Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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09/19/2005: "When it's cold out..."

This weekend I went out twice (gasp) Friday night I saw Howl's Moving Castle, the new animated film by Miyazaki and the first time I've seen one of his films on the big screen (beautiful)

Saturday night I saw a play at the theatre across the street from me called The People's Temple about the Jonestown Massacre. That was intense in a different way, I hadn't known much about that event before this, about how Jim Jones started out as a decent guy, a socialist and a strong desegregationist and civil rights activist. Then, all the adulation went to his head and he started preaching that he was god, not Jesus, and then there were the drugs and paranoia and ultimately the nightmare in Guyana.

The production had a top notch cast from LA and NYC and the way they told the story from the rememberances of survivors, was interspersed with this incredible gospel music. I've never heard live gospel music before and it really blew me away. I enjoyed the show overall, but it reminded me of two things I'd rather not remember. A. how good it feels to be a true believer, and B. how much it sucks to lose faith.

canoe (66k image)

Here's a picture I took Friday of someone canoeing in front of the Mendenhall Glacier.

Replies: 18 Comments

on Monday, September 19th, Dio said

Wow - Awsome shot - great colours - you gonna paint it at some point? :D

on Monday, September 19th, holly said

Whoa-- that doesn't even look real. Amazing!

on Monday, September 19th, Elise said

I don't know about that Dio, painting it I mean. I promised myself my work would never turn into "Alaskana" (not that there's anything wrong with that) and this would be stepping dangerously close.

I have considered painting close ups of glacier ice, more abstract...or even use it as background for one of my women, (which I've done before) it probably sounds silly.

on Monday, September 19th, subi said

okay,'s my 2cents...i don't know how, but i think as an artist you've got to somehow get over thwe alaskana stuff...i DO know what you mean, but hey, you've lived in alaska for what 15 years now AND are a damn in good artist in your own right with many various avenues of art and i doubt you would ever give up painting your funky women. are you maybe afraid of doing art that woulld be or seem to easy? like taking away from native art or stealing from it? would you be afraid if your art started selling really fast and quick? i mean, idk, it seems that 'most' people who can afford art aren't purchashing the kind of art or poetry that faminished artists such as ourselves are creating for art's sake. there really might be something worth exploring in nature art /alaskana...hmmm...i think it could be challenging...having elements of that which seems like 'art' to many but also adding a unique twist a nude woman drowning/ (i first typed sinking like 'she' were a vessel...but go with me here... i don't know, i just wonder if your resistance to what many define as tourist art could hold a strange if not ironical appeal??? in way of humour? idk...just my ramblings here of course and in no way would i want to lose the fab colors and lustrous women...but it could be an interesting project. did it just drive you crazy that 'the pump house was so commented on and appreciated in a way that maybe your more sophisticated works aren't (speaking in generalities...outside the artist field that is) okay. i'll shut me trap now! :confused:

on Monday, September 19th, subi said

btw, i love that photo too! you've turned out to be quite the multigenred artist...those colors are fantastic! and sure do remind of the color scheme you might choose in a woman painting...' :)

on Monday, September 19th, mick said

Isnt that a slab of ice crashing into the water in bottom right hand corner ? Glad I wasnt in the canoe lol. Before I read your post I had a little play with the bottom corner and came up with a sort of abstract image that I quite liked - but went too far and spoilt it - What about an Ice Woman emerging or even metamorphosing from the wall of ice ? OK perhaps its a silly idea - but u know what I mean LMAO.

on Monday, September 19th, Elise said

I've taken loads of photos out at this glacier over the years, I've probably run every PhotoShop filter on them you can name, my personal fav being "cutout". Some of the manipulated photos turned out really cool, that's why I'd be more apt to do a painting from a photo I've manipulated, than just trying to recreate what I've already captured on film.

And Subi, I understand what you're saying too, and I think the bottom line is that I'll always paint what I feel like painting. Sometimes a photo I take is interesting and unusual enough that it inspires me to paint it as well, because I think there's something I can add that is only possible through paint...but other than that, I doubt I will ever want to just paint Alaskan landscapes. I mean, not even taking into consideration that once you start doing that you lose your street cred ( :laugh: )
I jus don't wanna.

And it's not worry over selling a lot of work, I LOVE to sell work, but I want to sell paintings that only I could do, that scream ELISE PAINTED THIS and not something you see over and over again in every tourist shop on main street.

Things I post here might seem interesting to people not living in Alaska, but if you saw all the crap paintings of glaciers and northern lights etc. it would make you want to hurl.

I agree that by adding another element you lean away from that, which is what I have tried to maintain in my paintings that have landscapes. I did a painting called "the temperature of skin" of a red woman reclinging in front of a glacier. I liked it quite a lot actually.

on Monday, September 19th,">Rod Curtain said

Good luck becoming a full-time artist painting pictures that YOU enjoy. Don’t you realize that, if you’re going to support youself, you’re going to have to paint what other people want? Maybe all those “alaskana” artists you loathe so much paint those pictures so that they’ll have the financial freedom to do their own art, in their own time. You saw it in the pumphouse picture, why can’t you see it? The key to quitting your day job is there for the taking.

on Monday, September 19th, Elise said

Hi Rod, I think "loath" is a bit harsh isn't it. I don't loath any artist for painting what they love (if that's what they're doing), and I'm sure many of those artists really enjoy what they're painting and I wish them no ill will that they can earn a living at it. I say "go for it!

I have friends here in Juneau who paint those kinds of scenes and many show a high level of skill.

It came out wrong, my saying "crap paintings that would make you want to hurl but *some* of them are crap, and painted solely for money and no other reason.

Here's my bottom line, WHEN I get to the point where I can make my living full time as an artist, it will be on my terms. Period.

If I paint something that speaks to me and it speaks to someone else to the extent they want to fork over their hard earned cash for it then great, we both win. But I won't put my name on something I'm not proud of to turn a quick profit.

I don't consider myself any less successful as an artist because I need a day job for the time being. I know going full-time is the Holy Grail for visual artists, but I'd rather earn $1000 sitting in a cubical than by selling a painting that I think is a sellout piece of stink.

on Monday, September 19th, mick said

If Art was only ever done for commercial gain then every artist would be "knocking out" paintings in the style of Picasso, Hockney and so forth.
Thankfully Art moves on and has a life because each artist develops their own unique style - without artists like yourself Art would soon become sterile and worthless.
The original "Artists" of this world produced images that could not be captured in any other way whereas now a beautiful scene can be captured in the blink of an eye and processed in seconds.
Hence, Art has moved on and we can enjoy a much wider range of images- some which please and many others which do not.
You can probably train a monkey to churn out some of the garbage that claims to be "original art" but it does not move you in the way that someones unique style and concept does.

Stick to your guns Elise and one day you will be rich or poor. But at least you will not have sold your soul.

on Monday, September 19th,">Jackie said

E: Bully for you! Yes - stick to your guns! I, too, would never stoop to producing art just for the sake of a sale, or because it's what someone else wants me to make. I have carved masks for many years now (and that's my heritage), but I also have my own work I pursue. When I first displayed some original pieces, and well-meaning friend's mom said "Well I don't know why you made these at all. Your masks were so much better. " Because she could not imaging hanging that new work in her living room, or anything that wasn't Alaskana to her. These folks had painted gold pans, saws, animal hides and heads hanging all over their house.
BTW - there was a really well-done series of articles on the dilemma of Alaska Native artists recently in the Anchorage Daily News. I'll link you, or forward them, as I think that's a paper that requires a 'subscription' to get archived articles.
Love the glacier, too! :D

on Monday, September 19th, Elise said

Thanks guys! I was thinking about what Rod wrote, and I wonder if you can even say that you work as an fulltime artist, if you are only doing your "real" work for a portion of that time. In that case, what's the difference between doing any other type of job for money, so you can have time to do your "real" work, ya know? What's the difference?

Oh, and Jackie I'd like to read that article. I have a subscription to the online anchorage daily news if you send me the links or titles of the articles.

Oh, the statement "your masks were so much better" is hurtful, but as you said, people have different tastes and they don't always understand why a person would spend time on something new when they're really good at doing something that people already love.

It's something that not everyone will understand.

on Monday, September 19th, Howard said

It takes time for people to come around when making your own art. The context may take years to develope.
Making only art that other people like, art that is a sure sell is kind of missing the whole point. Yes there is a place for that and yes their are artist that are quite happy to make it, but there is more than that. For myself making my own art is far more satisfying than pumping out images that I know would sell.

on Tuesday, September 20th,">Jackie said

E: Well, I am not able to access the articles from ADN. However, they are a 4-part series, and the name of the article is: 'Subsistence Trap'. If you search the archives for August, you should find the 4 articles. Sorry about that! I guess I deleted my friend's e-mail after I printed the articles to read.

on Tuesday, September 20th, Elise said

No worries Jackie, I'm an information professional!

And Howard, I agree about selling work you know will sell is "missing the point". I know we got into that process or artifact debate awhile back and maybe this falls along those lines...about what motivates us in the first place. I just don't think it can come from a financial place.

on Tuesday, September 20th, mick said

I bet you can name far more successful modern "pop groups" than you can "modern artists" which just goes to show how difficult it is to succeed as an artist regardless of merit.

on Tuesday, September 20th, greg said

Interesting discussion. This blog is starting to turn into a forum!!

In a way I think I feel like I've just sold my soul. I need to turn my back on painting (hopefully not forever) which never manifests enough drive to sustain itself no matter how much I wish it to. Wretched muse!

Next week I start a certificate program in 3D animation because I need to support my family and get a real job. Getting too old to mess around, and being fine artist must not be who I am. I'm certainly not a commercial designer either, so I guess this is the bitter compromise. No need to comment - just venting.

Anyway! Yay for painted "funky women!" :laugh:
I watch on with excitement (& perhaps a twinge of jealous admiration), but I think you just might be able to do it Elise! Godspeed!:)

on Tuesday, September 20th, Elise said

Yah Mick, what does "famous" mean anyway, in the visual arts???

And I think 3-d annimation would be a lot of fun, plus you're good at it! And, it is as much an art form as any, it's the ideas and what you put into it.

And thanks for your twinge of jealous admiration!!!