The Artist

Rejection (It Sucks)

California Condor  10x8" oil I think this is a great piece and was hoping the small size would turn the trick for a first time acceptance. Uh, nope.

California Condor 10×8″ oil
I think this is a great piece and was hoping the small size would turn the trick for a first time acceptance. Uh, nope.

My colleague and fellow SAA member Sandra Blair has written a great blog post called “Salon des Refuses” taken from the original exhibition that a number of the French Impressionists and other “modern” artists mounted in 1863 when their work was rejected for the Salon of the French Academy, which was a bastion of traditional realistic painting and sculpture.

Sandra’s topic is the artists who were rejected by the jurors of this year’s Birds in Art competition, the most prestigious bird art exhibition in the world. And I’m one of them. For the eighth year in a row. I’ve never gotten in. But as you will see if you click through to Sandra’s post and scroll down, I’m in very good company indeed. And don’t miss the comments. Kathy Foley, the Director of the museum which hosts the exhibition, has posted some thoughtful observations.

Our respective posts are absolutely not intended to take away anything from the artists who have had their work accepted. Many of them are our friends and colleagues and we are thrilled for them. But rejection stings, particularly with social media like Facebook, on which one sees the happy announcements of acceptance while waiting with hope fading that the magic email will arrive in one’s own inbox. And doesn’t. Sigh. Another rejection.

Raven on Big Head Rock, Ikh Nart  oil  30x20" I thought this was a great piece and was hoping that a big "wow" painting would turn the trick for first time acceptance. Uh, nope.

Raven on Big Head Rock, Ikh Nart oil 30×20″
I thought this was a great piece and was hoping that a big “wow” painting would turn the trick for first time acceptance. Uh, nope.

The important thing to remember is that if one doesn’t get into a show it means…..that one didn’t get into the show. Life goes on. There will be more shows. It’s crazy to take an exhibition rejection personally. Don’t do it.

Also…don’t make excuses. I have always taken the rejections as a challenge to get my work to the next level. That seems to be incredibly difficult for many artists to do. But if you can face the fact that maybe the reason you didn’t get in is that your entry wasn’t good enough, it provides the opportunity for growth. Blaming the jurors for being “subjective” or excusing yourself because you don’t have an “in” with the “right people” will not.

So, here’s a plan. Let yourself utterly wallow in self-pity for, oh, say, ten minutes. Let all those thoughts about how unfair it is and how the jurors are blind idiots who wouldn’t know good work if they were smacked along side the head with it bubble up. Cry. Snivel. (Carefully) throw something. And then get back to doing the thing you most love in the world, making art.

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