Making a living

Best Juried Show Rejection Letter EVER!

Checking You Out 12x12" - Now, really. How could they resist this face?

Rejection hurts, no doubt about it. You slave away and do the best piece of art you can and, clunk, it doesn’t get in. I’ve certainly gotten my share of rejection letters since I first started to enter juried shows in 2002. There are two shows that I’ve entered at least six or seven times each and still have not gotten in.

But I don’t make excuses. I don’t blame the judges. I don’t tell myself “It’s all subjective”. And I don’t scream and throw things (although that might be kind of fun). Until recently I assumed that my work simply wasn’t good enough yet. That still may be true, but I work hard to view my paintings objectively and at this point I feel that I know when I’ve nailed it. Only so many pieces will be accepted and only so many in a given genre, media and size. Sometimes your piece is just the odd one out.

So, if I don’t get in, it means that….I didn’t get in.

Which brings us to my latest rejection. I entered Salon International, the top-notch Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art show, for the first time last year and had two of my three entries accepted! What a rush! And they were animal subjects (against which there can be definite bias in the mainstream art world) and both Mongolia subjects. So I got in on my terms with my subject matter of choice.

Guess what? I won’t have anything in the show this year. Bummer. But wait, here’s relevant excerpts from the rejection letter that went out to all of us. I was so impressed by it that I wrote to the gallery owner thanking him and asking if I could use it for a blog post, for which he graciously gave permission.

This is a perfect primer for any artist who wants to enter the juried show arena. Notice that it’s not about you personally, it’s the merit of your work only that is being judged. Read carefully how they define “artistic excellence”. There’s your checklist.

Dear Artist,

We congratulate you for having the courage to “throw your hat in the ring” of competition and for submitting one or more entries to Salon International 2012!

Salon International 2012 will be a spectacular exhibit of 434 paintings selected from 1,112 entries representing 44 states plus DC in the USA and 18 additional countries. As this event is open to all oil painters of traditional representational subject matter worldwide, the entries represent an extremely wide range of artistic skill and ability. In selecting paintings for the exhibit the jury was looking for over-all artistic excellence. In determining the presence of artistic excellence the following components were considered heavily: composition / design, focal point, use of color, paint manipulation, unification, originality, creativity, feeling, and choice of subject matter. When a painting is not selected for exhibit it does not necessarily mean that the jury does not like or respect it. As with any competition, a line has to be drawn. Where that line falls is always, at least partially, determined by space limitations.

The 1,112 total entries this year reflect a 9 1/2% decrease from last year. The over-all strength of the entries was greatly increased, resulting in more paintings being included in the exhibit than ever before, with a grand total of 434. Obviously, we can’t continue to increase the size of the exhibit every year. This means that we will have to become even more selective in the jury process. It means that wonderful paintings will be competing with other wonderful paintings. What does this mean for you? It means that each year the bar of artistic excellence is raised higher, the competition among artists becomes even greater, the awards are more meaningful and Salon International becomes more prestigious and more respected!

The major goal of Salon International is to both encourage and challenge artists worldwide to continuously strive for artistic excellence. If your entry was not accepted for this exhibit it should not be taken as a defeat but should be considered simply as a challenge to continue that constant stretch for a higher level of artistic skill and excellence. We encourage each one of you to continue to accept the challenges along the path which leads to the rewards of excellence and to continue to “throw your hat in the ring” of competition. Competitions are a healthy component of the growth process, creating opportunities to set and achieve goals, setting forth examples to follow, and rewarding excellence.

A list of accepted artist names and images for the Salon International 2012 exhibit can be viewed online at http://si.greenhousegallery.com. The entire Salon International 2012 exhibit can be viewed on line at http://www.greenhousegallery.com beginning on or possibly before April 14th. The awards will also be posted on this web site beginning April 14th .

We appreciate your participation in Salon International 2012 and your part in helping to make it a success. We have every intention to continue to build this event into one of the most prestigious and highly respected juried exhibits in the world. We welcome you to continue to participate in this exciting journey!

Very sincerely,

Will I enter again next year? Does paint dry?

6 replies »

  1. I should write a thank you more often – your paintings and photographs are joy to see. This blog was especially inspiring and it is the best rejection letter ever! I manage my rejections fairly well, although I have been known to snarl in frustration at my computer screen now and again. But the rejection letter made me remember why I take those risks; your work and your artist’s life enrich my own art journey. Thank you. Janis Anton

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  2. I found the link to your post on Facebook and quite agree; it is a lovely well written letter. I wrote a similar post on my blog, “rejections I’ve had a few” none of which measure up to this letter. It’s nice to see that some people do actually put an effort into their writing and take into account the person that will be reading it.

    Good luck next year!

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  3. had you put horns on the animal itcould have represented a musk ox I personally think it is a great painting I am a sculptor myself and work in stone I sometimes question the individual who is the jurist

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