Introducing the Hall of Rejects!

rejects-1These paintings were rejected by Shawna years ago. Several date back to 2007, when Shawna decided to begin painting again, after a significant hiatus, during which time we moved across the country twice, bought a home, yada yada yada.


They’ve been in our basement collecting dust for years. A hopeless sentimentalist, I’ve rescued them from my wife’s destructive hands more than once. Slowly I’m discovering that she’s right to rid herself of them. Shawna is constantly pushing herself forward, embracing new challenges, and doesn’t wish to live in the past. Perhaps more importantly, these were rejected by the market.

I did dispose of several that weren’t even suited to the newly christened Hall of Rejects, and some of these only made it in because we have ample gallery space. Shawna’s skill with the paintbrush has improved mightily since these days, which is fun to see. Additionally, most of these works were influenced by different stages of our lives, such as the chairs with the red blanket over them that served as a frequent fort.

While of zero interest to the average consumer, they are meaningful to me. Below is a painting of Shawna’s very first studio in our drab basement (upper left). Later I commandeered this space for my home office as a telecommuter, and she carved out a spot in the dining room right next to the canary, which became a frequent subject.


Since most of these works are on wood panels, and never had proper hangers attached to them, I drove nails right through them—permanent damage. They are hanging in the stairway that leads to my writing space atop the stable outside. They are far more inspiring than the dirt and clutter that previously littered the space. I love how this one was placed at chair height—entirely by accident!


The painting below was inspired by a horrific camping trip. After enduring one of the longest nights of our lives, just half a notch better than puking all night, and included a bear roaming through the campground, our daughters hair getting snagged in the tent zipper right after she finally fell asleep four hours into the odyssey, millions of mosquitoes, and more fun, we decided to leave early after surviving just one night. Prior to leaving, however, we chose to enjoy the entire day that followed—right up until bedtime—having fun. We paddled into the Boundary Waters, ate supper in front of the fire, and I took the kids swimming down by the dock as the sun set while Shawna packed up the tent and whatnot. It was a fantastic day. We all learned that it’s ok to quit early sometimes—just cut bait—but that you can still suck the marrow out of everything that remains.


Many of these works have proven to be of insufficient interest to others, but if you find one you like, I could probably pry it off the wall for fifty bucks or so. You must come tour the Hall, though!

While these never found a home, they enabled Shawna to hone her skills. I see now that it would have been ok for her to paint over any of these, or even throw them away. They served their useful purpose, and were extremely valuable for the experience gained. She would not be the artist she is today without them.

This oddity here is a very early piece. I have no idea what it means.


What do you have in your basement gathering dust for no purpose? It’s time for those objects to sink or swim. Put ’em to good use now, or just get rid of them. Make more room for the things you cherish in life.


This evening we’ll be at the opening reception for the 61st Arrowhead Regional Biennial. It’s free of charge, and runs from 5 – 7 pm. Come say hello and see Shawna’s painting, Watering the Wallpaper, and numerous other selected works from area artists. The show is on display at the Duluth Art Institute, in the Depot, until February.

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