Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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08/28/2004: "Don't expect me to answer."

When I find myself in a creative slump there are usually a few things I can do to snap myself out of it.

First of all, I am a big fan of fire. I mean I love love love it. I have to have candles burning when I'm at home, especially at night. I find them very soothing. Yesterday afternoon I picked up a few new ones during my lunch break and they've made the entire house smell fantastic. Not over powering or perfumey (which I hate) but a very subtle smell, like something wonderful has been baking in the oven.

Secondly, I work much better when the house is clean. I got it whipped into shape pretty good last weekend and this weekend I gave it another once over...paid bills, did some laundry...having a clutter-free space to work in does wonders for me.

Thirdly, when I can't seem to get back into my good work habits of painting everyday, I find that buying art supplies helps a little. On Friday I bought 4 new brushes and a couple plastic palette knives but just having those perfectly white bristles waiting for me, inspired me to get to work.

Finally, nothing helps me get in the mood more than music. I don't know what it is about him but Elliot Smith can get me painting again when nothing and no one else can. (Why oh why did he have to kill himself???). (And strangely enough, watching Cillian Murphy in anything also inspires me work, although in that case it's usually just drawing or painting him which isn't that helpful in the case of being very behind on my next show).

So, I'm not making huge production line leaps yet, but I've got three new paintings in the hopper and I hope to take pictures of them this week and start a new "In Progress" gallery. These new tide paintings are very different from my normal work but now that I'm getting my groove on, it's kind of a nice change of pace. I'm using palette knives for laying down the initial texture which is a lot of fun.

In other news, I am just about finished delivering the sold paintings that had been held hostage at the printers for close to a month. Turns out they were knocking themselves out trying to color match a pigment that scanners and digital cameras just can't see. The prints look fantastic though, the place I took them did an amazing job and it's really exciting to have prints made for the first time.

This afternoon I went to deliver two more paintings and the woman who bought them wanted to get picture framing wire added to the back of the frames since I hadn't done that. We took them to a big gallery downtown that also does framing called Gallery of the North, and the owner really liked my work. He showed me how he drills on little side brackets to attach the wires to the frames and did it for free, which was very cool of him.

He asked about where I had shown and if he could see more of my work. He also owns a very popular martini bar and said that he thought my work would be a good fit there for their "VIP Room". Also said he might be interested in the prints when they're available and gave me his card, asking me to send him a link to where he could see more of my work.

It made me feel great, but there is also something inside me that makes me hold back. I know I should be jumping on opportunities like this. I have gotten a lot of cards from galleries etc. interested in carrying my work...I never do anything about it. Like I haven't emailed this gallery owner yet and there's a good chance I won't. I know I need to better at self-promotion and I'll go as far as trying to get shows but anything else makes me...nervous I guess. I don't know what I'm so afraid of. It's just like how I've handled the opportunity I had (have?) to exhibit in sounded great but once I started thinking it over I chickened out. I think my comfort zone in this area is quite small.

And yesterday a guy I met sailing last summer called and left me a message to let me know he was planning to take his sail boat out this weekend if I was interested in taking mine out as well, to race etc. and that I should give him a call. This guy was a lot of fun, as I recall, and I love sailing and racing especially (even though his boat is twice as fast as mine) but as much as I wanted to call him back, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I'm beginning to think I suffer from some kind of social anxiety or something.

I was the main presenter on Friday for a faculty development seminar and I told the audience that I hate talking on the phone and the guy coordinating the seminars pulled me aside afterward to say that wasn't the best thing to be telling people who may need to contact me for help. I just told him that it's true, can't they just email me? What's happening to me? I mean, I teach in front of classrooms full of college students and yet I can't follow through on potentially beneficial contacts or even answer my own phone anymore...

What’s wrong with me?

Replies: 3 Comments

on Sunday, August 29th, RR said

Sounds like one of those blips of confidence. Hope you don't mind me saying, I think you should really go for the art opportunities. Your work is fantastic with a very distinctive style which could be huge. Perhaps that's what you are afraid of - it's only natural. But you've done shows before and they've gone well. Just keep plugging away and although you don't have to take all the opportunities, pick one and go for it and see what happens. I wish I was half as good as you. Also, give the sailing guy a call and say you couldn't manage this weekend but that it might be fun to do another time. Regarding phone and email - so what if you say you don't like talking on the phone, this is the electronic age if you prefer to use email that's great - it's means you can manage your time more effectively and answer the enquiries at your pace instead of hundreds of intrusive phone calls. I'm with the email.

There how was that for advice :rolleyes:

on Sunday, August 29th, Howard said

It sounds like these new opportunities are the next step for you. It's understandable that it might be a bit scarey, but you shouldn't let that hold you back. I've had these sort of hang ups as well. It kind of feels like walking off of a cliff. It's something unknown and that can be hard at first.
Ok enough of that, now get in touch with those galleries!

on Sunday, August 29th, Elise said

Oh yah, RR...I think it's funny you thought I was a counselor because of my email address....I'm actually going to change it to something else...

What do you think:">


But seriously, thanks for the compliment RR, I don't think it's deserved but you're nice to say it. I think your paintings are very good by the way and I'm looking forward to seeing your new online gallery when it's ready.

And Howard, I know you're in a similar boat as me in this regard, having to decide how to take the next step...I'm not sure I'm ready to walk off just yet.