Decisions, Decisions – which would you choose?

oil painting of Tinteán by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Well I got a painting accepted for the RHA annual exhibition this week but yes, I was talking last week about “the huddled masses” queuing up in the rain with their paintings, and I wondered where the term “huddled masses” came from. You probably know this but actually it comes from a poem by the American poet Emma Lazarus, a poem that was written as a donation to an art auction to fundraise for the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty, no less.

Give me your tired, your poor,

your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss’d to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!


So, to continue with the metaphor, this weekend the wretched refuse of artists will be back again at the RHA to pick up their rejected artworks. We all have to queue up to hand in our crumpled dockets and wait to be called to take away our unfortunate paintings, hastily covered up with secondhand bubblewrap to hide our wretched shame… Oh but, nach raibh an cruatan i gcónaí i ndán dos na Gaeil…

Now, here’s a question for you! The thing is – I don’t know at the moment, which one got in and which one was rejected. You can see them here, which one would you pick? And why? Your comments are always welcome – click on the brown speech bubble and put your comment there.  Thanks, eoin

oil painting of empty fireplace by Eoin Mac Lochlainn




  1. What an unfair question! Both are brilliant, but if it were myself, I’d choose the latter. Loved it the first time I saw it. Whichever was chosen is a winner.


  2. Top one

    Reasons – prefer colour; like graffiti; like growth from ashes
    Second one gives impression of a room vacated and forgotten whereas first has wilful destruction in ripping out of fire place; graffiti and (assumed) removal of roof leadwork causing water ingress to stain wall and sustain growth


  3. Hard to choose, Eoin. Instinctively I went for the more colourful one on top. But the bottom one might convey more information about the home being abandoned and perhaps something about who might be making use of the fireplace now.

    Juried shows rarely say much about the quality of art when it comes to choosing between good paintings. It will reflect more about the jury’s own prejudices and preferences as well as what they are looking for in an overall statement for the show.

    When you go and collect the rejected painting, give it an extra pat and say, ‘Well done, I love you anyway’. 🙂


  4. They are both equally good paintings Eoin. I find the brighter colours in the first painting draw me in more, so that is why I would choose it now. But it is a subjective thing. Alot depends on ones mood and also seeing the originals rather than a screen version. Congratulations anyway on being chosen! That is the main thing!


  5. They are both equally good paintings Eoin. The first one at the moment draws me in a bit more. I like the orange background and the plant. But alot depends what mood you are in and seeing the originals rather than a screen. Either way Congratulations on being accepted by RHA. That is the main thing and I’m sure a great buzz.


  6. Congratulations Eoin. First I was drawn to the top one with the color of fire and the command to be gone and the sadness of the fallen surround. But then on reflections I like the second one better . With the wreath and the empty picture frame I think there is some more story about the family who left and that maybe just maybe someone else will settle in. I am all for hope as you know .
    wonderful work Charlotte


    • Thanks very much Charlotte, yes even though the colours are brighter in the top one, I thought the reality was just a bit too depressing. The second one holds memories of Christmases past and such… Anyway, I can’t decide myself which I prefer 🙂


  7. An chéad ceann oiriúnach don am seo den bhliain 2016 – scáth 1916 – fuil dearg íobairte ar an bhfalla agus planda glas…aiséirí na Cásca. Phoenix rising from the ashes. Ní h-ionann an saol nua aiséirithe ar ndóigh. Na dathanna geala sin a mheallfadh mise, ach ní fheadar an bhfuil scéal spéisiúil eicint ag an bhfráma folamh sa dara ceann… tá cuma níos brónaí ar an gceann sin. Go leor le feiceáil iontu araon. Comhghairdeas!


  8. the first one, for certain sure, the oranges and greens are so much more hopeful than the almost funereal shades in the second !
    comhghairdeas, well done and well deserved for getting the place in the exhibition , slán Maev


      • Congratulations on being chosen to begin with. They are both beautiful. I would choose the second one. I love the colours and the mirror still above the heart. Its the beginning of a story that could take you in any direction. Or its the end of a story.
        The rejected one will still be loved.


  9. I like them both — a lot, but would have chosen the second one.
    My first impression has to do with colour; the play of light and thereby the variation of colour is more subtle and complex in painting 2.
    My second impression has to do with emotions: I like the shadows, I like the idea of something hidden – it underlines the fact the history will never be full recovered, or regained — never fully known.

    Anyway: Congratulation!


  10. Hey Eoin, I would have said the first one mainly because it is a new home for nature as you can see by the plant which has had the good fortune of landing right in front of the hearth of the house, sometimes nature just takes stuff back when it’s not being used, this is the one that was chosen? cool. It can be hard as an artist to say which work is “better” as so much feeling and effort to complete any painting, both pieces are of a very high standard, and of individual value or worth artistically, it’s like trying to say which friend you like best, or who your favorite sibling is. Paintings are friends, having spent so much time nurturing them, to make such decisions is difficult, but that has been decided for you now, congrats. The “rejected” works from the RHA are actually called “Unselected” works, I thought about the numbers and the space that may be available to non RHA members and associates and there wouldn’t be much space left for open submission applicants like yourself or myself or others in a similar position. When I went to rescue my work from the RHA having been “Unselected” I was happy, polite, friendly and observant of the general milieu. I’m not sure that the opinion of an artist(s) is really valid in terms of assessing artworks merits, but the RHA have the space to put on a large show and like every organisation they have their own agenda, whether that is classical or neo-classical, or classical modernism, contemporary etc. depends on the specific panel of selectors. I figure I’m in good company along with many other “Unselected” artworks by “Unselected” artists, I will go and look at the show and may post a comment at a later stage, in conclusion, nice one – I’m glad you got accepted and much success in the future, the works look much better in the real world than on screen, (little bits of news paper collaged under the paint, if I’m not mistaken gave a depth) and a strangely homey feel to the pieces, like the old newspaper under a cushion when I would visit my grandparents years ago. have fun, (Séamus).


    • Hello Séamus, thanks for your long and thoughtful comment. Yes, those open-submission shows are tricky. I reckon that there’s always politics involved and, as you say, they have their own agendas… It is difficult not to be affected though – but really, we shouldn’t take it personally or let them get to us. Keep on painting a chara! all the best, eoin


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