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Last week my work was rejected for the Oil Painters of America’s annual show.

I would like to say that the rejection doesn’t really matter much. Admittedly, it’s nice to be accepted by your peers, and the occasional pat on the back doesn’t hurt. When your success is built on your artistic expressions, it may help to have a leather hide.  Yet, barriers that don’t let anything in, can’t build the sensitivity to let much out either. So I try to keep my hide akin to a human version of the control top pantyhose my mother used to wear; seemingly indestructible, flexible, breathable, able to offer support in places that grow weary, and just a tad shiny. Though, strong as they may be, if you’re dancing in the woods, you’re bound catch a snag.

But I can’t stay out of the forest, so I planned a course to navigate through it.  It may be loose, but it’s a plan nonetheless. Work really hard, submit to big juried shows, gain entry, eventually place – and the rest will be history of course… I’ve managed to make a living finger painting; surely I can parlay that into this fine art gig. Some of what I see living under this title is less than ‘refined’, therefore I’ve determined that you don’t have to be Michelangelo to flourish. You have to be dedicated to the work and willing to market yourself like a branded cereal (or pay someone to do it for you).

It’s not all business.  Without art, I don’t function well as a pleasant human being.  But I can’t just paint for the sake of expression (yet). I need to paint well, and find approval, and be financially rewarded for my efforts.  Does that suck all of the purity from my work?? I hope not – cause like it or not, a girls gotta eat, and paint is not free until you’re successful enough to afford it. There are some limits to my prostitution.  I don’t paint cats.

I want to continue to grow and progress in my abilities as a painter and I’m working hard to do that. But the study, the trial, the error, and the constant desire to master add a certain tension to my work that doesn’t exist when I’m just spilling it out on the canvas.  Ideally, I’ll become so well versed with my medium and technique that the tension will dissolve and I’ll be left with a better flow, and perhaps…better work.  Or… perhaps the tension is not from the paint at all.  Perhaps it just shows up there…?

When I paint solely for the sake of expression, it feels divine, but it’s not always pretty and I doubt that you would find it in the portfolio of  ‘respectable’ shows.

I know there is a balance.  I hope I find it soon – or I will need a different plan, and a new set of panty hose.


7 Responses to Rejection

I know you’ve already heard the platitudes from Artists who have “MADE” it, “that show rejected my work, and the next show gave me first place” yeah, thanks, that makes me feel MUCH better… not…

I’ve been rejected twice now and it doesn’t make me want to try again. So what I do is back up and regroup. Try some new things (I’m working on composition) focus on some stuff I don’t normally focus on (right now, Pansies of all things) and hopefully I will eventually gain the courage to go back out on that limb again. Good luck.

Posted by mimi torchia boothby watercolors · via · 133 months ago

Helen Keller said, “LOOK THE WORLD STRAIGHT IN THE EYE,” which is exactly what you do, Kelly, and is exactly why you will eventually get to where you are working so hard to go. Only you will know when you’ve gotten there–I only know you are solidly into the journey.

Very glad you wrote again–I’ve missed reading your blog. It keeps me feeling inspired and connected.

Posted by Diane Pool · via · 133 months ago

Thanks ladies. I’ll go back out on the limb. I tend to live on the limb. But it was a triple wammie week. Rejected by the OPA, The Portrait Society of America, and Anderson Ranch – all in less than 5 days. I don’t have anything else out there to be rejected by at the moment!! I’ll be in the studio all week playing with paint – not trying to create anything…good or acceptable – just playing with paint. It should be lovely, actually.

Posted by kelly · via · 133 months ago

Mimi – You come, too! I finally took a few minutes to look at your page and I am delighted–wish I had as much stimulating thought put into my blog. I’d LOVE to have you visit, also!

Posted by Diane Pool · via · 133 months ago

Kelly, I just checked back to see if you’d updated and was startled to see that my reply to your last response hadn’t been published. You and Mimi must wonder what sort of nonsense I was talking about! 🙂

Well, the jist of it was a simple (heartfelt) reminder that you’d been “accepted for your visit to the Philippines”

I think I may have said something clever about life out on a limb…wish I could remember it now.

Posted by Diane Pool · via · 133 months ago

the Phillipines??! so close? (not!) 🙂

Posted by mimi torchia boothby watercolors · via · 133 months ago

Diane – I loved your post! It is a great reminder to think of the things I have been ‘accepted’ to, and that they perhaps hold far more value. I WILL make it there sooner or later.

Posted by kelly · via · 133 months ago


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