Toward the end of February, I took the plunge and submitted a proposal for a solo show at the Dawson Creek Art Gallery. I’m excited to start painting for my first solo show in 14 years, “A Walk in the Peace” which will hang in early 2017.
I’m excited, and a little nervous. It’s one thing to paint demos and sketches to build my painting skills and work out ideas for “serious” paintings. It’s a lot more pressure to build a body of work that showcases the fullest expression of my art and skill.
"Everlasting" watercolour on paper by Angela Fehr“Everlasting” watercolour on paper by Angela Fehr
So what’s the difference between a “sketch” and a “serious” painting? What is the difference between a painting I would sell for less than $100 on my Etsy “Watercolour Sketchbook” site and one listed for hundreds or more on my gallery web page?
"Flight of Fancy" watercolour by Angela Fehr“Flight of Fancy” watercolour by Angela Fehr
Here are a few things I look for in a gallery painting:
  1. Intention: Gallery-quality art is a goal. I spend time planning by sketching, studying and even daydreaming. I prepare my paper more carefully, and I seldom start a gallery piece without first doing several “trial runs” of the same subject on smaller sheets of paper, checking out my options for the best interpretation.​​​​​​​
  2. Power: I won’t show any work that doesn’t reveal something of my spirit shining through. I want there to be an emotional connection to my work, and while this is often seen in my sketches as well as more serious paintings, I won’t show a painting that feels stiff and forced to me. If it’s on the wall, I want it to hold a personal connection to the artist.
  3. Completion: A gallery painting often feels like the pinnacle of achievement. I’ve studied the subject, painted it several times, and the “gallery version” is going to be the best of the lot, where I really feel like I’ve said all I need to say about the subject in that painting. I might paint that same scene again in future, but for the approach I’ve taken now, at the artistic level I’m at, it feels “finished.”​​​​​​​
Oscar Wilde said, “Every portrait that is painted is a portrait of the artist, not the sitter,” and I want that to hold true for every landscape and floral “portrait” that I create.
While you may not be able to personally attend my gallery show when it opens in Dawson Creek, British Columbia next year, you can feel assured that in my online gallery, I hold the same standards for my work, and each piece there is a portrait of me, Angela Fehr, one that brings me joy and deep fulfillment through its creation.
Question: If you’re an artist, I’d love to know; do you hold similar criteria for your art? What are some other ways you might select an exceptional painting from your body of work?