How to Survive the Painting Check-In Process – Oh My!

By Beth Verheyden

With adored painting in trembling hands, she struggles to open the heavy door. Once inside scowling faces stare at her. She trembles from head to toe. Sweat breaks out on her forehead, feeling like she might throw up at any moment. “NNNEXXXT!” utters a deep voice that surely must belong to the sleep-, chocolate-, and water-deprived. “Why did I ever submit my painting when I knew I’d have to go through this?!” she berates herself.

Once again, the everything-good-in-life-deprived voice urges, “I SAID NNNEXXXT!” She considers turning around and running back to the car to avoid the agony that’s sure to come. She’s heard all about the Painting Police who find fault with even the smallest error, who can turn a confident artist into a queasy bundle of nerves. She chides herself again for submitting to this torture. Her knees are about to give way. A river of sweat runs down her back as she lifts her painting onto the table…

Does any of this sound familiar? Do you feel even a little bit of trepidation when delivering your painting to one of our shows? Well, from where I sit, I sure hope not! But, I believe the reality is that many of you do, and I’d like to help you survive the painting check-in process.

Let’s talk about what I’m looking for when you put your painting on the table in front of me.

  • Once the mat and frame have been checked to comply with the Prospectus, your painting moves to my table.
  • First, I make sure you brought the painting that my computer screen says was juried into the show. That small detail is pretty important. J
  • Now comes the part where you need to be the most attentive: the original painting you bring to the show has to be matted on all 4 edges as the image you submitted online.

Here’s a picture example of a painting that may have been submitted to a show and juried in by a juror:

image1This next one is an example of the same painting, matted and ready to be checked-in, but it has been matted (cropped) so that it shows a different image than what was submitted to the juror:


There is no building on the left side and much of the top of the sky has been cropped out. If this painting had been delivered to the painting check-in and cropped (matted) like this, it would not be allowed in the show because it has been matted to show a different image than what was originally submitted.

It’s way too easy to make this mistake when you mat your painting if you don’t keep track of where you want your painting cropped. Here are a few tips on how to guarantee that your photographed image (the one you submit) is exactly the same as your matted painting (the one you bring to check-in):

Option 1

  1. Place crop marks in all 4 corners of your original painting where you want the image to be cropped.
  2. Take it to a professional photographer and ask that it be photographed to the crop marks.
  3. Leave the crop marks in place during the matting process.
  4. Mat the painting to the crop marks.
  5. Don’t try to fit your painting into a mat you already have. That mat may have been cut to a different image size and won’t fit the new painting.

Option 2

  1. Mat your painting before photographing it.
  2. If you’re doing your own photography, make sure that you shoot the photo straight on. If you shoot at even the slightest angle, it will throw off your image and will force you to crop the image on your computer, thereby causing everything to be off.
  3. If you’re not sure you can shoot the photo straight on, have a professional photograph it for you. It’s worth the money! Most professionals will photograph your painting with a mat on it. You just need to instruct them to photograph to the inside edges of the mat, without showing any mat.

More than anything else, I want your painting in the show. It was juried in by the juror and deserves to hang with the rest. Every juror we’ve had in the past few years, when asked about this issue with cropped images, has told us in no uncertain terms, that they expect us to disqualify any painting that is not the same as the image they saw when they juried it in. And yes, they were talking about matting the painting so that it exactly matches the submitted image that they saw.

You don’t have to shake and sweat when you bring your painting to check-in. Just make sure that your matted painting exactly matches the image of the painting that you submitted. Please, check and double check the acceptance letter and supporting documents to make sure you’ve followed the instructions.

And for the end of story, that everything-good-in-life-deprived voice that greets you with “NNNEXXT!” when you come in the door, does LOVE CHOCOLATE! Yes, that would be me. J