I’ll Happily Take The Rejection

Today I want to talk about juried quilt shows, specifically, being rejected. It wasn’t that long ago I got my rejections for Quiltcon, and to be honest, I always expect to fail there, every year. I think of it as a charitable donation to the MQG 😉 Then last week I found out I had got into the MQX show, the first time I’ve been juried into a show. Hurray!

Today though, I got two more rejections, this time for the Canadian Quilters’ Association’s national show, Quilt Canada. I’ll show you what I entered, the comments I got, and why I made the decision not to take those comments on board! Normally I take constructive advice from the judges’ feedback and work on it, this time I’m not doing that, for good reason.

Here’s the first one, Barley The Mouse.

And the comments:

Designing a background connected to the image would have added unity to the quilt. Realistic fabric selections and heavy quilting successfully add realism to the focal point.

Consider how a different choice in background fabric would have enhanced the overall composition in this piece giving the focal point the chance to dominate. More visible quilting with perhaps a variety of color shades and/or variegated thread would have added some density and more interest to the piece overall. Barley is well executed, and I am happy to see his ‘life dot’ to bring him alive!

More attention to how the background supports the main subject could have helped this quilt feel more unified. Use of colour is well executed and balance and harmony is evident. The piecing and the quilting of the mouse and corn supports the images well.

***

I’m going to address the big point after I share my second quilt because you’ll see a theme, however maybe I will try more visible quilting sometime, though with the style I usually go for I’m not sure it will look good. In this example though, the background may have had some more dimension added to it by a contrasting thread. Contrasting threads are scary though 😀

***

Next was Blue Jay.

The comments:

The composition would benefit from a pictorial background featuring something in the natural habitat rather than a piece of printed fabric. Detailed stitching adds depth and realism to the Blue Jay.

When planning a design, consideration to all components should be given early on in the process. In this piece, a choice of background that supports the focal point would have unified the composition overall. Definitely a different color fabric, and possibly a more pieced background would have produced a more realistic outcome. The quilting on the blue jay is well done adding texture and depth.

This quilt’s background fabric is competing for attention with the Jay. A more organic background print would quiet its demands and allowed the Jay to remain the focal point and restore harmony in the quilt. The Jay is well pieced and the quilting supports the image.

***

Notice on both of these quilts, the primary concern is with the background choice, and all three judges concur, so you would think that would make it a big deal to me, and stand out as a major problem. Now, whilst I very much disagree that a tone-on-tine blender competes with the bird in the centre, my biggest take away is more a criticism of style. My quilts are not supposed to be photo realistic, otherwise I’d make them in batiks, Grunge, etc. I wouldn’t have maps and text and little icons hidden in the design, and I’d probably raw edge my quilts too so I could have lots more detail in the shapes that make up the final composition.

But I don’t, and I don’t because that’s my personal style. My animals are supposed to live somewhere between reality and cartoon. It’s intentional. We all want to find our voice, a way of people identifying you as the maker of your art. I think people who have seen my quilts before would see these and recognise them as Kerry Foster creations, and the fabric choice is a big part of that, and one I am unapologetic for.

If I’ve chosen an unrelated blender for the background, that’s because I’ve actively chosen a more subtle fabric than a large scale print so that it’s not too distracting, but I’ve wanted to also pull in a more contemporary element. Solids are too flat, so it has to be something with a little interest: straight lines, some small shapes, maybe a polka dot. Often, the backgrounds on the photos I use aren’t always that pretty either, or I simply don’t want to build the focal point out, since you can’t bring fabrics out of focus like you can with paint or with camera apertures.The animals are laid on top and assessed before I make that final choice. And I have been known to rip stitches and replace a background entirely if it appears too fussy, or indeed, too fusty.

I have quilts where I piece the backgrounds, and I also have quilts where I don’t even have a background at all, but for me, the design speaks to me about what kind of background it wants to have, and these two it was a considered choice for it to be all about the subject. I wouldn’t change a thing about these quilts, and I’m consistent, given that three judges said the same thing about both quilts. That tells me that I have a personal style, and therefore I’ll happily take the rejection.

(Next year though I’ll maybe enter Potato Hank and see what happens!)

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