Posted on 21 Comments

How to display Art in a Pandemic

Emma Cownie

We have been in full lockdown since last Friday and the the terrible weather (I write this to the sound of of rain lashing against against the windows) makes it a all a lot tougher to endure. The clocks went back too, so good quality light to paint by has been in short supply.  I have, nevertheless,  just finished a large scale painting and I am now working on a commission.

The Approaching Storm (On Dunlewy Lough), Ireland
The Approaching Storm (On Dunlewy Lough), Ireland – Work in Progress


I wanted to write about how you can “show” your work when you are social distancing. On this wordpress site I am able to show more than one photos of my paintings in the “shop” section.  It is useful to take photos of a painting in a studio so you can get a sense of the scale of the painting.

The Approaching Storm (On Dunlewy Lough), Ireland
The Approaching Storm (On Dunlewy Lough), Ireland


Here it is. My most recent painting ” The Approaching Storm (On Dunlewy Lough), Ireland” which is 100cm x 80cm (approx 39″x 31″). I will often post a “in the studio” photos of painting to help give a sense of the sense of the painting, but they dont really show the painting at its best. A real life exhibition would be good but its not pratictical (or allowed) at the moment. 

The Approaching Storm (On Dunlewy Lough), Ireland
The Approaching Storm (On Dunlewy Lough), Ireland – In my attic studio


The next best way of displaying my painting is using an online app which show the work “in situ” in a computer generated room.  Online galleries will often provide these sorts of images as part of the membership of the site (e.g. Singulart and Artfinder) but the choice of rooms is limited and often they won’t provide them for smaller works. 

Donegal Painting by Emma Cownie
Artfinder mock up


Donegal painting by Emma Cownie
Singulart Mock Up


I have spent some time searching online for apps so I could do this myself and have more control of the choice of rooms and colour of the walls.  It was difficult to find sites that showed works to scale.  There is not much point showing people a mock up that makes your painting look much bigger or smaller than it is in real life. That would be misleading. Unfortunately, most of the good ones were only available for ipads (we dont have one) or on android (too fiddly on a smart phone) and I was looking for a an app that I could use on my PC.

Eventually I came across a site called “Canvy” which has a free plan which allowed the use of 12 “rooms” and unlimited downloads. It was very esay to use. It was a matter of importing images of paintings, typing dimensions (this is very important so images are to scale) and choosing your backgrounds. It is all drag on drop. It seems to automatically add a frame which might be a bit misleading as I dont frame my paintings, but paint around the edges in a neutral colour (usually blue). Very importantly, the final downloaded images do not have watermarks. It has a plugin which links to Etsy.

There is also a paid plan for $15 a month (40% reduction if you signed up to an annual plan)  with access to over 200 “rooms”, it offers a 30 day free trial for the full version. Maybe there are better sites out there, I would be interested to hear what other artists use. 

Here what a few of the mock-ups look like. Which is your favourite? 

Painting of Errgial, Ireland
The Approaching Storm (On Dunlewy Lough), Ireland on blue wall
Painting of Errigal
The Approaching Storm (On Dunlewy Lough), Ireland on a brick wall
The Approaching Storm (On Dunlewy Lough), Ireland
The Approaching Storm (On Dunlewy Lough), Ireland on mustard wall 


The great thing is that you can put together a mini exhibition too! 

Donegal paintings in situ
Donegal paintings in situ


After looking at al these photographs, I decided to lighten the clouds at the bottom of the Errigal painting. I felt that the black storm clouds were distracting to eye away from the moutnain and its reflection in the loch. 

The Approaching Storm on Dunlewy (Final Version)

To find out more

21 thoughts on “How to display Art in a Pandemic

  1. This is great, Emma. First, I LOVE this painting! It is gorgeous. Second, thanks so much for this post. I had an idea something like this was out there but wasn’t even sure how to go about looking for it. My favorite one is the collection on the brick wall.

    1. Thank you Melissa, my husband liked the brick wall one best too.

  2. What a great idea! I like this and I love your mini exhibition! It gives a sense of the proportion of the paintings and as always I love your colors and the dynamic way your painting brings the scenes to life.

    1. Thank you Leueen. Its certainly more effective than just numerical measurements!

  3. I too have spent many fruitless hours searching for apps and either detesting the really artificial looking rooms or balking at paying a ridiculous price for something better. If I remember correctly Canvy at the time was in the midst of merging with another company and I haven’t been back yet to check how it went. Will have to do that.

    1. Yes,they have only just merged. I was attempting to use one of the site that merged and got sent an email saying that they had relaunced as Canvy.

  4. Thanks for the info Emma. I have wondered for a long time where people find the nice insitu images. I have joined the site. Your paintings look fantastic on all the walls. I especially like the one hanging in the neutral colored room.

    1. Thank you, Pam. I have asked other artists and sometimes their answers are complicated (involving photoshop) or expensive, this seemed like a good solution.

  5. I find the brick wall more appealing because of texture and slight colour differences between the bricks.
    I’m not sure If it distracts from the painting …..or enhances it?

    1. Thank you, Wayne. Personally I like the blue wall but my husband, like you, likes the bricks.

      1. I think each brick wall is like a finger print………unique but a painted wall is uniform no matter what the colour.
        A person could hang a poor painting on a brick wall and make it look better.
        On a painted wall it has no distractions and so is seen for what it is,poor.

      2. That’s a very interesting observation, Wayne. I never thought about it like that!

      3. I’ve noticed the same thing with light.
        A subject in golden light is enhanced and so looks fantastic, but the same subject in poor light looks drab!

  6. Thanks for sharing this information Emma. I love your painting set in different scenes, beautiful way to display the art. I have noticed artists using this kind of mock up but never considered for myself, maybe because my paintings are on the smaller side. I tend to create my own wall display with natural light to take photos.

    1. I have done that in the past too but it’s difficult when they are larger paintings, and especially as out house is full of boxes ready for moving!

  7. What a fabulous way to showcase your work, Emma! I’m full of admiration for people who can ‘find a way’ in these difficult times. Go girl! 🙂 🙂

  8. Great set of examples. An art professor in university taught us the intricacies of how to hang artwork.

  9. I really like your beautiful blog. A pleasure to come stroll on your pages. A great discovery and a very interesting blog. I will come back to visit you. Do not hesitate to visit my universe. A soon.

    1. Thank you, Angelilie

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