Deciding What to Do With Your Painting Career

Every artist has to decide what they want to achieve. Few of us decide to make it a career when we’re young. Most of us do this much later in life.  But even then, many artists don’t necessarily make art their career. They’re content with simply turning out a decent painting every now and then… (learn more)

Money Matters

Of course it does! Treat your painting as a business. Keep track of what you spend and how much you earn. I’ve learned there are several ways you can make money in the artwork business, but many more ways you can spend it!  Probably the most important thing to do is to spend it wisely and enjoy what you spend it on.  I do believe you can actually combine business and pleasure to achieve great artwork! (learn more)

Marketing Your Artwork

Except for the period of time following graduation from college when I was apprenticing, a short stint in the military, and another brief assignment with the federal government, I’ve always run my own business and been responsible for marketing my services… as an architect, energy consultant, college instructor, and… most recently… watercolor artist… (learn more)

art storm, painting of storm over house, watercolor storm

Click Picture to Purchase: “Approaching Storm at Bigfork, MT”

Putting Together A Website

These days you need a website to exhibit your work, to communicate with others, not only potential clients, but jurors, students, galleries, other exhibit venues, and the general public… (learn more)

Contracts and Agreements

You should have a written agreement when you sell your original artwork, particularly commissioned work. Make sure you keep copies of these signed agreements. You don’t need sales agreements for reproductions, simply sales receipts. These receipts are helpful at the end of each year when you have to calculate your gross income. Just make sure the buyer’s name, date of purchase, and all items purchased are recorded legibly on this receipt… (learn more)

Exhibiting Your Work

Being an artist implies that you exhibit your artwork, certainly if you wish to sell it.  But even if you’re not interested in selling your work, it’s that mystical exchange between an artwork and its beholder which defines the magical event.  I believe in facilitating such exchanges. I LIVE for them… (learn more)

joe's market, painting of a market, watercolor market

Click Picture to Purchase: “Joe’s Market, Torrance”

Group Art Exhibits

There are all kinds of group exhibits. Each is different, if for no other reason than the fact they all end up with different artists and artwork!  You have to read the prospectus for each exhibit carefully to find out what makes each one different from another. Do your homework so you don’t make the mistake of submitting something that doesn’t meet the specified requirements and consequently won’t be accepted…. (learn more)

Solo Exhibits

Group exhibits are one thing, solo exhibits are quite another. Solo exhibits are done for various reasons: to place artwork out in front of people so they’ll call attention to a particular artist’s work. They are also generally designed to target a select group of people that will attend the opening reception and buy your artwork.  The number and frequency of such exhibits is important information which you’ll want to include in your bio and resume… (learn more)

Setting Up & Managing Solo Exhibits

Once you’ve located a proper place for your exhibit, there are many other things you have to make decisions about… (learn more)

Watercolor peak, painting of a mountain, peak painting, mountain art

Click Picture to Purchase: “Hollister Peak, San Luis Obispo, CA”

Photographing Your Artwork

If you want to make reproductions of your work, you need a proper photographic image of your painting. If you want to enter your artwork in juried exhibits, you need to submit a slide or digital image. This applies to most art exhibits, but for most local art association exhibits, you only have to submit the painting itself… (learn more)

Reproductions of Your Artwork

Artists want and need reproductions identical to their original artwork. The level of detail or resolution of a reproduction is determined by the capacity of the image-making equipment. The size of the reproduction is determined by the capacity of the printer. Identify outfits that can do this work at locations where you might need to have these made. Also find out how much lead-time they need to accomplish the work… (learn more)

Paper for Reproductions

The size and quality of a print is not only a function of the digital image, but also the paper on which it’s printed, in addition to the ink and equipment used. For reproductions of original art, use paper that resembles more nearly that on which you did your painting.  Check out the reproduction your photographer is able to produce by having them make prints of a couple of your artworks. If the photographer doesn’t have the proper equipment to do this, find someone else who does… (learn more)

watercolor boatyard, boatyard painting, morro bay painting

Click Picture to Purchase: “View of Morro Bay Boatyard”

Organizing Your Artwork

There comes a time when every artist has to organize their work. For me, this happened when I couldn’t find my paintings. I simply couldn’t remember where they were. I had exhibits and paintings all over the place! When you’re exhibiting your work aggressively, this is bound to happen. Of course, if you were to generate transmittals and could properly file and retrieve them, this would go a long way towards solving such problems… (learn more)

Storing Your Artwork

Once you take on art as a career, you’ll start cranking out artwork.  Over the years all these paintings can end up anywhere… all over your home, studio, or where ever you might exhibit it for whatever period of time… hopefully many different places and forever!  But, of course, don’t forget those paintings you’ve sold or gifted to family and close friends… those hundred or so paintings that already belong to people who admire your work… (learn more)

Packaging, Shipping & Handling Your Artwork

Proper packing and shipping of artwork becomes an issue once you have to ship paintings to exhibits, galleries, and clients. You must package your artwork so it won’t get damaged… (learn more)

watercolor expert, expert watercolorist, harbor scene painting, dana point harbor watercolor

Click Picture to Purchase: “Dana Point Harbor Scene, San Luis Obispo”

Insuring Your Artwork

The matter of whether to insure your artwork or any other stuff connected with your art business is something you should consider seriously. Even if you don’t take out insurance, you need to take steps to minimize the risk of losing your artwork or causing damage to it… (learn more)


Douglas Stenhouse also wrote a book about watercolor painting.

“I decided to write about how I paint, not only to share my observations with others, but also, frankly, to do some self- examination. I wish I had done this earlier in my life! But then, how was I to know I’d benefit from doing so, certainly at a time when I had no aspirations of becoming a professional artist.” 

To learn more about Doug’s Watercolor Painting Book and/or purchase a signed copy, click here.

Douglas Simms Stenhouse, watercolor artist, transparent water color art, watercolor painter, painting with water colors