Thursday, November 6, 2014

Preparing for an Art Exhibit


Excitement is tangible around here!  For the past few weeks, Kate has been drawing diligently in preparation for the art exhibit in which she will participate this weekend.


The exhibit is an annual fundraiser held by a local library.  This is its 34th year!  It is a highly regarded event, and includes the work of around 100 artists from Indiana and nearby states.  Three teenage girls are included among the artists, one of whom is a close friend of Kate’s, Laurabeth.  At 14 and 16, Kate and Laurabeth are the youngest artists in the exhibit.  Laurabeth has made many sets of beautiful note cards, each card in a set drawn individually and with painstaking attention to detail.  She has an amazing and beautiful gift!  I wish I had a picture of them to show you – hopefully after the exhibit I can post some.

Because this is Kate’s first year as an exhibitor, she was told she could display one or two portraits on the wall, and the rest would be placed in a browse bin for people to look through to purchase.

The two she chose were our favorites:  “Chelsea” and “The Russian Girl”. 

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Not only should they be her best works, but they need to be something which will catch the eye from far away.  These both seem to do that pretty well.


We thought that slender, but detailed frames would best enhance the drawings, without taking attention away from the portraits themselves.  I found two similar frames at Goodwill, size 16x20.  Although one was wood and the other plastic, I planned to finish them with gold Rub-n-buff to give them an elegant gilded appearance.  I used an old sock and applied the paste until the frames were evenly covered, but still had some dark crevices here and there which made them look a little old and dirty.  But in a good way!



Here’s a peek at them with one of the portraits, “Chelsea”, in place.  Notice that pretty detailing on the edges? 



After Kate drew the portraits, she would take each one and spray it with a Fix-a-tive spray to prevent smudging.  She sprayed them on a towel-covered chair in our closet, so they would be out of the way while they dried.  Plus, the spray is amazingly stinky – like spray paint, and the fumes were a little less pervasive inside the closet.



Once they were dry, they needed to be matted.  Because it would have been around 30 dollars to double mat each portrait, since they would need to be custom cut, Glenn and I decided to purchase our own mat board cutter.  I talked with a Hobby Lobby employee about it and he assured me we could do it ourselves.  After looking at the 3 levels of cutters at HL, I chose the least expensive one, because it included a book and DVD about how to cut the mats, and I felt it would be sufficient for what we would need now and for Kate’s commissions and even projects of our own.  Thanks to their 40% off coupon, it was affordable.

Here you can see the various pieces I was using to mat.  The actual cutter itself is the small silver and black piece under the envelope.  It has an angled edge to get that beveled look of a mat.  I ran it carefully alongside the metal support strip on the cutting board, mat upside down, and when I turned it over – voila!  A beveled mat.

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The mat boards are available in large sheets.  We bought 1 or 2 a day, using a 40% off coupon for HL, or a 50% off coupon from Michaels, until we had enough.  For the smaller size portraits, the boards were fairly economical, but since most of Kate’s needed to be cut to a 16x20 frame, we were able to cut only 1 double mat from each sheet of mat board for the large portraits. 


My cutting board came in handy to lay the mat boards and portraits on while measuring them with my yardstick.  The long rectangular thing to the left of the picture is the the cutting board.  Also, in this picture you can see my measurements for one of Kate’s portraits. 

Of course Glenn was a huge help in getting me to see initially how the measurements needed to be taken.  First I cut the mat board so the outside edges would fit into a standard frame:  14x18, 16x20, 11x14 were the most typical.  Here are my scribbles, organized under the names of each portrait, with the outside measurements, minus the measurements of the actual portrait, the inner mat measurements, outer mat measurements and the extra 1/4 inch per side between the 2 mat layers.  Can I just say it was time consuming?  It took me about 45 minutes or more per portrait to double mat and attach a supportive back.  But it was also incredibly rewarding to see the portraits surrounded by the black mat.  They looked so professional and beautiful.


Here’s Georgie Henley with her inner mat.  I have thin pieces of double stick tape around the edges, which I used to adhere the top mat to the inner mat.



It takes a steady hand and careful eye-balling to attach them. I found it was best to keep my eye on the thin 1/4 inch strip between the mats and get them proportionate, rather than lining up all the outer edges.  Once I pressed it down, there were no re-do’s!



The next step was to attach a supportive back to the portrait.  Something that would keep the whole thing from bending when picked up.  We tried a few different mediums, but in the end we liked heavy poster board best.  It was economical, but sturdy enough to do the job. 



Next the portraits needed to be put into clear sleeves for protection and marked with a price and inventory number. This was yet another way we tried to be economical and professional.  We bought cellophane wrapping paper and created individually sized sleeves for the portraits, folding the bottom half up over the top and placing a strip of double stick tape between the layers and along the sides. 


Kate designed and made business cards to include with the portraits, and for the library to hand out to patrons who might be interested in contacting her for commissions.


She also made flyers to hand out, with examples of some of her portraits, and with her contact information via her blog,, and FB page.



A good friend had given some old frames to me a few months ago and I decided to use one of the frames as a way to display Kate’s information at the exhibit.  I gilded the frame with Rub-n-buff, and painted the glass with chalkboard paint.


At last, they are ready to go!

Here they are laid out in their sleeves. 


One final look for all of us, at the fruit of Kate’s labors..



And off they go!


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  1. Your work is awesome Kate so beautiful! Kelly you did a great job on all the framing.
    WE are excited for you and look forward to seeing your work at the exhibit!!!! The Childers family

    1. Thank you, Alice!! And thanks for that frame, too! ;)

      Can't wait to see you all at the exhibit!

  2. Wow! I'm so glad we got to see it all at the art show tonight. Well done!!

    1. Thank you, Sharron! Thanks so much for coming! Kate loves Callie and was so glad to see her.