Dealing with Rejection

Italian Eating Italian – Intimate Spaces, Breaking Bread Series. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30. Kit Miracle

Having your art rejected from a show or exhibition can often be baffling, and sometimes a bit painful.  Even for someone like me who has been entering shows for nearly forty years, there is still a little twinge when I receive that rejection letter.  More often I am just puzzled.

For instance, the painting above, Italian Eating Italian which is from my Intimate Space Series: Breaking Bread, and which was exhibited for a two month show.  It received a lot of attention and was a favorite among many.  It exudes a bonhomie and welcoming attitude.  I would watch visitors gravitate towards the painting from across the gallery.  Something about the hint of a smile, the subject matter, the lighting.  It was a very popular painting.

I have since entered the painting in a couple of exhibits.  One in which I felt sure it would be accepted…was instead rejected.  Whaaaaaa????  I’ve been in that show in previous years but not this year.  That pinched a little.  Also, since I have attended the show in previous years, I was aware of the quality of portraits in the show.  Not too impressed.  Oh, well.

The same painting was later entered into another show.   It won BEST OF SHOW.  That is always a pleasant surprise.  But I try not to get too full of myself, either. 

The whole point is that on any given day, the selection could have gone either way.  Best to keep that in mind.

I have been the judge for a number of shows over the years.  It is not easy and sometimes the organizations have special conditions to be met:  X number of landscapes, portraits, abstracts, etc.  Sometimes the shows are open to members only.  On any given day, the selections could go one way or another.

Many times over the years, I’ve sat with judges as they reviewed and selected the entrants for exhibits.  Some judges are cursory and flippant about the matter, speeding through so they can get to their free lunch.  Others review and review and review, taking enormous amounts of time to make their selections.  And there have been a few who only seemed to focus on artists who paint in their own style or medium.  That irritates me quite a bit.

Over the years my work has been accepted into shows which I now realize I probably wasn’t skilled or talented enough to actually merit being in.  And other shows where my work and experience exceeded the expectations, it was rejected.

It’s a puzzle.  

My suggestion is….no matter what your artistic talent or medium….to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back into the fray.  Maybe a review of the exhibit will help you to get a better grasp of what was considered acceptable and desirable.  Maybe you don’t (yet) have the skills or professionalism to have your work hung in the exhibit.  Maybe it just wasn’t your year.  Many times you can enter the exact same piece the following year with a different judge and it will be accepted.

If this is what you really want, don’t give up.  Be objective about your work and keep trying.  It will happen eventually. 

Italian Eating Italian, close up of head. Notice the slight Mona Lisa smile.

3 responses to “Dealing with Rejection

  1. Virginia Nickle Artist Gallery

    Great read, true to what so many of us go through.

    Like