Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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07/21/2004: "Hairy Encounter / Hair-brained Idea?"

Walking up to the university from the parking lot this morning I almost got run over by a young deer. It ran past me so closely on that I could have touched it. Now, deer may not seem very exotic to most of you, but they are fairly rare here in Juneau. I have seen *way* more bears, eagles, and whales than Iíve seen deer. Plus, Iíve never seen one that close before. It was raining really hard out too, and when I came to the little clearing near the entrance to the library, he was still standing there, so close, looking like a post card. No one else was around and it made me feel profoundly happy, even though my magic moment caused me to become quite drenched.

deer (57k image)

Photo my co-worker Lori took of the deer that nearly ran me down

In other news, I have this idea and Iím wondering if itís a good idea or a stupid idea so I need a little feedback. Juneau is a tourist destination spot that gets nearly a million visitors a year. I was thinking that I next summer I could try and hold little week-long artist retreats in my house. I have a small but very cute guest bedroom with its own little fridge, a microwave, cable TV with DVD player, a private bathroom, walk in closet, queen sized bed, etc.

I could advertise private instruction in areas such as painting, building gallery wrapped canvases, how to take professional slides, PhotoShop, web development, etc. depending on the personís interests. They could spend the afternoons working in the ďstudioĒ (I have two easels and tons of materials) or they could use the time to do all the touristy things that Juneau has to offer, Iím in downtown Douglas, just a 5 minute bus ride from downtown Juneau. The instruction can take place in the evenings and on the weekend. Iím a friendly person and I think it would be fun to meet new artists in this way. I can screen potential guests ahead of time to make sure theyíre not dangerous, and could book either an individual or a couple.

Iíd work it out so that the fees would be for art materials and instruction, not for housing (theyíd be my guest) that way my regular business license would suffice rather than having to get certified as a bed and breakfast, which I hear is a real nightmare. I can take photos of Juneau, my house, the "studio" area, the guest room, myself, etc. and put together a slick looking add, put a link to it from my web site...I'm not sure what to charge, I was thinking 500 for the week and they'd have to pay for their own transportation and meals. It would be less expensive than the price of a standard hotel room in Juneau for a week (over a hundred dollars a day during the summer).

Anyway, do you think there would be any market for such a thing or does it sound silly? I guess Iím pretty determined to find ways to put my artistic skills to work for me.

Replies: 6 Comments

on Wednesday, July 21st,">karen said

Have followed your blog for a while and think your new idea about art/retreat lessons is a GREAT idea. I was trained a graphic artist, started painting after having my family.....I would welcome the chance to learn and or explore on a one on one basis, especially color theory and mixing. Spoiled from using pastels, frightened by oils,
Just be careful, lotta wierd folk out there!
Sign me up!

on Wednesday, July 21st,">Elise said

Oooh goodie Karen! Color theory is one of my favorite areas of study.


yes, a little afraid of the weirdo factor but also a rather trusting sort. I've traveled a lot and have been taken in by many a stranger with the happiest of results...hopefully my track record will continue to be a good one.

Thanks for the encouragement as well! Do you live here in Juneau or down South?

Anyway, I think I'll make an web page advertising what I have to offer and double check on some legal issues then ask for more advice/opinions.

Just happy that even one person thinks it sounds like a fun plan.

on Wednesday, July 21st,">Stacy said

I think the retreat sounds like a good idea, having been lightly thinking about it with Heidi to perhaps bring in people from outside to hold retreats. Nat'l Geo photographer, Steve McCurry, (photographed the Afghan Girl) holds photography workshops in his studio. It sounds similar to what you've written about.

on Wednesday, July 21st,">Elise said

Thanks for forwarding me the page relating to your friend's workshops. He's charging $950 dollars for a weekend not including housing, transportation, or labs...for group instruction... so I may have luck by booking individuals for private instruction and also providing housing.

I think I'm less interested in doing group workshops because although I have teaching experience I prefer one on one interaction.

Anyway, I'll continue to post information on this as I develop it. I know there are losts of similar retreat type events being held all over the world so I'm going to do some more research to see which will be the best fit for me. I'm excited though, I think it will be a lot of fun.

on Thursday, July 22nd, Dio said

Hey, great idea. Book me in for a week or two!

on Thursday, July 22nd,">Elise said

Hey, maybe all of us should start these and any artist hosting a workshop/retreat gets free addmission into all the other members retreats. A less expensive way to see some cool parts of world while picking up new techniques from fellow artists!