Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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Home » Archives » July 2004 » Still not painting / Is PhotoShop becoming a crutch?"

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07/19/2004: "Still not painting / Is PhotoShop becoming a crutch?""

I'm home today, using my vacation leave to take a lot of four-day weekends, which are my favorite. I got a lot done, bills paid, did laundry, I *finally* cleaned up the house and got my studio reorganized. Everything is clean and shiny now, I even cleaned out the bedroom where my treadmill is and got it ready for use again. Haven't needed it yet though, as the weather remains gorgeous and I've been taking lots of long walks and going for hikes at Treadwell.

Speaking of which, I got a gallery started for a tiny portion of the Treadwell photographs I took last week. They don't look that great yet, as I haven't had a chance to link them all to their larger sized versions yet and the thumbnails don't do them justice. What I really want to be concentrating on are the paintings.

The thing that is really frustrating me is that I don't have my computer fix so no PhotoShop, which Iíve become very dependent on prior to starting a new painting. Itís to the point that I can't (or won't) work without it. I had to do a thumbnail sketch for a woman who has commissioned me to do a painting and it was terrible to try and do it with watercolors although that's how I always used to do it and it had never been a problem before. I wonder if relying on PhotoShop so heavily has become a crutch that's going to hurt me or if it's a justifiable evolution of how I use technology for a traditional medium like oils?

Anyway, the universityís new graphic designer, Alison Caputo, came by for a visit on Thursday and showed me her website, which is I think is excellent. She showed me a lot of the work she's done and I was very impressed. It has made me rabid to buy a computerized drawing tablet thingy but I know nothing about them or how they work so I guess I'll have to look into them (new toys, yeah!).

Speaking of new toys, Jeff Jemison also came in on Thursday and showed me his new PANASONIC AG-DVC30 camcorder which was beautiful and also gave me pangs but even though awhile ago I said if I made enough money from painting sales this summer I'd buy a new mini-dv camcorder, I've decided to reinvest the money into my art business, supplies, getting the giclee prints done, having slides taken, etc. So I'll have to wait a little longer for the new camera.

I got an email from a visitor to this site enquiring as to which paintings were available so I emailed the gallery to find out and they wrote me back which ones were available, which I then sent to the man online; about 20 minutes later the gallery wrote me back that I had just sold another painting (Under the Devil's Club) which ironically, turned out to be the one the online guy had decided to buy!

But anyway, it means I've sold 7 out of 10 paintings so far...which is a new record for me in terms of the number of paintings sold during an exhibit. Very exciting. But it's kind of a mixed blessing too because I don't want to have inflated expectations for my next opening, or be driven to paint certain things in order to sell better (all the old arguments)... well, I can't worry about that, I just need to start painting again. Despite all my excitement and enthusiasm, I've been finding it difficult to get started. I haven't cracked open my oils in over two weeks now, which is terrible. The thing is, I don't have creative block or anything, I have more ideas than I know what to do with. I just can't start any of them. Any suggestions?

Replies: 8 Comments

on Monday, July 19th, Dio said

The photos are nice, lovely old ruins and nice light! Congrats on the success of the sales as well.

I think you've worked so hard recently you've earnt the break - down times are the best times for the new ideas developing.

You could just throw down some pencil thumbnails while the ideas are there. I also find word lists help me to record my thoughts about images as well as to inspire new ones.

Then, when you're ready, you will get stuck in. I think its best not to knock yourself for the down time. :)

on Monday, July 19th,">Elise said

Thanks Dio, normally I don't mind down time only I was in such a great groove before, and one thing I made a goal for this year was *consistency*. I don't want to just work in bursts followed by extended periods of not working. But maybe I will just start doing some sketches...that might be a good compromise.


on Monday, July 19th,">Elise said

Oh yah, here's another irony...of the three paintings that haven't sold, one of them is "Grounded" the painting of the woman with blonde hair sitting in a boat.

Back in early June I made this entry titled Finding the sweet spot about this painting; it's the only one in the show that I personally feel like I got exactly right.

Another painting "forget me nots" didn't sale at the opening, and is the one I spent 10 times longer working on then any of the others.

Which just goes to show you how subjective art is. In the end, I guess there is no way of knowing who will respond favorably to which better just please yourself first and foremost.

on Monday, July 19th, Howard said

I think a little down time after a successful show is fine. I wouldn't worry about it. It's also the middle of summer. Take a couple of weeks and relax, sketch out some ideas, maybe a couple of small water colours.
I think a good idea would be to make a date, like say the middle of August when you will get back to work.

on Tuesday, July 20th,">Jackie said

E: No matter what other people do or say about creativity, I feel strongly that it can't be forced. I guess that's one reason I would never want to be a 'full-time artist' - I tend to feel more trapped, or have artist's block, when I have this expectation that 8 hours a day, I will create art. Maybe more disciplined people can and like working that way. Many writers certainly have to do that - crank out book after book. It's just different for everyone. After a successful show, it's fine to sit back, relax, and let your creative juices just flow - without working hard on the physical part of creating. You are working anyway - taking all those pictures, and thinking about what you want to do with your next series of paintings!
Good luck - and congratulations on your fabulous success!

on Tuesday, July 20th,">Elise said

Thanks Jackie, I know you guys are right. I just have this deep all-consuming fear that I'll lose my momentum and won't be able to get it back. I've just had so many dry spells that it's like knowing what it's like to go hungry, if you've been there, you know you *never* want to go there again.

That's how I feel right now but maybe my feelings are driven more by fear than by ambition. I guess I need to crack out my copy of "Art and Fear" again.

on Tuesday, July 20th,">Stacy said

I'm so happy for your success! It was a fabulous show.

Even though I'm not in quite the same situation you're in (still a student and don't need to rely on an income yet), I still know how you feel. Right now, I like having the mentality of supporting myself with my artwork the way a full-time artist would. I go through weeks where I work consistently and then I'll lose that momentum and sometimes feel the same fear you do, although I know I don't need to feel that way.

I've discovered that I can only work about 4 real productive hours max on art per day. Then I do whatever else without feeling pressured about not being productive/creative (lucky for me, I don't have any real deadlines right now). Outside of those four hours, I might also read a good book on art (Iím reading Michelangelo and the Popeís Ceiling and Dante), look at other peopleís stuff like an art blog or message boards, or other art news. Keeps me feeling more up to date and productive as well. I love scrapbooking and writing also so I never really feel *undisciplined*.

When you do find times when you canít work on anything or *donít want to*, enjoy the break reasonably. It really is the only way to chill out and take a break. Like Jackie said, creativity can't be forced. Like when Joy was in town, I spent a couple weeks not thinking or doing anything about it and after she left I was happy to start working again. Iíve been finding that Iím more productive and less hard on myself.

This is my little theory on how productive I can be, but Iím certainly no professional artist. As for making money, Iím out of the loop.

on Wednesday, July 21st,">Elise said

4 real productive hours a day sounds like quite a lot to me, I mean, to work consistently.

When I get home from work at the end of the day I'm usually pretty tired. I have to make dinner, watch the news, and I know that if I start painting I might not be able to stop, which means going for long periods at a time with no or little sleep and then having to work a regular 9 hour shift at the library.

On the weekend it's a different story, I feel like there is plenty of time and I can paint all-day long at times...I just have to be working on something that interests me. I think the hardest thing about stopping painting for awhile is getting started again. I had 10 pieces in process just a short while ago and now I have zero works in progress, only blank canvases, and that can be pretty daunting when they're staring you down every day and every night.

When I say *force* myself to start painting again I mean just that. Just force myself to start. After I squeeze the first bit of paint onto a pallet, the rest will take care of itself.

It's just at the moment, something is holding me back from givin the old tube a lil squeeze.

I guess the consensus is not to worry about it. So, I guess I'll try not to.