Award-winning artist Sophie Ploeg on the joys of exhibiting…

Sophie Ploeg has seen her work exhibited at the BP Portrait Awards, the Pastel Society, the RBSA and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. What keeps her entering her work? For Sophie, it’s simple…

You Just Never Know… 



Many artists think of entering open exhibitions as a waste of time. I could not disagree more!

They are wonderful opportunities for beginning as well as professional artists alike! Admittedly, open exhibitions can be a little tough on artists. Refusals are hard to take and submission fees mount up way too easily.

So why is it a good idea to submit to open exhibitions? There are lots of reasons.

If your work gets selected it will be seen by an audience who perhaps had not seen your work before. Most open exhibitions are visited by eager art collectors, gallery owners, publishers and other well-connected people from the art world.

Getting your work in front of them can only mean good things!

Pastel Society 2014

Submitting your work to open exhibitions is always a bit of a gamble. The selection is dependent on the taste and expertise of the judges, the type of show they are putting together, what else is being submitted and so much more. If your work is selected you can consider it a wonderful confirmation of your hard work.

But if it does not get selected it certainly does not mean your work is not good enough.

It might not even mean the judges did not like it. Refusal can be for lots of reasons. Perhaps your framing let you down, or perhaps the judges had lots of works in a similar style. Perhaps your subject matter didn’t suit the exhibition goals, or perhaps your pricing was way out compared to the rest of the show. Perhaps they preferred impressionist over expressionist work, or the other way round. It could be a hundred-and-one reasons.

So if your work is not selected, do not take it personally.

I know from plenty of experience it is tough to have your work refused, and it can get you down. You must only submit if you can take the rejection and you can afford the fee. Be ready to dust yourself off and get back into the studio in full fighting spirit. You will show them.

RWA 2014

Submitting to the RBSA is a great way to get your work seen and ‘out there’. I have exhibited in the Portrait Prize exhibition twice and enjoyed the experience very much.

Not only was my work shown amongst works by some great established artists, I also got to meet these artists, meet new people and see new art. I received emails from visitors who enjoyed the show and my work, and took the effort to write to me.

I got to go to the private view and met lots of artists I had only heard of until then. And who knows, one day someone will commission a portrait or buy a painting and tell me that they saw one of my pieces at the RBSA and it just stuck in their mind.

Sophie Ploeg, ‘Joshua’

Sometimes it goes like that and it is always wonderful to hear how people come to find you and your work. And very often it is because they saw your work somewhere and it stayed with them.

The RBSA is a fantastic Society to support and be a part of. Submitting my work will help us both. So why not give it a go! You just never know…

By Sophie Ploeg

The RBSA has lots of opportunities for artists in 2018. Check out our Call for Entries, and get submitting! If you would like to guest blog for us, get in touch!

Call for entries



Sophie Ploeg is an award-winning artist specialising in portraiture and textiles in oils and pastel. Her work has been exhibited at the BP Portrait Awards, the Pastel Society, the RBSA and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Collectors are found in Europe as well as the US.  Her work is inspired by art history, especially the Dutch and English 17th century old masters. She loves depicting textiles such as lace and velvet as well as creating evocative portraits.

Sophie writes a popular blog for artists and art lovers which can be found at

#opportunitiesforartists #Buyart #artforsale #artexhibition #CallforEntries #exhibitionsinBirmingham #competition #gallerywalls #artgalleryinBirmingham

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