Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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06/13/2005: "Creating sparks..."

Moment in time #1: This is going to take a lot longer than I’d hoped but I can probably pull it off…painting is hard.

Moment in time #2: This is too easy; everything works perfectly first try…looks great and am feeling thrilled and super smug with self. Will finish everything and sell a lot of these. Hurah!

Moment in time #3: Oops, well that sucks…wait, if I can just make this line a little more…no, that just made it worse…well, I can scrub this section out and just, oh crap, wait, some red might…NO!... ah hell! I am miscreant, talentless hack.

Moment in time #4: ????

This cycle tends to repeat and repeat for me… (See a previous post called How to ruin a painting in 5 minutes or less). The carnage this time was considerably less than usual because after I royally F#$@-up the first piece, I followed my own advice and decided to only work on new paintings, so I wouldn’t risk completely destroying paintings that are already far along.

On Sunday I saw an exhibit by someone not afraid to break out of the show we call theme. I’ve decided that I’m going to try and do maybe 4 new paintings, very small on panel. I’m going to paint anything that comes in my mind no matter if it “works” with the other pieces or not. Themes be damned I say!

I see a melancholic looking woman with her head down in ¾ pose at night with the lights from a carnival behind her and a Ferris wheel that looks like a halo…Name it “Madonna of the Ferris Wheel” after all those “Madonna Enthroned with Child” paintings from the Renaissance.

But first, down to the dreaded 1977 2-stroke Johnson 7.7HP albatross with my friend DeLynn to see if it’s something we can repair or if we need to remove it from the transom and haul into the ship chandler’s where it will languish away for the better part of the summer.

I'm thinking one of my small paintings will be of my used and dirty spark-plugs...a kind of autobiographical piece.

Replies: 8 Comments

on Tuesday, June 14th, Howard said

I can relate to #3.

on Tuesday, June 14th, Elise said

I have a feeling every artist from the dawn of time can relate to #3 Howard!

Painting (or any art form) is such an emotional roller coaster. I try to look at things in terms of averages, am I having more good days than bad?

Last night I just attacked all my paintings with reckless abandon, it was kind of liberating. I'm not sure if I made them better or worse but I had a hell of a good time and ultimately, that's the important thing right?

on Tuesday, June 14th, greg said

You guys could do what I find lately works for me ... see I know I am an artistic genius of epoch changing proportions. To keep this fantasy alive I create no actual art, thereby alieviating the need to ever judge my ideas as less than perfect. Soooper geniuuus! :rolleyes:

It helps to open up. I think I made a break though. Thanks you guys! :) group hug

Back to semi-reality: Elise did you ever actually restart any of your paintings on a fresh surface? -"Canvassa Rasa?"

Averaging I think is a good tact. Thats what makes financial investing work out in the end!

on Tuesday, June 14th, Elise said

I never actually started any of the same paintings over on a fresh canvas (or panel) because if I can't figure out what isn't working on the canvas in front of me, repainting the same painting on a new canvas doesn't make much sense to me.

I have started some totally new paintings though. I'm working on some smaller scale stuff. It feels great to start some new paintings but I'm running out of time so I have to be careful to spend enough time on the ones I've already got "in play" as it were.

on Tuesday, June 14th, Howard said

Sometimes making variations of the same image helps to work out what's not wokring. It's sort of like what you do in photoshop in a way, but sometimes to figure out what's not working in a painting requires more painting.

on Tuesday, June 14th, Elise said

Hmmm, well, I guess I can kindof see your point. If I had the luxury of time I might try that, at this point if something isn't working I'm more likely to just leave it out of the show. But maybe once the show is over, if I think it's a good *idea* I could give it another go.

on Wednesday, June 15th, greg said

Time is of the essense! But to expand on Howards line of thought, recreating versions of images, offers, I think, the intuition to lead to new discoveries. It's like how Michaelangelo felt the block of marble call to him what to create, and he just carves away the unnecessary. It's worth trying it again to see if the placement, the tone of the shadow, the curve of the line could be adjusted somehow. You will see new, better things as you proceed. It's not like you're giving up the first piece - I know I'd noodle away until the overt sense of dissatisfaction is replaced by at least "OOkaaay!" - but if the design is something you like ... definitely try it again!

There's something too about the traditional artist training techniques involving repetition. Students would copy and recopy works of older masters, and draw from these catalogues of images over & over again. It's one reason the excellent draftsmanship is so evident in works before the 20th C.

on Wednesday, June 15th, Elise said

I get what you’re saying, I’ve done my fair share of copying…I can’t really explain why I’m not crazy about the idea of repainting things. It’s one thing if it’s a similar theme, etc. but I don’t like to paint the same exact painting. For one thing, I do most of my playing around (with colors, lines, etc.) in PhotoShop before I ever pick up the brush.

Also, I have *so many* ideas for new paintings that I could never possibly get around to doing all of them…for me, once I’ve done a painting…no matter how successful or unsuccessful it is, I feel a certain amount of “been there done that”…right now I have so much work that I have to complete. The pieces for this show, as well as 3 different commissioned pieces etc.

Oh, but speaking of commissions, I did one painting that sold in a show and an online client asked me if I could paint him something similar. I painted him something very similar, but because I had already worked out some of the bugs with the first one, it went faster and turned out much better than the first one. So, I guess it can be a valuable exercise.