Two of my paintings (above and below) were not accepted into a juried art show at a local art gallery today. Just like last year. Last year, I told myself it was only because of the canvases (the edges were too thin, I was told). This year, I have all sorts of reasons:

I’m not a real artist (whatever that means).

There are words on the paintings and the jury didn’t like words.


My work is too “pretty” (I have heard this statement before), too colourful, trying too hard, too much like somebody else’s work, too this, too that.

OK, I get it, I get it: I suck.

Before you go commenting to tell me this all isn’t true, I want to assure you that I know this. I know the voices in my head are lying to me. I know they are trying to keep me safe (in a weird way), that they aren’t working for me, etc. I get this. And the whole time I think these thoughts, I also have a witness inside of me, that is completely non-judgemental, and knows that none of it matters, none of it is true, none of it is real. I know.

I’m still crying my guts out.

Rejection is giving me ample opportunity to feel my emotions, to be in touch with what is going on for me, to see what is real, and what I am feeding with my energy. As much as I would rather be jumping for joy that I got into an art show, I am also grateful for the chance to feel so deeply. This rejection is stacking onto another rejection from over a week ago – a more personal one, but one that gave me a huge jab in my core; I hadn’t realized just how low my self-esteem was until that day. I’m still not over that one, and now this double dose of rejection has been difficult, to say the least.

You know how lots of self-help books and websites say, “You can’t love others until you love yourself”? I’ve been thinking about this, with reference to rejection. Is it true that I am actually rejecting myself, and that maybe I don’t love myself enough? At first I thought so, but then I realized I was just trapping myself in my old perfectionist ways again. What I was really saying was,

“I’m not loving myself enough. I am not good enough at loving myself”.

I have realized that in reality, I am very good at loving myself. I cry when I need to cry. I call my husband when I need to hear a loving voice during my shitty day. I ask for hugs. I take myself out dancing. I blog (sometimes.. haha!). I ask for what I want.

I also listen to music when I need to listen to music. During my rejection experience last week, I noticed I wasn’t really in touch with “sadness”, even though I felt sad-ish, and knew I would be sad later. I knew I needed a cry, it just wasn’t happening yet. Music to the rescue: I instinctively played Sigur Ros in the car, without really knowing why, and BOOM! A flood of tears, all day long. A few days later, that sadness turned into anger, and Nine Inch Nails has been helping me feel that and move through it.

You know what? I like my paintings, I really do. I have fun making them, I even like looking at them afterwards (except after a few months – I start to cringe if they hang around too long). I am grateful for all the people who like to look at my art online, whether on my blog or my Facebook page. I am especially grateful for those who send me supporting comments and feedback, and the people who purchase my paintings. As much as I do paint for myself, I don’t want to work in a vacuum, keeping it all locked away for nobody to see. I want people to see my work and to enjoy it.

But not everybody will, and that’s alright, too.


41 thoughts on “Rejected.

  1. Cheryl

    I like your paintings too Belinda!!! So sorry to hear you didn’t get into the show – ugh rejection sucks!! I feel for you, my heart goes out to you. I am so glad you create the work you do because it gives me such a lift when I need it (coincidentally needed it on this very crummy night!) your work is filled with beauty and truth. Stay you! Hugs from Cheryl

  2. Grace Mendez

    Ah, the life of an artist. There are many places to feel rejected.
    When I see your work in a magazine and a book it reminds me of the pangs that hit me hard when I get the dreaded rejection letters from publications.
    The letters go in a folder together with the juried art shows rejections. And IF I get in a show, then the rejection comes when the art doesn’t sell.
    Its so hard for me to pick up my work after a show.
    The alternative would be to play it safe and not do the work. I believe that would be harder still. It would be the greatest rejection of them all if I didn’t believe in my own work.
    So know that I am crying right there with you sister. It’s all right.

    1. belknits Post author

      Wow. You’re making me cry, now, Grace. Thank you so much for the support. Thank you for reminding me that I have many more things to be grateful about, and that everyone’s path is different. Mine may not include galleries, and that’s OK. Or maybe that will be in 20 years. Who knows. Anyway, I really loved your thoughts – I know that feeling of playing it safe by not doing the work – I was in that space for a long long time. xo

  3. nadine ortuno

    Hi, !!! I’m a french doodle girl!
    I love your painting, art must procure emotion and YOuR art procure me emotion. I would like to say
    more things but my english is limited!,,,, Xoxo

  4. Esther Budd

    Most of us do not experience the kind of success you have had in your art. We keep trying, we keep getting rejected. When a window of opportunity opens up, we crawl through to the light and experience the joy that ‘success’ and admiration from others brings. . . . and then we go back to our daily routine, plugging along and hoping for more of the same. Sometimes we get it, mostly we don’t.

    It’s rare to find success all the time. And of course, you know this. You have a loyal following of people who love your work and the joy it brings to their lives. (And I’m one of those people). Think about us when you are low. We are there for you. We support you. We love what you create.


  5. Donna

    Not sure I can add much to your evolving wisdom but I’m going to try…
    Putting yourself/your art out there is very brave and difficult to do. I admire your bravery and willingness to share the rejection of art, so openly and honestly. I find music helps me find my way too. I like your happy bright style, it makes me smile and that is worth a lot!!!

    Paint on Belinda and peace,

  6. Lori-Ann Claerhout (@borealmodern)

    I won’t talk about the lack of good tasted involved in passing you over, but rather how real it is to feel. To *really* feel, and then tell somebody about it. Thank you for feeling–for living through it–and then writing about what it’s like. And showing your resilience by carrying on.
    (Okay, now I’ll approach my own feelings of guilt in not commenting when things are good and I’m simply given joy by admiring your art.)

  7. Sherri

    Remember that it was not the universe that rejected your paintings but a few people. In the meantime your paintings are bringing joy, love, and hope to others. These few comments may have been made because these people are obviously looking for something else that your art does not fit, at this time. Do not hold back your gift from the world, that would be selfish and there are those of us out there who use art just as you do music to help us get through the good, bad and ugly times life holds. You have a gift and we appreciate you sharing it with us!

    1. belknits Post author

      What a beautiful message – thank you. Those comments were in my own head (that is the hardest part, listening to the voices in my head). I really appreciate what you said about people using my art the way I use music. I have never thought of it that way before, and I am very grateful to you for saying so!! Thank you. Bel xo

  8. Denice Barlow Brown (@inkstitch)

    Belinda beautiful… I am so glad you shared. I went through a series of show rejections this spring — while at the same time my husband was deciding whether or not to stay married because he found someone who creatively inspires him oh so much like he has always wanted. Hm. (I know that’s too much info for a comment, but oh well; now you know why I’ve had a hard time with gratitude posts. Thumper Clause. Ahem.)
    Still. I know all the ugly voices in my head are lying to me. I love that you shared the process of working through, of tuning in to your real truth, and of accepting but gently shushing the voices.

  9. Jamie Lees

    This has nothing to do with you work. Your work is excellent. It has to do with the show you entered. Just not the show for your work. It’s important to submit to the right show. 🙂 That’s it, that’s all.

  10. Sandy Derryberry

    I confess I’ve never heard of you..but your art attached to this blog stopped me in my tracks as it scrolled past in my feed. Girl, you ARE amazing…such life and vibrancy..colour, glorious colour!!! Keep on keeping on…the world needs to see your talent!!
    Hugs from a stranger …who will now be a fan!!

  11. Jennelise

    Hello! I am a new member of the Calgary Artists etsy team – I came from there. 🙂 It is lovely to visit your blog and catch a glimpse of your personality and passion. I have hesitated to share my artwork for a long time because I was afraid to expose such a personal side of myself. It is always hard to let other people see something that reflects who you are and how you feel. My art is VERY feminine – like children’s illustrations – and I have had a lot of comments from people over the years about how “girly” it is. I have had to learn to let it slide over me and remember that this is who I am and what I love. Sharing my artwork, photography, and thoughts online has helped so much! I found people who are just as “girly” as I am and who appreciate my style. Be true to who you are. I think your artwork is gorgeous! Art is personal and there is always going to be someone that just doesn’t see the world the way you do. Don’t let them diminish your pride in your work or your confidence in yourself. I know this is a long comment but I wanted to introduce myself and at least attempt to give you a lift 🙂 I hope we can chat on etsy in the future. Take care and keep trying!
    Warm wishes,

    1. belknits Post author

      Jennelise – thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment on my blog! I’m happy that you have been able to accept and appreciate your style – that’s awesome! I love my style, too – that’s one thing that I realized as I was being told the pieces weren’t accepted. It didn’t make any difference in how I feel about my work. I still love making it.
      Thanks again for your comment!

  12. Cheryl

    Hey girl! Just checking in to see how you’re doing today – hope you’re back in studio and making your beautiful paintings! 🙂

  13. jruss

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU for your honesty and vulnerability. Gosh, you put words to so many emotions that I keep tucked away. This exposure is painful and beautiful. Oh! And thank you for sharing your creativity. I recently started following you on instagram and I so enjoy your style — its so free, expressive and refreshing. I’m not an art judge, but I sure enjoy when your art pops up on my feed!

  14. Glycerine

    I do love your work. And I do thank you for sharing these thougths with us. If only I could think just a little bit like you…anyway.. thank you so much.

  15. Sharon

    You inspire me, with your thoughts and actions. You’re art is wonderful and it’s YOUR art. Your art will always be different from someone else’s art. The beauty of art is subjective. Everyone sees art in a different way. I think your art is unique, as it should be, because there is only one you. P.S. your taste in music is pretty awesome too. lol Thank you for sharing with us, even when it’s hard.

  16. Sherry Smyth

    This really spoke to me — both your art that was rejected (I dislike that word but there it is…) and your thoughts about this. Being judged. Being juried. In the end it comes down to what we believe about ourselves. What we like. Who we are. What makes us feel good. And the heck with everyone else. You can still call yourself an artist. You can call yourself whatever you want. I like that. And thank you so much for sharing your feelings and your thoughts about this. We never know when we do that who might “hear” and be encouraged or moved. xo

    1. belknits Post author

      Thank you, Sherry. I’m curious what it is about the word “rejected” that bothers you? I totally agree with your comment – you are right – it does come right back to ourselves, it really doesn’t matter what other people think. I’m glad the post spoke to you – that’s the reason I write those posts. Glad you stopped by!

      1. Sherry Smyth

        hmmm…I dislike the negative connotation that rejected carries…a reject, to be rejected, to reject someone or something. It’s dismissive and off hand and it leaves the lingering message of “not good enough”. I’m fine with critical appraisal and criticism when it is from a reliable and trustworthy source but someone else saying or “stamping” “rejected” is a harsh label. xo

  17. Nidhi

    Dropped by and loved what you have done with the painting. I am sure by now you are out of the rejection phase 🙂 but I did want to let you know. It’s beautiful what you do sweetheart only because it’s you. There can never be another you and so its possible not everyone may be completely in alignment with you and that’s fine. You have a specific purpose..and thats to be the best you, for yourself. These paintings are a part of that self discovery and they heal you. Beyond that, if they fetch you fame, money, appreciation etc. ..thats nice but not important :).
    Loads of love and hugs,


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