my husband had to go park it.

Donna's booth at AIP
Donna Grandin’s art booth at outdoor art fair, Art in the Park Oakville

There are definite differences between showing in a gallery setting, and showing in an art fair, and it will take some getting used to as I learn the psychology behind it.

The first thing is that in a gallery you want the focus to be on the art, so you leave a lot of space between paintings, and you have easy to read white labels with title, size, year created, artist name, and price. The idea is for people to be able to linger in front of a painting and contemplate it, and then maybe imagine it in their home.

In an art fair, people are walking through way faster than you would expect them to … they have their dogs with them, maybe their kids, and it seems as if they’re in a hurry to “get through” so that they can cram something else into the beautiful day.

I’ve seen them push strollers pass booths without even looking in. Maybe they’re engrossed in conversation with a friend. It can be discouraging.

So a photographer friend, an art fair veteran, suggested I put one of my paintings out front, to attract attention. It was near the end of the day, so I gave it a try, and I think it did work, but I had to stay close because I saw one slobbery dog start to veer towards it and if he had swung his head more to the left as he passed, my painting would have had a shower!

Anyway, I have some new ideas to try out for the next time. Like everything about art and an art career, this is going to be an ongoing process.

I made this 39 sec video to show you my booth and what was around it!

 

AIP collage
Art in the Park Oakville collage

One of the reasons I did this art fair was to get feedback on my new series of peacock feather-inspired abstracts. And I also brought florals because I had mostly florals on my site when I was juried in.

I really did think that one series might be more popular than another, but surprisingly throughout the day I had people commenting on nearly ALL of the paintings! From peacock feather abstracts to fiddleheads, from water lilies to tulips … it seems there was something for everyone.

Anyway, the next step is to find some other outdoor shows to apply to – probably for the spring. Meanwhile, I have a big project to start working on …

 

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4 thoughts on “My first outdoor art fair”

    1. Thank you, Martine! There really is a lot to learn, but so much of it you have to learn by doing. I should have done outdoor shows right out of University, but there was always something … some other art exhibition to prepare for, some commission or trip, then came my kids, and no babysitter. It all just fell into place this time.

  1. Aw – I am so glad it was “our” Art in the Park which was your first!! We are so proud to have had you, your art in absolutely stunning, and you’ll be a pro next year when you apply. You will apply, right????

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