I'm often asked by artists just getting into group art shows about what they should be bringing in the way of artwork, i.e., how many pieces, what sizes, what subjects, etc. I stressed over these same questions when I first began, and in my relatively short time doing shows, I've now arrived at a conclusion that seems to work for me.
First, I try to bring a wide selection of work. Depending on the show and the amount of space I'll have, I typically bring anywhere from 12 to 20 paintings. Sounds like a lot doesn't it? Well, it's not as bad as you might think.
The paintings I bring are basically divided up into three groups — small (11x14" or smaller), medium (12x16" - 18x24"), and large (anything above 18x24"). These groups are based on my pricing structure. Smaller paintings are more expensive per square inch, medium paintings get a little less expensive and larger ones drop even more. This selection of small, medium and large works are typically divided as follows; 1 half of the paintings are small, the rest are medium and I'll bring one, or maybe two, large paintings depending on my available space. Large paintings are great to bring folks into your space, but in my experience, they can be difficult to sell in these kinds of show environments.
What subjects should you bring? You’ll hear a number of varying opinions about this from other artists. My opinion is simple — bring the subjects you enjoy painting. Period. Do not try to cater to what you think a particular show's demographic is interested in purchasing. You'll almost always be wrong and as an artist, you're missing the very point of being a fine artist — you paint what you want because that's what you love to paint.
And finally, I'd like to say something about making your work available to everyone. I bring a number of very small paintings to these shows (6x8") because 1st, I enjoy painting them. They're simple, expressive and they give me an opportunity to focus on my brushwork and color usage without struggling with the complexities a larger painting might bring. And 2nd, they are very inexpensive (when it comes to fine art) which allows serious art buyers who may not have much discretionary income to spend, an opportunity to obtain one of my paintings if they so choose.
Here's an example of a recent 6x8" painting of mine titled, "Iorek".