The “Art” of Dealing with Rejection

I have been debating for two weeks whether to write this article. After all, what artist wants to publicize the fact that their work was rejected for an art show? Since I am an artist who puts my work out in the public, I have to learn how to deal with disappointment. So, I decided to share my thoughts with the hope they may help someone else experiencing the same thing.

In the past, I have had the honor and joy of my work winning awards and being accepted into juried exhibits. But, I also know the struggle of being rejected from exhibits that you worked your tail off to get into. You try to prepare yourself for the possibility of a rejection, but somehow it still stings and is NO FUN!

I seem to have two reactions after receiving one of the infamous rejection letters. My first reaction is to be tempted to doubt that I have the needed artistic talent and therefore go into a mild depression and not pick up a brush for a week or two. The second reaction is that I am tempted to just quit entering shows and go into hiding in my studio and paint for myself. However, this year I did a little better than that. I went back into my studio the very next day to paint. What made the difference?

I needed to speak truth to myself. The world tells us that we (and our work) are only worth what others say they are worth. However, as a Christian I know I am accepted and loved already. I don’t need to paint because I am trying to earn acceptance. What I need to do is paint from that place of acceptance that is already mine.

Any talent that I have at all is a gift from God. There is a quote by Leo Buscaglia that says: “Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

As an artist, my ultimate goal should be to endeavor to paint what will bring attention to the beauty of what God has made. I Cor. 10:31 says: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  I need to do my best but also learn to find joy in the process.

There are two things I want to note about the two paintings that were rejected this year (both pictured in this post).

Sunflower Symphony
© Annie Glacken
11″ x 15″ $245

Bluebirds in the Dogwood
© Annie Glacken
Prints Available

First, I really enjoyed painting them and I love the way they turned out. That counts for a lot in my book. Second, I prayed for God’s Spirit to help me as I painted so they would bring glory to Him. I have had people say they sensed the Spirit of God in “Bluebirds in the Dogwood” even though there was no religious reference in this painting. Now isn’t there is a lesson in that for me about my ultimate goal?

I need to “pull myself up by my bootstraps” and do my best to create art for God’s glory and leave the results to Him.

As always, all images are copyrighted. Thanks!


12 Replies to “The “Art” of Dealing with Rejection”

  1. Thank you Annie for sharing this. Your post is a comfort and encouragement to all of us. I’m just a beginner and hobbyist, but your words speak truth in all aspects of our life. Blessings to you, and thank you again for being a blessing to others.

    • Laura, I am glad you found this post to be an encouragement. As a beginner, I hope you find abundant joy as you grow in your art journey. Thanks for the comment.

  2. The old saying “You can’t please everyone all the time” comes to mind. And sometimes an art work is “judged” with personal likes & dislikes as well as skills. We all need to worry less about what others think of us and follow our own path, while occasionally stepping out of our comfort zone to challenge our skills and be happy with what we have achieved with the skills we currently possess.

    • Linda, you are absolutely correct. Judging is a very subjective task and can be very difficult for a judge to cull work from a show. We need to enjoy what we do and at the same time, like you said, push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Thank you for being vulnerable enough and strong enough to share this experience, Annie. We all face rejection of one form or another, but we often feel alone while we’re going through it. I’m glad you were able to “speak truth” to yourself and continue to show up and do the work you enjoy in spite of your disappointment. You’re an inspiration!

    • Thank you Susan. Rejection does happen to all artists at some point. We can react one of two ways: either “throw in the brush” or as you said, “continue to show up and do the work you enjoy.” Thank you for the comment and encouragement.

  4. Thanks for this uplifting message. I finally got a painting into a show that I have tried to enter about 5 times in the past. Not only did I get in this year, but the painting sold! So just never give up. I never take rejection personally. I paint for me and the joy I get from painting. If someone else likes it – that’s great. if not, that’s fine too.

    • Congratulations Jeanne on both getting into that show and on your sale! Yes, we need to paint for the joy! Thanks for your comment!

  5. This is such a great blog post and an amazing reminder of where our true worth lies! I want to write down what you said here and hang it on the board above my desk… “The world tells us that we (and our work) are only worth what others say they are worth. However, as a Christian I know I am accepted and loved already. I don’t need to paint because I am trying to earn acceptance. What I need to do is paint from that place of acceptance that is already mine.”

    What a glorious truth this is! And by the way, I feel the same way when I look at those bluebirds in the Dogwood. Everything you paint is a celebration of this amazing creation that we have been invited to dwell in. Please don’t ever stop displaying your extraordinary gift to God!

    • Tonya you are always so encouraging to others! What a gift of encouragement you have! I am glad you liked the post and the Bluebirds! Thank you so much for commenting!

  6. I’ve been thinking about this post since you put it up. Such good ideas! I’ve really been putting myself out there this year and along with that comes aaaall kinds of feedback. I keep reminding myself that my job is to do the art and put it out there and not judge it, and not care whether others judge it. I succeed every time I just share. I typically enjoy hearing others’ ideas about what they see in my work and I remind myself often that their comments are a reflection of them, not me or my work.

    • Yes, you are correct Robin. Our job is to make the art the best we can. Judging art is very subjective. What one judge loves, another may dismiss. However, constructive criticism or feedback is always appreciated! Thanks for commenting.