Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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06/29/2004: "Theme for new series"

Iíve stated before that I want to get away from my current style subject matter (colorful nudes surrounded by mountains and wildflowers) to try something new. Normally when Iím finished with a body of work, I feel deflated, anticlimactic, and most of all, exhausted. I just want to take a couple months off and regroup.

That isnít the case this time at all. I feel completely amped up. Iíve come up with some new themes I want to explore, and the first one is something Iíve been thinking about for quite awhile.

I live on Douglas Island, Alaska on what was once a large community built during the Gold Rush around an historic claim called the Treadwell Mine. Now there are trails that wind in and around the old settlement, ruins of buildings, foundations, lots of old mining equipment rusting away in the rainforest, everything overgrown with moss and lichenÖ

Itís a very mysterious and almost spooky place to wander. Iíve taken lots of photos out there and Iím going to make it the location for my next body of work. Iíd still like to incorporate figures into the paintings, but men and women and possibly children this time. Iím going to paint the figures faded, sepia toned, like old photographs. Iím going to have the men with mustaches and women with hair and clothing fashioned from that time period (around 1917 there was a terrible cave-in that forced the mine to close). Iím going to look off old photographs from the time period located in theĒ> Alaska Digital Archive not to copy but for inspiration.

Iím going to have these characters, sitting among the ruins, doing what they might have done nearly a hundred years ago. Mending laundry, playing a fiddle, rolling a cigarette, sneaking a kissÖeach painting will have anywhere from one to three people in it. Although the figures will be painted like faded ghosts, the images from the ruined buildings and mining equipment will be painted as is, in the bright colors of the rainforest.

I may experiment with doing the scenes in oil, and then adding the figures as a collage elementÖincorporate old cloth, lace, other slim objects, like building up a collographic plate in printmaking. That will be the fun experimental bit.

I can see how the images will look already in my head and I think they will be pretty interesting. I canít wait to get started on them. What do you think?

Replies: 4 Comments

on Wednesday, June 30th, holly said

The new stuff sounds fascinating. I love the 19th century genre pictures anyway, bit I really like what you're proposing. Do you know Edmund Tarbell's work? His women always seemed rathr ghostly to me.

on Wednesday, June 30th,">Elise said

Thanks for the links. Yes, they do have that feel to them don't they! I have a feeling that this project is going to be a lot of fun. When/if I ever get my computer up and running again I'll post some of the photos I've taken out there.

Now that I have something specific in mind, I'm planning to go back out there as many sunny days as we have left this summer, to take shots with my new images in mind.

I'd also like to do some more research on the area overall. I met a guy probably in his 80s hiking out there one day and he said he knows every square inch of the place, says he's drawn a map to all the good stuff. I'm going to try and track him down and see what else he know about it.

I can't wait to get started. I also want to see what used to stand where my house does today. Smudging aside, I'm hoping it wasn't an old burial ground or the morturary.

on Saturday, July 3rd, John said

As another idea, why not make big photographic prints and paint on top of those, as opposed to collaging on top of a painting? I'm thinking use your own photos for this.

on Saturday, July 3rd,">Elise said

hmmm interesting idea but I'm not sure how I'd pull that off. I'd have to print out the photos at a fairly large size which might be costly...also, I wonder how archival it would be? Still, it sounds cool, I should look into it. Thanks for the suggestion.