Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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10/31/2004: "I Yams What I Yams"

A couple nights ago I watched "Spiderman Two" and there was a line in it that got me thinking...Peter Parker tries to stop being Spiderman so he can have a normal life and be with the woman of his dreams but realizes it's not going to happen. He says something like "Sometimes you have to give up what you want the most to do the right thing, even your dreams".

See, I'm supposed to go to Anchorage for ten days over Thanksgiving to help my sister Jenny who is due to have her first baby. I also promised to finish painting the mural I started in the nursery. Looking at the calendar I realized it's the 2 weeks right before my show. There's just no way I can do them both. I can't take a shorter trip either because there aren't available flights so it's all or nothing and I don't think I could live with myself if I let her down.

I told her about it and I know she's really upset at me. I started thinking about it, and there have been so many times that I've let people down, that I've been a bad friend...missed people's birthday parties or flaked out of obligations because I'm painting or working on a show. Being an artist is the most important thing to me but that also makes *me*...the most important thing to me...and that's incredibly self-centered.

It's not the first time I've wondered about what I'm giving up, and if it's worth it. For one thing I'm not convinced that I like the person I've become and I don't know if it's possible to change who I am at my core, or more importantly, if I even want to try. I'm so used to saying "hey, this is who I am and if you need a person you can count on than you probably don't want me as a friend"...god that seems so lame. I'm going to die totally alone and that doesn't even freak me out anymore.

As for the conference in Kansas City I just got back from, well, it was...interesting. On my flight there I awoke to passengers and flight attendants screaming at me to get out of my seat. They were rangling a passanger who went off the deep end...put him in my row (last row in the aircraft) got him in cuffs, he cursed at the top of his lungs for the rest of the 2 hour flight and we had to wait until the cops came aboard and drug him away before we could deplane.

Coming back we had to circle around Minneapolis for an hour because Airforce One was at the airport getting ready to leave and they had secured the airspace around the airport. No one could come or go until he did. I felt like I was in "Die Hard II" not knowing what was going on and watching a bunch of other aircraft circling around and around with us.

I also got to stay in a swanky high rise hotel during a tornado warning (remind me not to watch "Day After Tomorrow" so much) ordered room service and watched HBO, pay per view movies and non-stop CNN. Man, talk about a lot of political adds. In Alaska we're a solid red state so no one bothers but in Missouri, a swing state, it was a non-stop bombardment.

I can't wait until Tuesday, if both Knowles and Kerry lose, don't plan to hear anything from me for a good long while because I'll be starting my paperwork for imigrating to Canada. Hey, love it or leave it, as they say...

Replies: 6 Comments

on Monday, November 1st, Jim L said

About living with or being friends with artists: My best friend (who was a great painter) got married and one day his wife asked me "How can I best support his art?" or something to that effect. I answered that the only way you could support it was to stay as much out of the way as possible - which, knowing her, would be impossible. I love both of them, but there is no way that he could have a studio in his house without being interrupted continuously. Something would have to give.

So, he stopped doing art and he is now running a very successful animation company. But I miss the paintings that he would have done.

So, yes, if you want to be the person that makes the paintings that only you can make, and your family/friends want you to be that person (and they should), then the space you need shouldn't have to be fought for and you should not feel guilty for having that space.

on Monday, November 1st, Elise said

Thanks Jim, that's a nice example. I think one of the reasons that my relationships never worked out was that guys tend to not understand when you don't want to see them that much. They sort of take it personally. If you're going to have a non-artist person in your life and they want to be your top priority, it can cause problems.

I still would feel really bad to not go and help my sister out. She will need it, I think she's worried as this is her first baby.

Maybe I'll just have to do as many paintings as I can up until I take off for Anchorage and just force myself to be happy with whatever I have done at that time.

Either way, I don't think I'll be heavily publicizing this next show.

on Monday, November 1st, Marja-Leena said

I've been thinking about what you've written for a while. I think this situation happens more often to women - we are expected to care about & for others unselfishly. Picasso was successful but not a nice man because he used women. I often think I might have been a more successful artist if I were not a wife and mother, yet I could not imagine life without my family. It's difficult to balance it all and I don't envy your dilemma, just empathize. Good luck!

on Monday, November 1st, Elise said

I agree Marja-Leena, that is one of the reasons why historically women have had to struggle so hard to acheive at the same rate as men -period.

One of the artists who has influenced me the most is Kathe Kollwitz. She was incredibly prolific, socially concious, and both a wife and mother. I don't have a husband or children and I'm still no where near as productive as she was.

I admire women like you who produce art as well as families. A family is something I decided at around age 15 would not be in the picture for me if I wanted to be a "serious" artist and that has stuck with me ever since. Primarily because of an art teacher who told me I would never make it as a woman artist because I'd end up a farmer's wife with nine kids (grew up in rural Nebraska).

Who knows, if he hadn't made that statement then I may have ended up there. And who knows, I may have ended up a lot happier!

on Tuesday, November 2nd,">SB said

Well, you haven't ended up anywhere yet, nor likely will for some time to come! So all possibilities are open. It ain't over till the adipose-challenged
guy sings. Don't worry
Be happy.

on Tuesday, November 2nd, Elise said

Well, that may be the case SB but I highly doubt I'll end up a farmer's wife with nine kids at this stage of the game. There does come a point in life where *all* possibilites are not still open.

The truth is, I have never really wanted a husband and kids. It's funny because when I go back to my home town all the town's folk ask me if I have children or if I'm married or some combo of the two. I say "no" and after they conceal their initial look of shock :confused: they usually give me a condescending pat on the back and tell me "Don't worry honey, there's still time". It's like the possibility that I *choose* to not have a family never even enters their minds.

But you're right that whatever is going to happen, i need to learn to not worry about it so much.