Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rejection to Self Conviction


Rejection from a show is a very touchy thing for most artists. When I first began entering shows a rejection notice would send me off moping for days. I felt as if the wind was knocked out of me. It would take a week before I felt like picking up the brush again. The feeling of hurt and rejection was overwhelming. My husband began to dread me entering shows…I can see why!

About 10 years ago my education and understanding of how certain shows are judged was increased when I served a two year term as the Exhibition Director of the National Watercolor Society. The society is one of the highest rated associations in the watercolor community. The annual international exhibition is selected with the greatest of integrity. The first year I had an eye opening experience. I sat in the room while the 3 judges selected the show. The judges viewed paintings projected on a screen. No talking is allowed and the judges vote yes or no with a device. No one knew how the other was voting. On this day the judges had to select 100 paintings from over 1300 entries. It is a very long day. In the first round of viewing all the painting more than half were rejected. How long do you think the judges viewed each painting, 2 minutes, 5 minutes…? How about an average of less than 10 seconds! My painting was rejected in the first round, and my heart sank.

That evening I cried and I poured out my heart out to my husband. Through Mike’s great wisdom, understanding, and love I came to realize I was giving ultimate power to others to determine how I felt about my artwork. From that day forward I decided I wouldn’t give that kind of power to anyone accept those who are a trusted friend, a mentor, or my husband.

I still haven’t gotten into that show but since that day I have gone on to earn signature membership in Watercolor West (WW), Northwest Watercolor Society (NWWS), write two books on watercolor, featured in Splash 11 & 12, contributor to numerous other books, Watercolor Artist, Watercolor Highlights and various other magazines. I teach internationally and abroad. To illustrate my point the two paintings you see were rejected from one show to go on and achieve even greater recognition.

So what’s my point? Don’t let anyone define how you feel about your work! Be proud, hold your head up and let your brush sing with all its might!

Happy Painting!
Brenda

23 comments:

  1. Brenda,
    I so love this blog post! I have been on a path to that same realization for a while now, but you articulated it so well! In my teaching and on my blog I am constantly trying to encourage new and older more advanced students alike to be less influenced by the negative because art is so subjective! This blog is so encouraging to me and to others I will forward this post to encourage others in their endeavors. Thank you!

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  2. Hi Brenda, Just read your blog abut rejection. It is difficult and I have been rejected many times. I also have served as a juror for corporate art shows and it is an eye opener. So many wonderful pieces of art are rejected. And so I continue to paint .. I paint for me. I have sold a few and have many admirers. I enter shows that are not judged.

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  3. Hi Brenda,

    Well said! Thanks for putting this out there. I too have had a painting casually dismissed in one venue, only to have it win first prize at another venue. I guess the best judge of my work's success is myself really. If it came off as planned, it's a success. If it didn't, then like you, I seek the advice of those I trust. I'm getting much better at letting rejection roll off my back. I've had lots of practice...

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  4. What a wonderful post, Brenda. I have heard similar stories from other artists, so I think it's very true. I'm glad you've received the recognition you so deserve. Your work is gorgeous.

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  5. A fantastic post, Brenda. You put into words the thoughts and feelings so many of us have had but sometimes don't even have the courage to talk about. I think our art is most authentic when we paint for ourselves...subjects that excite us painted in our own voice, not for judges or sales.

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  6. I had a feeling this topic was something that needed to be discussed.I am grateful and encouraged to know my words touched and uplifted others.

    Thank you!

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  7. You have said so much in few words . Thanks

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  8. Thanks Brenda - great post! I find it hard to enter a piece that was rejected into another show. How do you know it is good enough to keep trying?

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  9. Jacqueline, I have had numerous paintings rejected from one show to receive a top awards in another. How do you know when a painting is good enough...join a group of fellow artists and have a critique night, find another artist that you trust and ask there opinion. Your best friend isn't always the best person to ask as they are afraid of hurting your feelings. Trust you heart and be honest when you view your paintings against others.
    Happy Painting!

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  10. Perfect post, Brenda, and wise advice from your husband and for the wider audience, from you. Thank you...I do try to help people realize that we need to "compete," if you will, only against ourselves, measure ourselves that way, if we absolutely must do so.

    I've judged enough shows to know how subjective and rushed it is. It doesn't mean much one way or another, I'm afraid. (OK, serious judges may shoot me now.)

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  11. Kate, You are so wise and comfortable in who you are. Once again you offer words of wisdom.

    Thank you for your input and viewing my blog.

    Happy Sketching & Painting!

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  12. Brenda...your paintings and a book by you "keeping a water color sketch book" has inspired me a lot...and your blog "rejection to..."gave me a great confidence and a respect for my work...
    thanks.....
    niru

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  13. Niru,

    I am pleased to know my words have uplifted and encouraged you. The journey of creativity can feel like a road traveled alone at times. It is helpful if we hold each other up.

    Happy Painting!
    Brenda

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  14. I just posted links to your blog and to Judy Schroeder's in my new entry, I hope you don't mind. I adore your work and I am loving learning from you. As I said on my post, Thank You!

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  15. Thank you so much for this! I was reject from a show and haven't entered once since and I am embarrassed to say it was more than 3 years ago. Amazing how sensitive we are about our work.

    Thank you again. :)

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  16. This post is a gem. I am relatively new to entering shows and to teaching. I have been rejected, too, and tortured myself for a long time about it, but am "back," and hoping, less sensitive. You and those who have responded to your post have shared wisdom and support to many of us who could use it. I am so supportive and nurturing to students and artist friends, but beat myself up unmercifully.

    I bought your two books and have had several students buy them as well [those who journal especially]. I admire your work, and now, what a "real" person you are! Thanks again!

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  17. Dee, We are much too hard on ourselves. The world can be cruel enough...be kind to you!

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  18. I don't know that I can really add anything new to what others have said here, except just to say thank you. I need to practice more self-conviction!

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  19. Don't take it too hard. Just because 3 people judging doesn't like your work doesn't mean the whole world doesn't like your world.

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  20. Brenda, your story and insight about rejection is so profound! I've read your post numerous times, and have decided to print it out to keep in my "blue" file, a folder that contains uplifting comments about my art, as well as tips on coping with jurors' rejection, and that sort of thing. I go this file whenever I'm feeling blue about my art. I know that your words will serve to comfort me and help me to realign my thinking the next time I visit my blue file. Thank you!

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  21. Marilyn, Thank you for sharing. I am grateful my words uplifted you. Beng an artist is such a deeply personal experience. I think that is why the rejection cuts so deep. Don't let anyone steal your joy!
    Happy Painting!

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  22. Dear Brenda. Many years ago, I wanted to learn watercolor so I set out to purchase some books to help me. Keeping a Watercolor Sketchbook was one of the first books I bought. I loved the painting on the cover and that drew me in. I love your honesty about rejection. It hurts but I do agree that we can't let what others say take away our love of painting. There is a large art community where I live and honestly, most are snobs. Not all, mind you, but most. I have no time or patience with snobbery! So glad I found you! I judge your work, SPECTACULAR! Many thanks Dear!

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    Replies
    1. Christine, Thank you for your comments. Rejection is never easy...be cautious who you give power to. No longer do I give show judges the power to change how I feel about my work. You are wise to see this! And thank you for kind words of encouragement and praise. I hope we'll have a chance to meet someday. Happy Sketching!

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