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Mind Map for Solo Exhibition

by Ruth Soller on 12/6/2013 7:29:26 AM

This post is by guest author, Ruth Soller.  This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 25,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.



Behind the Scenes


If you have been invited to present a solo exhibition of your artwork, you may relate to my feeling of overwhelm at the number of tasks neccessary to produce a first-rate show. I'd like to share with you how I corralled my runaway thoughts into a manageable order. Mind mapping is a form of brainstorming which I studied in the book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael J. Gelb. The benefit of this process is that you allow both sides of your brain to function together while thinking creatively. 


Using a large sheet of paper, begin in the center with your main concept which you wish to explore or your key problem which you wish to solve. Allow your mind to suggest main ideas or steps which naturally flow from your main concept or problem. Place these categories as channels or bubbles flowing outward from the central idea. In order to achieve each of these categories, you will likely require smaller steps or sub-categories. Continue to draw arrows out from each category to its subcategories. Proceed with this until you think that you have covered all elements which will be needed to complete your project or solve your problem.


Make your map as simple or as elaborate as you desire by using drawings, colors, or varying scripts.  Remember, the purpose of the mind map is not to create an aesthetic illustration but to organize all of your rambling thoughts and concerns about your project on one diagram. You will feel your confusion and anxiety drift away as you realize that you now can begin productive work, knowing that nothing will slip through the cracks. If you think of additional points later, simply add them in the appropriate section of your mind map.


The image above is my example which I created in order to manage the production on my solo exhibition. I chose to highlight tasks as I tackled them; so that I could see at a glance what needed to be done next. In general, I began at the top center of the mind map by deciding on the theme and title of my show. I was able to start here because I had already completed a large number of paintings and needed to narrow them down for a cohesive theme. I engaged my husband and son in selecting a title for the show with the prerequisite that I prefer descriptive titles which I think aids visability in search engines.


Once the theme, title, and paintings had been selected I worked mostly clockwise around my map, keeping in mind any deadlines which I scheduled on my calendar. Next, I focused on the most physically demanding chore of framing my works. Since my venue is local I was able to take photos of the walls in the gallery and to use my limited Photoshop skills to virtually place my paintings in the gallery. I wrote press releases and submitted them to newspapers, newsletters, and online newsletters. I designed and ordered large postcards from with a printed invitation to my artist reception and mailed them to collectors, galleries, media contacts, friends, family and acquantances. I posted my show invitation on my social media and wrote an article for my monthly artist e-newsletter.


Share in the comments how you plan for a solo exhibition? How have you found mind mapping helpful?




Editor's Note:  You can view Ruth's original post here.



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Related Posts:

10 Ways for Artists to Use Mind Mapping

Eight Exercises Guaranteed to Stimulate Your Creativity

Topics: Art Business | creativity | FineArtViews | Guest Posts | inspiration 

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Michael Cardosa
Hi Ruth,

Have never used Mind Mapping myself but I'm a big believer in lists for anything on a large scale. It's amazing the minor seeming but important details you can skip over without something bringing order to the process.

I'll have to give this a try. Thanks for the posting.



Ruth Soller
Thank you for your input. I also use lists, but sometimes have so many different lists that I'm not sure what needs to be done next. Prioritizing tasks so that we continue to move forward is the key. Ruth

Dee Sanchez
Great article!
I've used mind mapping before but I must admit, I usually end up making list after list on big pieces of cardstock, which I narrow down and down, until near the exhibition date, I have ONE final to-do list to contend with. Mind mapping is much easier, but I could see where combining the two might work well for me. Thanks!

Ruth Soller
Thank you for your comments. I agree that it may work well to combine lists and mind map. It would be reassuring to see your task list get smaller as you approach your big day.

Cathy de Lorimier
This is a brilliant example of how to organize for a solo show or any big event! I used mapping to teach my 9 year old students how to organize thoughts for writing a paper, but I can see that this is a tool with many possibilities. Too bad one couldn't hilight all the tasks NOT completed, and then un-hilight them when completed. :) Thanks for reminding me of this valuable tool which only requires paper and pencil.

Faith Dance
Hi Ruth,
Very interesting approach. I just had a solo exhibition in Vienna, Austria, and there were minor things that fell between the cracks, eg we forgot to organize somebody who takes fotos during the opening.

Apart from that, everything worked fine but I always forget how much work it is. ;-) It would not have happened without the many volunteer helpers from among my friends and one friend who coordinated them all.

I think mind mapping is great when you want to greenlight on everything that needs doing. However, I am not so sure that it is a good solution for prioritizing tasks. But then - everybody works / thinks differently.

All the best,
Faith Dance

Susan G Holland
Great advice, Ruth. This reminds me of a chart I made for a counselor who was helping me sort out family relationships and conflicts. The galaxy consisted of near and distant people and the lines between them and me, and them and them were designed to express hot or cool relationships, back and forth. It taught me so much about my own issues, and about the dynamics of my large family.

There were a few lines that went a LOT of ways, showing some central perpetrators! And told the counselor where my own hot issues were.

Ruth Soller
I think it is wonderful that you are teaching mind mapping to 9 year olds for writing a paper.
I would have been grateful for a teacher like you when my sons were that age.

Congratulations on a solo show in Vienna, Austria! What a wonderful experience for you. How blessed you are with many volunteers to help with your show and with one friend who coordinated everything.

I never thought of using mind mapping for diagraming family relationships and conflicts. I do remember a class in family relationships in which there was a chart of the possible lines of communication within a family and how quickly these lines increased with the addition of a new family member. It looked like a spider web.

Mark McDermott
I have used the Mind Mapping technique before and find it very useful. However I used software to manage the process and would think doing it on one sheet of paper would be difficult. That is because one of the great things about mind maps is that as you go you discover groupings and associations you were not aware of at the outset. This means that something you initially associated with a concept on the upper right hand of the page now belongs in the lower left. You either draw a long arrow around or start a new map.

If I was going to use paper and pencil I would get a pack of those tiny post-it notes in multiple colors and write my ideas, concepts, and to-do's on them and paste them up on a large sheet of paper, then I could move them around as new groupings and orders became apparent.

There is a good reference for the best software tools at, some of which are free.

Jana Botkin
Thank you for explaining the origins and function of mind mapping. I've seen it around and wondered about it. You are so right - sometimes lists aren't organized enough.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello Ruth..

Wow! Mind Mapping. Enlightening article. What a great idea. I feel out there in the deep blue yonder. Had never heard of it. Guess I have had my head buried in the ground like an ostrich. (Isn't that what they do?)

Feel dumb here. Hmmmm. Mind mapping..thanks for the diagram too.

Thank you for pulling my head up out of the sand.

Susan G Holland
via are not alone in your sandy-headedness. I wouldn't have known about this until I tried to put together a book with chapters for a friend! Then I ran into programs with charts of all kinds.

I had no idea when I was mapping our family dysfunction that there was a name for it.

Your are NOT DUMB, BTW Hug, Susan

Ruth Soller
Thank you for posting the link for mind mapping software. I'm sure that this would make the process neater than on plain paper by allowing us to move items around.

I'm glad that you enjoyed the article.

I hope you won't feel bad about learning something new. I also feel like burying my head when faced with new computer technologies which I need to learn.

Sandy Askey-Adams

Thank you Susan for the encouragement. Any kind of machines and I do not seem to get along that well. Could tell you guys some really funny stories, but they would be embarrassing.

Ruth...There is soooooo much I have yet to learn and try on the computer. All those programs drive me crazy!! Not a matter of feeling is a matter of feeling like a dork. LOL
Hmmm, guess that is about the same.

I just to do what I must and bite the dust and act smart.

Susan G Holland
Sandy, you seem to be bent on getting your head down near the ground! Head in the sand, and biting the dust! I am smiling. I'm a fellow traveler, you see.

Dork? Uncool? Etc., yes, member of the human race...we all put on our pants one leg at a time.

I call it authentic. Yay for authentic.

Marian Fortunati
Great organization, Ruth!

I remember we worked on helping kids develop their stories using mind maps. It is a great tool in a huge arsenal of learning for kids and adults alike.

I like the way you highlighted your completed tasks. Helps you see visually how much you have accomplished and yet to do.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Thanks Susan...and Ruth again.

Yep Susan, and I do not like getting dust in my eyes. (Hmmm, and I work with pastels.)

Oh, and thanks for that hug earlier too. Forgot to thank you. :)

Just got off amazon ordering some Christmas gifts. Also ordered a book titled "God's Bucket List: Heaven's surefire way to Happiness in This Life and Beyond." Guess that doesn't fit the topic of this blog though.

Sorry Ruth for the change of subject for that minute.
You have given me another thing to help with the art for 2014. I will look into it. Those artists who have tried it seem to realy like using it. If I have a problem, I'll be in touch with you. :) It will take me a while though.

Gotta go frame three paintings.
Love all these postings from all you artists!!!! So much sharing and comradship.

Mark Edward Adams
This is a very interesting concept. This visual concept approach is really hot right now as applied to business plans. The most well known book about it is "Business Model Generation" by Osterwalder and Pigneur. I used it for my business plan. There is also a youtube video which is pretty cool.

Ruth Soller
I appreciate your comments and I think your paintings are beautiful. I'm glad you have enjoyed working with children.

I didn't realize visual concepts are a trend in business plans. Thank you for sharing the Business Model Generation book with us.

Hi Ruth,
Great article! As a former photographer myself, I know how much work an exhibition is and how important it is to have a good system for planning, organizing and managing it. I think drawing a mind map by hand is a great way to stimulate your brain, especially because of the haptic experience and the freedom it offers.
Mind mapping software has a lot of advantages too though, like being able to add deadlines and priorities to tasks, share your maps with colleagues and collaborate with them, or simply modify the map as you finish certain tasks and new ones appear. There are many different tools out there, but you can find a list of some of the best ones here:


Ruth Soller
Thank you for your comments and for your link to mind mapping tools. I'm sure there are advantages to creating and updating your map on the computer, over just a paper copy.
Cheers! Ruth

Elva Robinson

I think this article is just what I needed. I have a solo exhibit coming up in just over a year, and this looks like a great idea to get and keep me organized. I'm going the paper-and pencil route, not so much because of a fear of technology as because I want to get started now. I think I will try using post-it notes, as Mark McDermott suggested.

Thanks for sharing this !


Ruth Soller
You're welcome. I'm so glad that my article is helping you prepare for your solo exhibit.


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