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Hanging Art Shows: Tips and Plans


My purpose today is to share some tips and ideas about hanging art shows outside the home or studio.  Planning and preparation are key to an efficient and smooth operation.

Recently, I was talking to one of  my sisters about hanging art shows.  My sister has hung art shows in her home, but not in a gallery type venue.  She is getting ready to hang a show of my Father’s artwork in Albuquerque this November.   As I started sharing tips, it occurred to me that this might be something to share with others.

Margaret Stermer-Cox with Paintings

Successful Hanging Day

Hanging Art At Home – v – Not Home

There is a big difference between hanging an art show in your home or studio and hanging in a gallery or non-traditional venue.  Here are some major considerations:

  • Time.  You may have limited access to the gallery space.  The show must be hung within a defined timeframe.
  • Materials.  You may have to bring all the hanging materials with you; do not assume the venue will provide them.
  • Assistance.  The venue may or may not have someone available to assist you.  You may need to bring your own help.

Put another way, when you’re hanging in your studio or home, you control the situation and deadlines.  You can be as efficient as you want to be.  However, in a gallery or non-traditional venue (cafe, coffee house, winery) you will have constraints based on the venue’s daily operations.

Tape measure - essential tool

Tape measure – essential tool


My husband and I have had the pleasure of hanging several shows.  Some of them we have had to travel several hours to; some were in a different state.  In order to accomplish our task of hanging the artwork within the allotted time, we had to get efficient and establish procedures.  We pre-plan the operation and have assigned duties.  My husband hangs; I assist and am the gopher.


  • Think through the hardware that you will need; create a “hanging day” toolbox.  I have such a toolbox and a list of essential ingredients.
  • If possible, get the wall dimensions.  Once you have the wall dimension, you can develop a hanging plan*
  • Create checklists for tools, equipment and documentation.  Please see checklists at the bottom of the page
  • Take extra paintings just in case and changes in situations
  • Preplan and, have a “plan b” with a little redundancy.

Art Plan

* Here a step-by-step outline of how to develop your hanging art plan.

  • Get the dimensions (height & width) of each wall or space available to you.
  • Get the dimensions of the framed artwork you wish to display.
  • Consider the margins, or how much space you want around you
  • Then its a matter of arranging and adding up measurements.

For example:  Wall space equal 70 inches wide.  I have five paintings I am considering.   There widths are 14.5, 22.5,  23, 20 and 14 inches respectively.  If I wanted to hang 22.5+23+20 paintings, I’d have 65.5 inches committed to paintings.  That only leaves me 4.5 inches between the three paintings (two spaces equaling 2.25 inches).  Maybe that’s OK; maybe that’s too crowded.  That will may be an issue decided on hanging day.  Its a matter of style.

I like to come up with two or three options.  I present them to my husband.  The final decision on layout is usually made on hanging day.


In summary, taking the time to plan and prepare before art hanging day may help you have a smooth, efficient operation.

And, what to do when you’re done?  I might go have a nice cup of espresso with a fudge brownie to celebrate a smooth art hanging operation.   How about you?  And, for those of you who have done art hanging operations, suggestions?  Your lessons learned?

Sample Checklists

Equipment Checklist

Equipment Checklist

Sample Document Checklist

Sample Document Checklist


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Downtowne Coffee House, Drawing Talent Series

Time To Draw

Yes!  Today was a lovely fall day!  Sky blue, temperatures mild, calm winds.  That means time to go outside and do another “Drawing Talent” piece!

Armed with stool, paint tool box, paper, water, sunscreen, hat…etc, OFF I GO!  It was late morning on a Sunday.  Certainly there will be no one around and I can draw and paint in peace.*  Well, no.  There we a lot of people at the Downtowne Coffee House!

Downtowne Coffee House, Talent OR

Busy At Downtowne Coffee House

Cars, dogs, people everywhere!  The Downtowne Coffee House has outside tables and they were full of patrons.  Judging by the coming and going of cars, I’d say the inside seating was doing pretty good too!  I was pleased to see such a hopping, thriving business on a Sunday morning.

It did make it challenging to draw and paint.  I worked quickly to get the big shapes of the cars before they moved; which they did.  And, others took their place.

I have had coffee here several times.  I particularly like their espresso.  As a matter of fact, I sat at one of their outdoor tables to do one of my previous “Drawing Talent” pieces, “Drawing Talent:  Joe Dunbar Designs & Talent Cafe”.

It was a fun morning.  When I walked home, there were several young people at the skate park.  For what I call a sleepy town, Talent certainly was active today!


* I enjoy interruptions by interested passersby.  That is one of the points of my “Drawing Talent” project.  I get to know Talent; Talent people get to know me.  Win; win!



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Going to California – Just Sayin’…

Show Time

YES!  For the first time, one of my paintings is going to California!

My painting “Just Sayin’ V8b” has been accepted into the California Watercolor Association‘s 45th National Exhibition in Pleasanton, CA.

Stermer-CoxMargaret-Just Sayin'… V8b


California Exhibition Details

Exhibition dates are January 15 through February 21st.  The location is the Harrington Gallery at the Firehouse Arts Center.

The Juror of Selection is Mr. Eric Wiegardt.  The Juror of Award is Mr. Gary Bukovnik.

I am thrilled and am thankful!  Two of my art friends are also in the exhibition: Myrna Wacknov and Ruth Armitage. Congratulations Myrna and Ruth!

You may see the complete list of accepted artist’s at the CWA website on the exhibition page.

Just Sayin’…  The Story

This watercolor painting is part of my “Just Sayin’…” series, inspired by our culture, and cell phones in particular.  One of my sisters served as the model.  We were home visiting my Mom.  I went in to the kitchen and found my sister on her cell phone.  Her phone was to one ear and finger to the other.  I thought the gesture was funny and typical of our times.  I’ve been having fun working with it ever since.





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Drawing Talent: The Gas Station

Bus Stop or Gas Station?

Right before Watercolor Society of Oregon convention weekend (see previous post “Painting Size Matters – WSO Conventions Lessons Learned”), I took some time to do another “Drawing Talent” piece.  It was late afternoon.  You could say rush hour, but we don’t have a rush hour in Talent, OR.

I had intended to paint the bus stop that is in front of the gas station (to the left of my drawing), but it was in complete shadow.  Instead, I sat down and examined a view of gas pumps and square pillars.

Talent 76 Gas Station

Drawing Busy Places

Its fun and interesting drawing a place with activity.  Cars came and when.   Employees went about there business.  Oregon is one of the few states remaining that requires gas station attendants to pump gas into customers cars.  The employees were busy.  I didn’t know so many people came by for gas.

With so much activity, I worked fast and looked for big shapes.

Conversation with Brett

An employee named “Brett” noticed me sitting across the street with watercolor sketchbook in hand.  He came over and we had a short chat.

After my session, I went in to talk to Brett and show him what I was up to.   I was treated to some local news.  The owners have purchased the adjacent lot with intentions on expanding.  So, what do you know, I’ve drawn a piece of Talent history.

By the way, it is a “76” station.




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Painting Size Matters – WSO Convention Lessons Learned

WSO Convention in Medford, OR

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the Watercolor Society of Oregon’s (WSO) convention in Medford OR.  It was an action packed weekend that left me dizzy with ideas and lessons learned.  I met many new people,  new faces, new names.  It was wonderful.

Linda Baker (AWS/NWS), Juror

Ms. Linda Baker was our Juror and guest speaker.  On Saturday she guided us through a critique of nearly 40 paintings.  On Sunday, she honored us with a lecture and demonstration of her approach to painting.  Linda was funny, articulate and insightful.  It was a memorable and educational experience.

Art Exhibition Opening

The Convention coincided with the Opening of the WSO Fall Transparent Exhibition.  Openings are exciting and enlightening.  They are the culmination of a lot of work too!  Over 300 paintings were submitted and 80 were accepted.  One of them, happily, was my piece “I Can’t Hear You” (please see below).

I found it educational to look the paintings and the installation in the gallery.  Naturally, I am thinking about how my work feels in a gallery setting along with approximately 80 paintings.  Does it speak to the audience?  Does it show well?  What can I learn?

Big or Little:  Size Matters

One thing that was obvious is that size does matter.  My painting was among the smaller paintings.  While not all award winning paintings were large, I could see and feel that size matters.  I’m thinking that the larger (22×30 inches) paintings feel more open, inviting, expansive or embracing to the viewer.  The statement is public, it has impact just by size.  The painting says “I’m here, look at me”.

The smaller paintings, perhaps 15×11 inches or less in size, make a more intimate, closed or private statement.  Oddly enough, size can seem to put distance between the statement and the viewer.  I found that artists can counter the closed feeling by using simple, bold shapes.

What Are You Trying To Say?

I’m sure I’ve read that question before.  It’s a question one has to learn to ask themselves.  The size of the painting, and art in general, is linked to the statement we make.  Simply stated: we notice size and it matters.

Bottomline:  I need to paint bigger!  Simple enough “take away”, don’t you think?  The next step is do it, followed by making it work.

PS.  My painting earned an “Award of Distinction”.  Having a nice ribbon by the painting communicates something, don’t you think?

I Can't Hear You


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“To Market, To Market” Art’Clectic Local Artisans Victorian Christmas Market

Christmas is perhaps the most widely embraced, lovingly anticipated and celebrated annual event for many families in Oregon. In the grand tradition of holiday merriment, the Art’Clectic Local Artisans Group has created a “Pop-Up” event with 12 local artisans, offering an “Authentically Oregon” mix of fine artisan made items including Fine Art, Hand woven Textiles, Quilts, Furniture, and more. There will be a special table with low cost items where children can shop for presents for Mom & Dad (and stay within a small budget). The group will also offer stylish gift wrapping to personalize presents with simple, beautiful papers and ribbon.

The Art’Clectic Artisans Market will be held during the Victorian Christmas Weekends:

Where:  175 S. Oregon Street (IOOF #10)
When:  December 5-7th, December 12-14th, December 19-21st.
Time:  Fridays from 4-8pm, Saturday & Sundays from 10-6pm.

The Art’Clectic Artisans Group started as a social gathering, meeting once a month at the home of one of the artists.  The ongoing meetings are an opportunity to freely discuss changes in the artist community and art market place, upcoming art events, and personal news about family and friends. Artisans include:

  • Patrick Beste – Watercolorist
  • Roberta Coakley-Vargas– Mixed Media Artist
  • Sheri Croy – Mixed Media Decoupage Artist
  • Susan Frank – Pastel Artist
  • Carol Laenen – Textile Artist
  • Tony Laenen – Watercolor/Acrylic Artist
  • Vivian McAleavey – Photographer
  • Tom Ommen – Photographer
  • Lisa St. Arnold – Local Furniture Artisan
  • Zoe West – Encaustic Artist
  • Char Wirfs – Textile Artist
  • Walt Wirfs – Oil Painter & Graphite Artist

For more information:
Susan Frank
(541) 245-2608
For more information on Art’Clectic Local Artisans Market:

New Sketches and Five Sketch Blogs

From My Sketchbook

I’ve been thinking, and re-thinking, as is my custom, about why I spend so much time on my sketchbook.  I like it.  I have two new pieces, one for my “Drawing Talent” series and one from our recent camping trip around the Northwest.

I’ve also been wrestling with what to say.  I drew the one of the local dentist offices that’s in an interest house in our historic area.  But, I don’t know anything about the building.  All I can say is that its a dentist office that I pass on a daily basis.  It’s Talent.

Dental Office

Another watercolor sketch I did was of our camper on our recent outing (please see the below).  We were camped in northeastern California.  I was sitting on a slope, looking down at the campground.  I particularly wanted to include our camper in a campground setting.   I enjoyed the work.

By the way, while cruising the internet looking for my favorite drawing blogs, I came by Rhonda Carpenter’s “Watercolors and Words”.  She had a blog post about taking sketching and watercolor material with her on trips…and never using them.  It is something I can relate to; its hard when visiting family and friends.  I was happy that I did a watercolor sketch this last trip.  Usually, I do simple drawings.

Adebanji Alade Sketch Blog

Then, I stumbled onto one of the fascinating blogs that I like:  Adebanji Alade.  Mr. Alade is an artist in the UK.  He just one the “Harold Riley Sketchbook Prize”.  This is an award unique to the UK.  Mr. Riley wanted to highlight the value of the artist’s sketchbook, which is rarely seen publicly.  Sketchbooks give insight to the artist’s work and creativity.  Congratulations Mr. Alade!

To my friends, I invite you to take a look at Mr. Alade’s sketch blog (he does have a separate one for paintings).  Just cruise the images and look at the sketches.  Aren’t they exciting?

Then, I had a flash of insight.  Why don’t I share some favorite sketching blogs?

Four Additional Blogs

  • Gurney’s Journey sometimes includes sketches.  He’s been doing this for quite some time.
  • Urban Sketchers, by definition: its about sketching and sketch blogs.  This particular blog gave me the idea of doing some urban sketching of my own.  Instead, I am doing Talent sketching, or Drawing Talent.  I don’t know if my little town qualifies as urban.  Back to this blog, the quality of work is amazing!  And, what a great way to get to know a city!  Their motto is “See the world one drawing at a time”.  Isn’t that a cool idea?
  • Seattle Sketcher Gabriel Campanario.  Mr. Campanario sketches for the Seattle Times and is the founders of the Urban Sketcher movement. Inspiring.
  • Then there is the Sketch Seattle website and blog.  The sketchers are fellow northwest artists Ron Stocke and Derek Gundy.  They offer workshops too.  I know of the artists through our mutual affiliation with the Northwest Watercolor Society.

I don’t visit these blogs and websites often, but when I do stop by, I am impressed by the quality of work.  And, I’m inspired to get busy on my own drawing!

I hope you’ll take a moment to wander through these five sites and see perhaps see a bit of the world through the eye of an artist!

Camping Among the Ponderosa Pine






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On Writing a Solo Art Show Statement

Art Show Coming Up

In my head I’m having a discussion with my sister Dorothy about art show statements.  Dorothy is in the process of putting together a solo show of my Dad’s work, artist John H. Stermer (1920-1991).  The show will be at the University of New Mexico’s Popejoy Hall (Albuquerque, NM) this November.

The Problem

How does one go about writing a statement for an art show?  What might an art show statement look like?

kittykitty by margaret stermercoxResearch

Thinking off the top of my head, I thought I’d do some online research.  This is not a new requirement, there ought to be lots of articles are art show statements, shouldn’t there?

What I found was that  there are plenty of articles about writing an artist’s statement, but I couldn’t find one specifically about a show or collection statement.  I know they’re out there, but?

I Need Your Help

Since I didn’t find a satisfactory article, I would love to read your suggestions and experiences.  To get the ball rolling, so to speak, I thought I’d write this article.

Brain Storming

Here’s a brain storm type list of what I think a solo art show or collection (we will go with art show) statement might look like.

  • Short.  To the point.  Smallish sentences for easy reading.  Three to five short paragraphs long.
  • Its a story about the collection used in the art show.
  • It introduces the audience, which are potential collectors, to the collection and gives them a clue about what to see, discover or feel.
  • It’s not a bio.  It’s not the artist’s childhood.
  • Written in the first person.
  • Used in publicity and marketing.
  • Specific to the collection of art being shown

Still Life with Toy Pony D25

Sample Statement

I have written a couple from time to time and found one in my archives.  It was for my “MsKitty & ToyPony” collections.  I thought I’d include it as a sample art show statement..ummm, after some editing!

“MsKitty & Toy Pony”

Welcome to the “MsKitty and ToyPony” show!  Its about humor, family and friendship.  Its also about color, boldness and discovery.  Shown here are the highlights of two series of watercolor works:  “MsKitty” and “Still Life with Toy Pony”.

The “MsKitty” series was inspired by my aunt’s cat “Maggie”, also known as “Maggie-magnificat”. I gave her the names “MsKitty” and “KittyKitty”, because she is a proper, modern cat. I like the stoic, subdued expressions of kitties. I also like their ability to go from nap to full tilt boogie in four seconds flat. In the MsKitty series, I am exploring the expression of the individual. Others are implied, as in “KittyKitty”; the text refers to someone off-paper. “Regal Kitty” is a nod to the Cubist sculpture of Henri Laurens. In “Groovy Kitty”, I again include Cubist devices, such a face that can be read as head-on or in profile.

I started the “Still Life with Toy Pony” series after working on “MsKitty” for a year or more. Where “MsKitty” is about the individual, “Toy Pony” is the family.   The objects are arranged to tell stories about family relationships. Sometimes the four objects are all linked as a unit. At other times, I grouped the objects either as pairs, or in an un-even 3-1 arrangement. Each arrangement influences the mood and expression. Another device I used was the animate object, “Toy Pony” contrasted with three in-animate objects, the candlestick, espresso cup and vase. I believe that “Toy Pony’s” character is easier to reveal because of a natural empathy with animals. “Toy Pony” became the star; the candlestick, espresso cup and vase the supporting cast. On a personal note, I seem myself as the espresso cup.

Even though both series were started independently, they took on a greater personal meaning together. They reminded me of my sisters and me. While each painting is designed to stand on its own, together they reflect my feelings about my family. And, if they bring joy or delight to the viewer, so much the better!


I would love to hear your recommendations and suggestions about what an art show statement should be about.


Paintings From the MsKitty and Toy Pony Collections



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Classical Drawing and Painting with Sarah F Burns

Fantin Latour Roses Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns

Fantin Latour Roses
Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns

After a six week sabbatical Sarah Burns is back and ready to whip your drawing and painting skills into shape!

Learn timeless principles of drawing and painting that apply to any style of artwork.

  • Proportion
  • Placement
  • Perspective
  • Values/Tones
  • Understanding Light, Shadow
  • Color
  • Use of materials

The class is designed to serve the goals of each individual, while enjoying the group dynamic.  Drop in structure allows a student to get a brush up in a specific area or spend many months working on successively deeper goals.

  • Every Wednesday
  • 3:00 – 5:00 pm
  • Held at Ashland Art Center, 357 E Main St. Ashland, OR 97520
  • $20 per session
  • Questions?  Email Sarah at sarahfburns {at} gmail. com


All students begin with drawing – at least for the first couple of sessions. Materials are available for purchase at the Art Center

  • HB, B, 2B and H graphite pencils
  • Kneaded Eraser
  • Drawing Paper – do NOT buy sketch paper


30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

I joined the “30 Paintings in 30 Days” challenge sponsored by Leslie Saeta even though I had projects coming up that might prevent me from finishing the challenge.  Why take on the challenge?  I thought it was worth the start and good practice.  Even if I don’t post, its worth the discipline to paint daily.

What I would like to talk about are the projects I will be doing instead.  Camping and painting, naturally.  Plus, I’m volunteering my time to the Watercolor Society of Oregon (WSO) and the Northwest Watercolor Society (NWWS).

Dreamy Time Tea

Watercolor Society of Oregon

The Watercolor Society of Oregon has their fall convention early in October.  This year it is being held in nearby Medford, OR.  I am one of the volunteer workers.  I’m assisting the convention chair (Ms. Deanna St. Martin) with some of the sessions.   Currently, I’m preparing for the Juror’s Critique Sessions.  There are two sessions each with 20 images.  What is enlightening is seeing the good quality of art being submitted.

Which brings me to a lesson learned that is re-inforced in my brain.  In most any juried show, there are many fine paintings that are not accepted.  It is the nature of the beast due to the limits of juried shows.

Another lesson learned:  there is a LOT of work that must be done ahead of time to prepare for and put on an exhibition and convention.

My volunteer work with the Watercolor Society of Oregon is short term and will be done by conventions end early in October.

Northwest Watercolor Society

My work with the Northwest Watercolor Society is more long term.  I am one of the “Co-Chair” for the society’s Facebook Page.  These days, non-profit organizations, such as the NWWS, must learn and be active in Social Media.  By necessity, the society depends on volunteers.

I started volunteering with the NWWS in 2011.  I was their “Awards Chair”.  It was an interesting job.  My responsibility was securing award donations for their two annual exhibitions.  It was almost like a full time job.  It was also a job I wanted to do well as people were depending on me.

During my tenure as Awards Chair, I started posting on the society’s Facebook page.  I’ve been doing it off and on ever since.

Why Volunteer?

I have gained knowledge about art societies and participating in art exhibitions and conventions.  This is knowledge one does not gain merely by submitting an image.  Things like image preparation, paperwork, shipping and receiving artwork.

The art societies rely on volunteers to function.  Volunteering from time to time contributes to the success of organizations I am a member of, even if it is in a small way.

So, if I don’t post much until mid October, know that I’m busy working on the Watercolor Society of Oregon’s fall convention.  I probably won’t have time for new “Drawing Talent” work either.

Plus, if you have insight on growing a great non-profit organization Facebook page, PLEASE let me know!

Tea & Espresso

Now, I think it’s tea and coffee time!  About the two paintings shown, they are the latest two I completed for the “30 Paintings in 30 Days” .  Thanks!

Espresso & Tea Again


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