But the idea caught on. Twenty-four members of the Valley Artists Association submitted as many as five works of art each; 103 pieces hang in the exhibit.
At first glance, the exhibit may overwhelm visitors. Artwork hangs in "stacks" of three or four, salon style. Many pieces are jammed on little wall space. But taking in the show slowly, looking closely at each piece, allows the small images to stand individually.
Hartman said that as an artist, she likes the idea of miniature art.
"Art is expensive to do," she said. "So this is a way to get started. Instead of experimenting with a full-size, $10 piece of watercolor paper, I can try something on a little scrap. This takes the scariness away."
Eyecatching works at the show include Lucille Murray's flowers, Kent Roberts' animals, Ruth Durbin's lighthouses and a barnyard scene of chickens painted by Hartman.
Miniature art has a long history. Cameo portraits were popular in renaissance Europe. Hindu and Muslim countries in south and southwest Asia developed a tradition of miniature religious paintings.
The show at the Mansion House was inspired by the annual miniature show at Chambersburg (Pa.) Area Council of Arts, Hartman said. Anne Finucane, director of the Chambersburg gallery, said this year's autumn exhibit will be the 20th annual show.
"We do the miniature show because it's something patrons like," Finucane said. "A lot of people don't have room (for larger artwork) in their homes anymore. And there's also a fascination with small objects in general."
The Mansion House show will continue through June. Hartman said this may be the beginning of a regular feature.
"The response is so good, I guess you could call this our first annual miniature show," she said.
If you go...
Miniature art show
Paintings and one drawing, all 4 by 6 inches or smaller.
Mansion House Art Gallery
501 Highland Way, near the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in City Park, Hagerstown
Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Artwork is on sale; most prices are between $50 and $100. The show continues in the North Gallery through Monday, May 31, then will be hung in other display rooms in the Mansion House.