Defeated by rejection – nope, not me!

Storm 1 (Jagged)

Storm 1 (Jagged)

It has been a while since I have written about Steven Pressfield and his book ‘The War of Art’ but this week I had reason to reread sections of the book. I got the news that the pieces I submitted to the SAQA calls ‘Tranquility’ and ‘Turmoil’ had been rejected. Nobody likes rejection but for many people it can be distracting or even paralysing. We all fear rejection. That fear is hard wired into us. But Pressfield says that a ‘Professional’ artist cannot take rejection personally. Instead she should self-validate and assess her work coldly and objectively. ”Where it fell short, she’ll improve it. Where it triumphed, she will make it better still. She’ll work harder. She’ll be back tomorrow.”

So in the time it took to drink a cup of good coffee (and eat some chocolate) I assessed the pieces (including Storm 1 Jagged) that had been rejected. Did I achieve visually what I wanted with each piece? Yes. Were they crafted to the best of my technical ability? Yes. Did I present them to the best of my ability? Well maybe not – they were hard to photograph so I need to work on this. Will I let rejection stop me from working on the Storm / Still series? Will I let rejection stop me submitting works from this series to other calls? Will I let it take anymore of my precious time in the studio? Nope. No way!

And with that I put on some loud music, sat down at my sewing machine and stitched for two solid hours!



6 responses to “Defeated by rejection – nope, not me!

  1. Good for you! Are you satisfied with it, did you enjoy making it? If so, mission accomplished.


  2. As an old pro over 30 years, rejection has become a way of life, but it’s never pleasant, doesn’t actually get that much easier, and is indeed rarely understandable or logical, in terms of what is either accepted or refused. This is probably one of the reasons I don’t bother these days with anything that has ‘selected’ in the title, or that you have to pay heavily for.
    I think your work is exceptional, I’ve noticed it and enjoyed it on Facebook, and added your blog to my ‘I Like’ list on my blog.
    Keep on making!


  3. Yeah, that work is good. Juried shows are a crap shoot when you boil it down. If Monet, Manet. Van Gogh, Renoir and Dali all submitted to a show chances are Dali would be ‘rejected’ because he would not fit in and form a cohesive work with the others! The problem is that you don’t know what the other work being submitted looks alike so you cant tailor your submission. When I write for a magazine I alter my style to fit the house style. If I submit to a publisher I choose the one which publishes the kind of stuff I am writing. and that works. But with a juried show you have no idea what the style of the show is going be – neither to be fair do the jurors, until they see their choices – so it is actually an impossible task to do anything to improve your chances other than, as you say, getting the work as good as you can. Its their loss.


  4. Sue Sheriff

    I have been mulling over your comments in the early hours so thought I should just try and write them down. Firstly I am sorry that your work did not get selected. I think that ‘rejected’ has a heavy emotional punch. Try ‘not accepted’, and also don’t lose sight of the fact that its the work not you as a person – although when you put such a lot into the pieces it is hard to separate the two. Selection juries have to make decisions and it will be interesting when you see the pieces that make up the exhibition whether you can identify any common factors. Some juries want a coherent exhibition, others want tension or other things and this influences their choice. Also there is just the sheer practicality of reducing the number of entries to whatever will fit in the space. Sometimes juries make glaring errors ( in my view) and the Fine Art category at last years FOQ was a case in point. A number of pieces that were selected could not in any way be called ‘Fine Art’ and the resulting exhibition was very unbalanced.
    You have done the right thing in starting with chocolate and then analysing how you feel about the decision. You have identified the need to improve the photography and if that is all the selectors have to go on then it has to be the very best. I have heard a number of people say that the photos let them down, especially on pieces that are not easy to photograph. That gives you a positive aspect to work on. Also you have recently had work accepted into other exhibitions. Dont let this ‘non acceptance’ cloud that. Also it gives you a chance to enter these pieces in other exhibitions. Leah, in many ways it is presumptious of me writing to you when I have never met you and I hope you get from my words that I want to be helpful and supportive and encouraging. I look forward to meeting you but in the meantime keep stitching – that is what moves your work forward. With kind regards and my very best wishes.
    P.s. If your chocolate stash needs replenishing please send your address.


    • Thank you Sue (and others!) for taking the time to share your thoughts. It is not presumptious of you – one of the reasons I blog is to start conversations that, I hope, will become friendships.
      I think that trying to second guess jurors is a sure fire route to unhappiness. They have a tough job. But, for me, submitting pieces is part of how I validate my work. Even if unsuccessful. Just so long as I know that I produced the best piece that I could. Spending money on entry fees, spending money on dyes or thread, spending time trying to secure venues for Etcetera exhibitions – it is all part of creating art and showing that art to the world. And, on balance, I am really happy with where my work is right now. I will find other opportunities to show these pieces. And I’ll keep on making!


  5. And have you looked at those pieces that have been selected? Do you see a likeness? Do you see a difference between those selected and your own style? I think I do – and I hope you don’t change what you are doing just because of that, you’ve already discovered that there are other opportunities.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s