My recent foray into exhibiting at an outdoor art festival

My recent foray into exhibiting at an outdoor art festival

Recently, I participated in my first outdoor art festival. I was very excited to be juried into this well attended festival in Ottawa - Art in the Park. I thought if nothing else I would gain valuable experience by participating, and I did, here are my takeaways.


First, the planning and setup was intense as was working the event itself. I knew nothing about outdoor art festivals, so a lot of time went into researching what was needed. A lot is needed as I soon discovered!


Purchasing the tent was relatively easy. We bought a 10 x 10 pop up canopy through a company called Impact.  Once the tent was purchased, I put my mind to how to display my artwork. There are a lot of options out there from grids to professional looking panels to mesh walls all with different price points. I knew I wanted my booth to look clean and professional. I did not want grids and pro panels were not in my budget.


Finding a YouTube video by artist Crystal Beshara where she generously shared her choices for creating an inviting and professional looking booth was a life saver! In her video Crystal Beshara goes through everything that is needed in detail and provides links to all the products she used in her own stunning booth. I was very grateful for this amazing resource.  Crystal Beshara is a talented, award-winning artist and a very accomplished teacher. She has a lovely website where her incredible talent is showcased and a fantastic YouTube channel where she shares her wealth of knowledge and experience. 



With these purchases out of the way the next step was to work on choosing a cohesive body of works to display at the festival. I chose to focus on a few large statement pieces, some mid-sized works and limited-edition prints. Feeling confident in these choices I then began doing mock-ups to see how it would look on the tent walls. I am a very visual person and creating visual mock-ups was incredibly helpful for me. It also made set up easier on the day of the event. 


(View of side wall 1)


(View of side wall 2)


(view of back wall)


Setting up the first day was a tremendous amount of work that involved a lot of planning and help from family and friends.  We brought two vehicles. One vehicle for all tent related items and one vehicle with the art. Set up could not begin before 7 am and unloading had to take place in a specific area and be accomplished quickly to not impede anyone else from unloading. Once we unloaded the first car, we found a side street and parked there while we proceeded to set up the tent in the designated spot before going back to get the second car with the art and proceeded to unload it and hang it up.


People started trickling in at 10 am and so did the rain. The whole weekend was plagued by persistent rain. We ended up having to put a tarp both inside and outside the tent so that the visitors who had braved the rain and mud felt welcomed. The rain was relentless. It left me in awe of artists that do many such shows each year and seem prepared for all and any eventualities. I learned so much!


Amazingly despite the rain the show was very well attended, and I was able to engage with and have pleasant interactions with visitors. I made some lovely connections. I had a great neighbor in Catherine Doull .


So many of my friends dropped by my tent to offer encouragement which meant so much to me.  I also made some sales. An old high school friend dropped by my tent and bought Clearing Skies.

I was thrilled to reconnect with this friend and to know that my painting would now be in her space.


Fleeting, a painting so very dear to my heart was purchased by a newly married couple who seemed so genuinely enthralled with it that I was able to let it go with joy. It is always strange to me how some paintings stay with me long after I have finished painting them.



Overall, the experience was successful thanks to the generosity of my family, my friends giving of their time and other artists such as Crystal Beshara giving of their knowledge and experience.

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