Rejection: A Warm Blanket

Converging Paths by MTMcClanahan

Instead of giving awards for achievements, they should be given out for attempts. Try, fail, try again–this is the recipe for success

“If you’re not being rejected you’re not trying hard enough.” Jeffrey Mayer

Goals are ever changing–reset with accomplishment. Goals are easy because they are abstract. The work’s the thing. And productive work is trial and error.

Hang your letters of rejection on your studio wall…”

“Forget about the exhibitions and the juries. Think less of the success of the by-product and you will have more success with it. Keep living. And that means keep on painting.” Robert Henri

Proudly join the ranks of famous men, made so because they carried on. Hang your letters of rejection on your studio wall where you can see them everyday. Rejection hurts. It will always hurt so long as you are a feeling artist.

But rejection soon becomes a warm blanket that proves to yourself that you are working and, therefore, progressing; not chasing the phantom of success who disguises itself with compliments and medals.


10 Famous Artists Who Had To Deal With Rejection
14 Rejection Letters To Famous Artists
4 Lessons I Learned From Being Rejected By A Publisher
A Roller Coaster Month Davies
The Robert Henri Museum

MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at

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5 Responses

  1. What an important subject this is! Wonderful content here!
    I used to tell myself, as a young mother weary of endless days of repeated corrections of my kids’ behavior…and wondering if there would ever be a “good day”… “Susan,” I would say to myself, “…of all the admonition days you are scheduled to spend raising these children, you have just gotten through one that you don’t have to do again.” I was thinking of it in terms of percentages. If reaching a goal is 100%, and your rate of failure is likely to be , say 50%, then half of the bad days may be at the beginning and the other good days at the end! Or not! But if you quit after ten or forty days, you will NEVER get to the good days. It’s hard to start off with a winner and then have a run of lots of failures afterward. You can get spoiled into laziness and bad attitude by early success, which will not keen up your skills at all.

    Especially liked your list of rejection letters to famous writers.

    • My daughter just wrote after reading this post, ” I remember you talking to me about this a year or so ago when I experienced a small failure and I’ll never forget what you told me about hanging your rejection letter up on the wall…or at least keeping it as a reminder. I love you!” That is satisfaction–makes all those days/years of head and heartache worth it. It usually feels like you intimate, like a thankless endeavor.

      Again your insight is much appreciated Susan–it is so true what you say about starting off on top of the world–it can make one lazy and rest on their proverbial laurels.

    • Also, I have one of those rejection letters myself, what I thought a major one at the time–actually made me ask myself “what are you going to do with your life now?” So what my daughter said about hanging it on the wall I actually did, and it hangs still today, motivating more than a hundred medals I think.

  2. Interesting article. You are so right. Recently I screwed up my courage and answered the call of my local gallery to submit work. I was rejected by return of email. After a day feeling sorry for my self, there followed a very productive couple of weeks. Having submitted work once it will be easier now, rejection? been there, done that, move on!
    I feel quite proud of my letter and intend to collect future rejection letters to spur me on.

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