Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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07/03/2004: "My best opening reception of all time!"

Last night was so much fun! I think it must have been the Friendly Planet itself. The people there are so cool and laid back, the live music was a mix of Celtic and bluegrass and sounded excellent, and the overall atmosphere was casual/festive. I felt so relaxed, which has never been the case at an opening before. Normally I'm terrified. I'm proud to say I didn't hide out in the restrooms even once. I particularly want to say thanks to everyone of you bloggers who have helped me out at various stages along the way. From giving useful feedback on my works in progress, to helping me write the artist statement, to tips on getting a mailing list and whether to charge for the frame seperately etc. You all helped me out so very very much and I can't say enough how much your support has meant to me! Thank you thank you thank you!

Back to the opening: I tried to follow everyone's advice all as well that of my various books on making a living as an artist. I had a single glass of wine but didn't get drunk. I decided to paint the flower on my cheek so people would recognize me as the artist, and I think it worked because people were coming up to me all night. The amazing thing is that I didn't mind, in fact I felt happy and wanted to talk about the paintings with people. I even went up to some people and introduced myself!!! As much as I wanted to just hang out with my friends, I was careful to chat with them a bit but then circulate and find people I didn't know. The number of people who showed up that I didnít know surprised me. Hell, I was surprised by the number of people who showed up period. They said it was a record turn out for their gallery. They went through 6 or 7 jumbo bottles of Yellow Tail (white wine) and ended up bringing out the Alaskan Amber towards the end. The woman pouring the wine was so much fun and so encouraging, she even bought one of my paintings!

The snack table was decimated. I purchased a whole bunch of food from Costco and it was all gone...The loft gallery is an "intimate" space which was nice actually, because it felt crowed the entire night (4:30-7:30)...the crowds just kept coming and coming and all the people seemed to genuinely really like the work. I had several people I knew show up who didn't know I'm also an artist, and they just kept acting stunned and saying how surprised they were that they didn't know this about me. It felt amazing. I know I'm going on and on here, but I have to say that opening receptions have always been a thing of dread for me. So, I am quite frankly shocked at what a great time I had last night.

I got so much positive reinforcement that it made all those months of slaving away and turning down social opportunities worth it. Two different friends brought me bouquets of flowers, one brought the Arts and Entertainments section of the newspaper and opened it up to my article and put it on the table with my business cards and Artist Statement. That's another thing, I had made stacks of those business cards I showed you awhile back, with the images from the show on them, and every one of them got taken during the opening (over 200!). I met the editor for the Arts and Entertainment section. He's just a young guy, originally from California but actually moved here from Bellingham Washington I think. Seemed like a great guy, it was really nice that he came and that he stayed to hang out as long as he did.

That artist Mark Vinsel from he Juneau Artists Gallery also showed well as many other local artists that introduced themselves, which was very cool. I just felt like I made so many great contacts last night, and feel really inspired to keep working on my new body of work. I sold 4 paintings, three of the most expensive ones sold and a small one. I could have sold the Lupine Slumber and the Fire and Ice painting 15 times over. People really loved those two and kept asking if I sell prints or cards. I had intended to do that for this show but ran out of time. I think my computer dying when it did was terrible timing, but still, I know that I could possibly sell prints and glicilee editions as well as the originals. I also sold the Fiddlehead Forest (sorry Kira) and the Blue Nude Eagle Beach painting. Someone I know is really interested in buy Under the Devil's Club, they just didn't have any money on them and they were still trying to decide but that's another possible sell. Plus the show will be up all month.

After the opening, some friends and I went to a liquor store to buy some more wine and then went back to Thomas's house (another artist) to drink and hang out. Thomas is an Ed professor out at the university but he's also an artist (he has an MFA) and we had a nice talk the morning of the opening about why he was making art anymore and he said that the conversation coupled by my successful opening, inspired him to start painting again. In fact, he's commissioned me to build him some trapezoidal shaped canvases. Another person I met at his house is a student who lives on a sailboat that I used to race against when it was with its previous owners. He was interested in commissioning me to do a painting of him and his boat, but I think it was probably just drunk talk.

They were going to go find another friend Tarik from Morocco who was going to be moving away today. They were all going to continue partying at a (redneck) bar in the Valley and I just wanted to come home. I had socialized more in one night than in the past year so I had quite exceeded my limit. Still, I must say that last night will go down in my book as the best opening night ever!

Replies: 8 Comments

on Saturday, July 3rd,">karen said

You don't know me but i've been following your blog for a few months.....I just want to say Mazel Tov on such a great opening aand sharing it w/ readers...its inspiring!

on Saturday, July 3rd, Howard said

Wow, sounds like you couldn't of asked for a better openning. Hope you have pictures!

on Saturday, July 3rd,">Jackie said

E: Congratulations! I guess all that pre-show angst was a way of getting the bad ju-ju out of your life - and I'm really glad that your opening went so perfectly! It's great you sold 4 paintings - that is such a great feeling! I love openings - though I always felt sick to stomach before I had a glass of wine and got my buzz on. Good luck on your next venture!

on Saturday, July 3rd,">Elise said

Thanks for saying hi Karen, are you a fellow artist? Do you have any work online we could see?

And thanks again to everyone for being such a great support to me. It was a wonderful night and makes me want to work twice as hard as before.

The walls of my studio are bare but I just got a big shipment of canvases in so I'm just hanging the blank ones on the walls where the paintings used to be.

And so it begins all over again! Isn't making art the best high ever?

on Saturday, July 3rd,">Stacy said

Congratulation, Elise! Hope we can get together sometime and talk in person more!! Joy will be here for another week, but after that we should plan on something... Let me know when you have time.

on Saturday, July 3rd,">Elise said

Hi Stacy, do get hold of me after Joy takes off. Thanks again for coming to the opening. I had such a blast! I'm sorry that you got sick on your opening night and had to miss it, and I'm sorry that I had missed your opening as well but I was out of town at that conference. Thanks for giving me the private viewing though, I was very impressed.

on Sunday, July 4th, Joan said

Elise, sounds like you had a wonderful night. Congratulations to you and a pat on the back for all your hard work/passion! I saw Ann-Marie and Megan in O'Neill today. We had a run down of classmates as we hadn't been together in at least 10 years. Meg was so impressed with you and your life. We gave her your web address so I'm sure she'll be checking up as well.

Comparing your pre-show anxiety and post-show success, I think you just experienced a great lesson of life...we have to go after our dreams, even if they scare the living day lights out of us sometimes! You GROW GIRL!

And by the way, you know about the "experience something new this year" conversation...and I had started on sheep. Well, now I'm on to my biggest and most wonderful experience ever. Steve and I are looking forward to a baby coming in January! Kind of makes the sheep look, well, sheepish.

Congratulations again.

on Sunday, July 4th,">Elise said

Wow Joan, congratulations to you!!! That is huge news, I'm very very happy for you. You'll have to keep me posted on all the gory details.

Also, I think it's wonderful that you saw Megan, I haven't seen her in so many years, I'd like to hear all of the adventures I'm sure she's been up to.

I hear from Annie now and again, just recently actually. Things seem to be going really well for her also.

I guess for a group of girls from O'Neill Nebraska we've done pretty good, eh?