Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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07/22/2004: "Commitment Phobic"

music: NPR's "This American Life"
technorati tags: Upbeat

I think after much reflection that you're all probably right in that we need down time after an exhibit for new ideas to ferment. For example, I've realized that maybe the reason I'm dragging my heels with starting anew, is because I haven't quite decided on what it is I want to do next. Currently I have five ideas percolating:

1. Treadwell paintings- Paintings of contemporary ruins from the Alaskan Gold Rush with ghostly images of early 19th century figures integrated into the scenes.

2. A series of triptychs on the alluvial flows of tidal flats, bug burrowing patterns on driftwood, and the individualized markings on whale flukes. (One painting of each viewed in sets of three, nine total)

3. A series I started awhile ago on different types of couples (gay, straight, inter-racial, etc.), close-up, right at the point of kissing.

4. Finishing up another project I started 4 years ago of paintings of all my women friends from all over the country and overseas. I sent out disposable cameras along with a description of the project, asking them to have someone photograph them doing the everyday activities that they felt best defined them as a person. I got back some incredible photographs. I was going to do the painting of the most representative photo of each woman and then have them write a paragraph or two about why they think it is reflective of who they've become. I just came across that stack of materials while cleaning for my family's visit.

5. Integrating the female figure, the Southeast Alaskan Landscape, and bluegrass musical instruments. This is a new one, but I love bluegrass and I was thinking of some traditional bluegrass instruments that I'd love to integrate into a painting: upright bass, fiddle, banjo, musical saw, mandolin, dobro, Hammered Dulcimer etc. Some of the shapes are very complimentary. It would be a solo performer, or perhaps taking a nap with instrument nearby. This is new direction is my current favorite.

I also had an idea for a painting of several people playing bluegrass instruments on the bow of a sailboat. I was thinking of the sailing trip I missed this summer to go to the Boardwalk Boogie, a big bluegrass festival in Pelican Alaska and how they took several instruments onboard with them to jam with on the ride over.

And while I realize I don't have to only do one kind of work, and that I promised to experiment more, I have been brainwashed into always thinking, and working, in a series. As much as I despise that, I can't seem to get away from it. And in terms of exhibiting, I think a series makes for a better show.

Anyway, I feel less worried about my current inability to get started now that I see it's more about not being able to commit to a new project. Of the ideas I've listed above, I'd love to hear which, if any, seems the most promising. I think once I commit to an idea, it will be much easier to get working again. Also, I know that just because I commit to working on a new series doesn't mean I can't go on tangents when ever I feel like's just that you have to be going somewhere in order for a tangent to exist (by definition it is a sudden digression or change of course).


I just told the bluegrass instrument idea to a co-worker and she liked it a lot and further suggested that I try to get a show during the Alaska Folk Festival and have prints made up in advance. I think that's an excellent suggestion.

Replies: 1 Comment

on Thursday, July 22nd,">Steve said

I think all your ideas have potential. Personally I think that project with your women friends sounds the most interesting but it seems like really you've already made up your minde on the bluegrass idea?

But like you said you don't have to just do one thing, you could try working on a couple different series at the same time. There's no law against that.