“Rocks at the American Yacht Club,” 2013, by Carol L. Douglas. This is a good example of a bad photo, but it’s all I’ve got.
A friend of mine and I were contemplating a show that neither of us got into. We’re both old and experienced, but this one particularly bothered us.
If you haven’t experienced rejection, you probably aren’t pushing your boundaries enough. There’s always a level of event just above your current one. They’re worth aspiring to. Participating in them is, as my friend noted, like going to school with bigger kids. It smartens you up.
It helps to be reasonable about where you are in your professional development. If you’ve never painted in a plein air event, it’s unlikely you’ll get into a large national event.
Jurying is subjective, illogical, and unfathomable, so don’t pin your hopes on any one event. None of us knows what goes on behind the curtain. There are often structural constraints that aren’t spelled out, like picking a certain number of participants from the local region, or places already held by prior year prize-winners.
Even braced, you’re eventually going to get one of those letters that stings. Maybe the entrance fee was princely; maybe you really admire the juror; maybe you’re painting circles around some of the other people who got in. None of that matters. Keep your disappointment to yourself as much as it’s humanly possible to do.
It’s possible to use rejection as a teaching tool. For example, I’ve been rather sloppy about how I’ve photographed paintings this season, since the pictures are often an afterthought, done in the shadow of my car moments before handing the work in. This is a wake-up call for me to put more effort into them, since they’re the only record I retain.
Time has shown me that, if I didn’t get into a show, there was something else I was supposed to be doing instead. That turned out to be the case here. I was invited to paint at the American Yacht Club in Rye, NY on behalf of the Rye Arts Center on October 23. I love Rye, I love boats, and I’m looking forward to it.
But God doesn’t always drop another event into my calendar in an even swap. I figure that as long as I’m pushing myself to be a better artist, competing in the marketplace, and working hard, these things even out. And I always have fun in the process.