One of my pieces was rejected this week from a regional SAQA exhibit. The Juror was Yvonne Porcella! I hold Yvonne in the highest esteem. I have met her a few times and found her to be gracious and delightful person as well as an amazing artist. I would have loved to have been juried in by Yvonne.
But my piece did not make the cut. Okay, it does not feel good to have a piece rejected. Was I surprised? Not really. I had the idea for this piece in my mind for quite some time but I made the piece pretty quickly and photographed it at the last moment. I’m not sure it would have juried in anyway, because it was “not my best work”.
Before I write about my feelings about all of this, let’s look at the piece-Backstory:
I used Linda Waddle’s beautiful hand dyed wool for the base and a sheer silk organza for the backing. I used a blue wash out pen to mark the lines for the vines and perimeters of the borders, then free handed the rest. I don’t like the title but that’s what I came up with on the fly. Does anyone have a better title?
I do love this technique of layering the fabrics, free motion quilting my design, then cutting away the negative space to reveal the sheer backing. Oh I love sheers and I love cutwork on sheers!
I am attracted to this kind of Jacobean motif-it’s elegant and nature inspired. I do like this piece and it looks glorious when it hangs free so that the back can be appreciated and the transparency is highlighted. My photography skills cannot even begin to show this well but you get the idea.
I like to use high value contrast threads on the back of this type of work to create another color story. I used Superior Thread’s Fantastico-a 40-weight trilobal polyester.
So here’s the deal. I like the piece-a lot. Yet it is not my best work.
I have a lot of opinions about that phrase: “Not my best work”. That phrase can be used as an excuse, meaning, I am very disappointed that I didn’t jury in so I will excuse the failure by saying “It’s not my best work”. Then I have a way out.
In this case, I really did not think that it was my best work. Conversely, I’ve had work that did really well in show that I did not think was great work:
Like this piece-I had a fabric bleed right before I had to ship it in and I almost didn’t send it in. And, I did not think it was that strong of a piece. Yet Mom’s Lily Bed won Runner Up, Best of Show at PIQF. Go figure. Maybe I’m not a good judge of “my best work”. (The color is way off in this photo-it’s much prettier in real life.)
This kind of thing makes me return to my favorite book on making art, the little book “Art and Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It gets right into your self-sabotaging, self-doubting mind, whisks away all the drama and leaves you with a clear view of the process of making art. One of the core principles I learned from the book is:
“The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars….even the failed pieces are essential”
Wow, doesn’t that turn you on your head? If that is true, then “failed” pieces or not-my-best-work pieces are necessary! That takes all the angst out of it for me. Okay, so it’s not my best, maybe it’s actually awful. So what? That was a necessary piece to lead me to that one glorious piece. Once I know that, I can go forth in confidence.
Another key principle around artistic “failure” is that my work did not jury in. Fortunately I am clear that my work is separate from me. My work may have “failed”, but I did not. It doesn’t feel good to be rejected, but it was my work that was rejected, not me!
I got over the rejection in about a day. Now I’m working on a piece for an international SAQA exhibit, not a regional one. That bar is really high. I hope I jury in. Onward.
I’ll be linking up with Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday-there are always great links there.