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Monday, January 14, 2013

Robert Wade`s Article for IAM

Have you missed out on gaining selection for that big show which you so desperately wanted to make? If you have, then welcome to the club, you are certainly not Robinson Crusoe !!! Personally, I have probably been REJECTED from more major shows than any artist I know! Nobody, but nobody, wants to receive that dreadful REJECTED slip in the mail, rather like a parking ticket on your car, to feel that you have just been kicked right in the teeth, and that the "masterpiece" which you have sweated over, fretted and worried about, and then finally considered to be good enough to submit, has been passed over by the Jurors.

 Robert Wade

What a great blow to your pride, what a feeling of resentment, what a bitter pill to swallow this can be! Do I like being knocked back? No way...who would? However, there are quite a few guide lines in jurying a show, and it is just as well to consider some before blowing your top. The judge, or panel of Jurors, will have a number of requirements in making their choice of paintings, not the least of which will be to present a well balanced exhibition from the work submitted. Now, if you happen to have painted a large vase of daisies, and so have ten others, then someone must miss out and bad luck if you are one of them! We never get to know why we didn't make it, so we are left to wonder why.
Let me tell you about some of my unjust, unfair, totally biased, politically influenced, ignorant, spiteful, malevolent rejections !!!!! At least these are the sort of thoughts which spring quickly to mind. 
However, having been in the role of Judge so many times myself, I know that this is not the case. The one thing the Judge is trying so hard to do is to be fair and honest. All paintings must be selected in an anonymous way, with total disregard for the name of the artist. This is not all that easy, as, like one's handwriting, the artist's style is so personal that the signature is almost unnecessary, but it must be absolutely ignored when making decisions. As it is usually a panel making the selection of works in all of the major exhibitions, it means that a majority decision is necessary, so that if two Jurors really love your work, but three are only so-so, then sorry old chum, you have had the gong.

Robert Wade. Morning on Charles Bridge, Prague. 14x 20" 1996 |rejected

The American Watercolor Society's Annual Exhibition in New York, is perhaps the most prestigious in the world, certainly one of the most difficult to achieve selection, so everyone wants to be hung in an AWS show. Submission is by 35mm. slide, one only per artist, and usually there are 2000-2500 applications, and, from these, the Jurors have the monumental task of choosing about 100 works for the show! This means that about one in twenty gets in, and that sure is tough competition. I have submitted annually since 1981, have been successful just three times, 1981, 1993, and 2000………..that's a long time between drinks! 
The National Watercolor Society (NWS) is based on the West Coast, and is only slightly less important than the AWS, the number of slide submissions and selections being fairly similar. I've submitted twice, twice rejected. One year the three Jurors were way out modern and off-beat, so there is yet another factor. What are the artistic persuasions of the Jurors? .
Shouldn't make any difference, but it must be hard to make balanced decisions without at least one Juror from the traditional side of art.

Robert Wade. Atrium,Boston. 19x 29" 1995 | rejected

The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, London, works on a different system, and the only submissions possible are actual framed works. It makes for a very expensive freight bill from Australia, especially as each artist may submit up to six framed pieces. When your freight to London is adding up to some hundreds of dollars, then rejection hurts even more, right in the hip pocket! I submitted to the RI annually for ten years, and each year some were accepted, but one year not a single one got into the show.
Well, do I feel embarrassed to disclose my rejections to you? Not at all! Every painting which I have submitted to each of these distinguished Societies has been my best possible work at the time, and if that were not good enough then I must try harder. Remember this...Constant acceptance breeds complacency and mediocrity, rejection breeds determination and ultimate success. Don't harbour grudges against the Judges, determine to paint something better to submit next year. Just paint better, don’t get bitter! So, if at first you don't succeed, then you can count yourself as pretty normal!

Robert Wade. Harbour Reflections, Gloucester Mass. 19x 29" 1983 | rejected

Rejection helps to keep us humble, (and so does watercolour) and it's extremely good for the soul. Talking about that, I was recently Guest of Honour of one of Melbourne's larger Art Societies. After the official proceedings were through, we all gathered for a cup of coffee and cake. One of the Society's longest serving members came over to me and said "They seemed to be making a bit of a fuss over you, but I didn't catch your name."
"Wade," I replied, "Robert Wade." "Oh," he said, "What do you do for a crust in the art game?" Like I said, humility is good for you.

Good, Better, Best.. never let it rest, till your good is BETTER and your Better’s BEST!


  1. What a lovely and educative post! Thank you so much.

  2. I enjoyed reading this article, wise words thank you

  3. hi konstantin, thanks for posting this. worthy for every artist. whether they for competition or not.

  4. Thanks for the post. It helps with the pain.