As a mature exhibiting artist, you need to create enough work to have a couple of solo exhibits simultaneously. But I know that you want a number.
You’d be happy if I’d say that you’re sitting pretty if you have 20 works in a recognizable style. But I’m not going to do that. (Apologies)
Image (c) Bonnie Hurst, Buffalo Painting #2 (detail)
Some people will tell you to have enough work for two solo exhibits. In her email query to me, Bonnie Hurst noted that Georgia O’Keeffe said three exhibits. Remember back when we used to use slide sheets? We heard that artists needed two pages of slides (40 works) in a recognizable style.
But the answer can’t be the same for every artist. Some artists produce at a much slower rate and the work is grander in scale. They need more room to show it, but fewer pieces to fill the space. Other artists make smaller work. They require less space, but more work to fill it.
Exhibit spaces also vary greatly in size. Unless you’re showing your art at the same place time after time (don’t!), you can’t count on a certain number of pieces.
Bottom line: Use your best judgment. Visit exhibits with artists whose work is similar in size and scale. Count the work if you must.
I think you will know when you’ve hit upon that body of work that defines you. You feel confident in the quality, proud of the results, and ready to share it with the world. Until you feel this way, keep making art.
You can test the waters by entering juried shows here and there, but keep working toward that solo exhibit. You want enough work that when people enter your one-person show or come across it on your website, they know upon sight that the work is yours.