So, as many of you know, my painting for the Archibald Prize 2017 was not selected as a Finalist. Many people have sent messages to me saying they are sorry to hear the news and how much they like my painting.
So how do I feel?
Maybe I should feel rejected, dejected, depressed, upset, disappointed and many other variations and versions of this, but I don't.
I won't lie and say I feel nothing. Of course I am disappointed. Who wouldn't be after 6 months of work and expense in producing and delivering the painting. However, I am not disappointed in myself. I am disappointed in the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW, who once again didn't have any watercolours in their final selection. I really think they need to change their 18th Century attitude towards watercolour and recognise it as the contemporary medium that it can be.
However, that aside, I am OK with it all because I would never use selection to the Archibald as a criteria to decide if my work is good or worthy. I decide that, and not the Trustees or judges for any exhibition.
The painting of Cathy McGowan was one of the most difficult paintings I have ever done because of the technical difficulties of painting on plastic with watercolour at that scale. It really presented a whole new set of problems I needed to solve.
In the end and after a lot of experimenting, failures and retries, I finally achieved what I was after and that is what I use as a measure of success. I achieved, under difficult circumstances, the result I was after. I had won the battle.
I am also well aware that every great artist has failed or been rejected ... many, many times. I am in good company.
On top of that, the night of 'The Reveal' was such a fantastic night. The support and encouragement and kind words from the 150+ people who ventured out into the cold on a gloomy winter's nights was very touching.
I think that this is one of the main reasons I haven't been negatively affected by the Archibald rejection.
I want to say a big thanks to everyone. Being an artist is a solitary thing (for me anyway), but when people come out to give me support, one does not feel quite as alone out in the sea of indifference.
To the 150+ people who were there on the night, the over 2,000 people who watched the live feed on facebook and the over 5,000 people who saw the post ... I thank you all.
Will I enter the Archibald again? Maybe ... maybe not. It will depend on how much I want it and how important I feel that challenge is in terms of my artistic journey and integrity. It is too early to tell.
The painting will be up for viewing in my gallery for a few months after it returns, but I am moving on to my next project. I am very excited by it and can't wait to get started. I will let you know about it in my newsletter or maybe a blog post soon. For now I need to get to work on it.
So, if you see me in the street or write to me, please don't feel you need to tread carefully around the topic of the Archibald. I am cool with it all and as I said, I have been painting for long enough to know whether my work is good or not - the bad ones never see the light of day :)
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
- Nelson Mandela
Although I have won my fair share of awards, I will finish with a quote by Charles Saatchi -
All anybody needs to know about prizes is that Mozart never won one.