The art of rejection and the rejection of art

Perhaps they are both the same? As an artist rejection can be a harsh thing. After all we use art to express ourselves! So when somebody rejects your work, they are in a sense rejecting your expression of how you see the world. It’s important to know (and most of us do) that your art is not going to appeal to everyone. Yet, as artists, we put OURSELVES OUT THERE, time and time again. Knowing that some people will snicker, or even tell you to your face that they don’t like it.


This past week, a couple of guys posted this on my Facebook wall: “that’s not art, that’s shameful”.

They were referring to my UNpresidentED flag painting that I posted asking folks to vote for it. I came up with the idea to paint this when my talented friend sent me the prospectus for the juried “Neuw Politic” show. Of course those guys that posted that were on the opposite end of the political spectrum. And that’s okay, we’re all entitled to our perspectives. The whole idea of the piece was to mirror WHO is in office now. So I guess that a president talking about trying to fuck a married person, or by being a “star you can grab ’em by the pussy”, or that racism, “beat em up, I’ll pay your lawyer’s fee” is fine with them… To each their own, but I was not brought up that way.


the new administrations flag
UNpresidentED 36 x 48 on gallery wrapped stretched canvas by Deb Breton


The point is we create because we love to

And we get lost in our emotions. We make those emotions come to life on canvas, paper, wood, metal, glass, whatever the medium. When creating, the emotions pass through us and into the world where someone else resonates with them and enjoys them. And even if we never sold a single thing, we would STILL create. Why? Because that is why we’re here and it’s what we are inspired to do. As the late Wayne Dyer would say “when you’re inspired, your “in-spirit”. I love that, because for me, that’s profoundly true.


rejection art lines
Stay in the lines


Right brain party

When I create, time flies, I forget to eat, telephones ring and i never hear them until i look at my phone and see 3 messages. How many times do you forget to eat because you lost track of time? The list goes on… There are infinite ways to be creative, but the point is whatever you are doing, you do it out of pure joy. The world and all its ‘maya‘ fades and for the time spent in front of the easel I am wholly alive. Free from the bondage of time, or the real world. Sometimes it’s hard to let yourself get into your right brain when the world is constantly bombarding you. Just like it can be difficult to paint abstract when you’ve been told to “stay in the lines”. And as an abstract artist, the lines are not always your friends… so much to UN-LEARN…


Why is art marginalized?

We are pretty much told from a young age that you’ll be a starving artist. There’s no money in art, get a real job. Society in western culture, sure does dismiss the artist and it starts at a very young age. Heck even now the government has slashed funding for the arts. Where would we be without art though? Look at all the logos and icons all around us, they are born of an artists’ vision. For enjoyment we read, watch plays, listen to music, go to art museums.  All these fun and enjoyable things enrich life and they’re there because of artists. As Winston Churchill once said “The arts are essen­tial to any com­plete national life. The State owes it to itself to sus­tain and encour­age them… Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the rev­er­ence and delight which are their due.”




The rejection of art

And so finally I come to the point of what started this entire post in the first place. You see, last night they released the jury results for the Nuew Politic show and my art was rejected. When I first read it, I was a sad and felt dejected. In my mind, I went through all the reasons it was not good enough, and how it could have been better. But then I said ‘hey, I’m one step closer to a win!” Besides, lots of people resonated with the flag and I’ve been contacted to do another, plus I’ve already sold prints of it. And you know what else? I would do it all over again, just for the cathartic feeling of getting it out of me….


You are brave..

My friend Elieen told me this week – “you are brave” and I didn’t really know how to respond, so I didn’t. But after thinking about it at length, perhaps as artists, we are all brave?


Don’t let rejection get in the way of making art


Some people will like it

Some people won’t

So what?



Lots of love from me and my totally messy studio!



P.S. BE KIND, smile, laugh and love often!!!!

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Hi Deb, That sure is a very controversial painting, but I wouldn’t worry about being rejected. You can’t win them all. How you feel is the most important. People will either love your work or hate it. I like that you paint in many different ways and of a lot of different things. Now I won’t say that I like this painting, but I do get it, even without the explanation behind it. Just keep trying, that’s all we can do. 🙂

  2. Remember, Deb, at the end of the day there is no such thing as good or bad art and certainly no unit of measure which can disseminate between two works. Despite what many people will say they either like it or they don’t and if they don’t you’re out. Personally I much prefer criticism to an anodyne, I like it, as it generally makes you look at your work again. It helps if someone gives a reason why they don’t like it, but you don’t get that from juries and if you get it from an individual you might not agree, but always consider the comment.
    I can see why your painting was rejected and if you were Jasper Johns it would get through as it would be part of a body of work that the jury would understand. You have presented one piece and to them it has come from nowhere, so they are looking at it’s impact. As you are working in an abstract medium it can be very hard to end up with a piece which speaks eloquently, whereas I work in a more pictorial way and it is much easier to copy an image than invent it. Keep on keeping on.

    1. Graham your thoughtful opinion is much appreciated and it makes sense. Love painting and I always keep on keeping on! thanks again!

  3. Thanks for the encouragement Arlene! It was almost ‘necessary’ to paint this, just to get it out of my system. I’m onto sketching new ideas! Besides, this just tells me I’m one step closer to a win. But damn, it does take the wind out of your sails for a minute! Cheers~

  4. Dear Deb, I also know what you mean when you are saying that the creative process is pure joy. And in the end we create because we feel something deep inside and this is our message that we want to share with the world. How the world will receive that message is a totally different story and it’s out of our control. So yes, we are brave to share our hearts in the open. And we will find a lot of people that we will resonate with us. And this is a great gift that life offers to us for taking risks and speaking our heart. I encourage you to always look at the half full part of the glass. This is a choice, but I think it’s a choice that will make you stronger and even more willing to share your heartfelt message with the world (at least that part of the world that loves it and truly resonates with it). I think your paintings are amazingly beautiful and I am happy that you are sharing your art with us!

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