Rejection is something most artists deal with, especially when attempting to take their artwork to the next level of professionalism, i.e. entering juried art shows. It happens to all of us, and especially to artists who are brave enough to put their artwork out there into the world of juried shows. Often times it comes in the form letter, which is worded something like this: “Dear Artist, Thank you for participating in our show”, etc, etc. Bottom line, for whatever the reason, your artwork wasn’t selected. Maybe it didn’t fit the theme or style of the gallery you submitted it to, maybe it was just one person who didn’t like it, or maybe (gasp), it might be a sign that you need to up your game art wise. Whatever the cause, not knowing why your artwork wasn’t accepted into a juried show can cause a lot of insecurity, even making some artists want to give up making art or submitting it for further review.
I have certainly had my share of rejection, be it from art show jurors and I have even had some cutting critiques from people who have critiqued my art. Sometimes it makes me feel like giving up, and I need to take a break to re-group and think about why my work wasn’t accepted. On the other hand, at times these setbacks have led to further growth. For example, after one harsh critique from a well-known artist and teacher, I rebounded by asking myself if there was any truth in what the person said, and if so, how I could improve my artwork. Ultimately, I started trying to paint in a more colorful and impressionistic way, and I took a drawing class which helped me to improve my drawing skills. But it took several days and some encouraging words from an old friend and trusted art teacher to “shake the dust off”, so to speak. I’m still working on not taking it too personally when I get a rejection letter for an art show because unless I talk to the actual juror, I can’t know why my work was rejected. And trying to figure that question out on my own, can lead to filling in the blanks with negative thoughts such as, “Maybe I don’t have any talent,” or something along those lines. This line of thinking is rarely helpful or productive for me.
I recently faced a rejection email from an art gallery where I had submitted what I thought was one of my finest portraits ever. I had gotten a lot of positive feedback about it on Instagram and put in many hours of work. I had carefully selected the theme, trying to make sure it would “fit” with the call for art motif of Inspiration. My expectations were high. Unfortunately, the jurors didn’t agree with me. It’s been a few months since then and I just submitted another piece of artwork to a different gallery for review. A few years ago, that rejection would have taken me out of the game for several months, maybe even years. But now, I am trying to step back from the experience, process the emotion and see what can be learned from it.
So my next step is to try and submit my artwork for review and not the rejection keep me from moving forward and making more art. Below I attached the latest artwork I submitted, for review, To Catch a Thief at The Artist Angle Gallery in Frederick, MD. The entry deadline for this latest show is June 10, 2017, so I should know whether the painting, To Catch a Thief, Reimagined was accepted. This newest painting is inspired by classic cars and the theme of driving. In addition, I used the movie, To Catch a Thief, as a springboard to get the composition and setting for this painting. I combined multiple photos from the movie, based in the French Riviera and stitched them together in Adobe Photoshop as a reference for this painting. This work was painted with acrylic on Ampersand board.