12 x 9 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
by Miki Willa
This morning, I was reading about an artist who recently had paintings that were not accepted into a juried show. After seeing her paintings, I really don't know why. It got me to thinking again about what juried shows mean and why they are or are not important to me. I have had pieces selected for shows, and rejected. In all cases, I would like to have known why.
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to the artist who rejected my favorite piece for a show. We didn't talk about that piece, but jurying shows in general. This artist said all shows are different based on who is sponsoring them. He eluded to the fact that occasionally, gentle pressure was applied to make sure certain people got pieces in, and even won prizes. This was not often the case, but did happen. He also said that sponsoring groups often give thematic directions, ie. "We don't want anything with flowers." After our talk, I had an entirely different outlook about juried shows.
Every juror has his/her own likes and dislikes, just like every artist and patron. Every juror has a comfort zone. I would have difficulty making decisions about abstracts because I don't know the genre well enough. Then, there is the fact that environments affect what we think and feel. I suppose that when a show is juried with digital images or slides, this has less of an impact than if the juror is in a crummy hotel and the breakfast was a horror.
Having said all this, I want to get back to my stated topic - The Art of Rejection. It is perfectly normal to feel defeated and sad when a piece you really like doesn't get accepted into a show. After all, you wouldn't have entered the piece if you didn't think it was good enough. The art comes in what you do after you get the news. I was part of a show committee one year and watched an artist become very unpleasant when her painting was not accepted. She was very loud and called the juror some very unkind names. Unfortunately, the juror was still in the room. My rejected piece was next to hers in the pick-up area. I think I handled it better. I went out and sold the piece a few weeks later. By that time, I was experienced in the art of rejection. I knew that my piece was one that someone would like because I really painted it for people like me who like old fashioned landscapes. This juror did not like that genre.
I think that is the real secret. Paint what you like. I have decided that I am not going to paint for a juror, a society, a group who says it must be done a certain way, or public praise. If I paint what I like, and use my best skills and techniques, then if I enter a show, and that painting is not accepted, I will still be sad, but I will have a good painting that I know will find a better home some day.
Today's painting is from our Oregon Coast trip. I took a series of photos by the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. I really like the romance of the lone tree. (And yes, I think barns are romantic, too.) I was trying for an Asian look with a feeling of mystery. My husband thinks I was successful with the mystery. This painting took me a couple of days of looking at it. For the tree, I did a complementary under painting in orange. The trunk started off purple, but doesn't look this purple in real life any more.