Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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12/20/2005: "The down side of a full heart"

I saw "The Family Stone" with my dad the other day. A woman who gives grants to artists tells a story of a man on a little Island in Alaska who can't sleep at night because there's a hole in his heart; the only way he can fill it is by carving a totem pole. It's a beautiful story and acurate I think, in describing the near physical pain an artist feels when they *need* to create something.

For some reason I can't seem to create anything here. I have nearly all of my materials but something is different; I think maybe it's because the hole in my heart is missing.

Replies: 17 Comments

on Tuesday, December 20th,">Sam said

Do you remember that song from sesame street "there's a whole in the bucket, dear liza dear liza, there's a whole in the bucket dear liza, a whole"?

You just reminded me of that.
My question is if not having a hole in your heart is a good thing or not.

on Tuesday, December 20th, Elise said

Hi Sam,
In this case, I miss having that overwhelming sense of desire that overtakes you when you absolutely *have* to paint (or sculpt or write or whatever) know what I mean?

On the other hand, I'm sleeping OK (aside from the nightmares which are typical either way); there are no images floating around in my head begging to come out...though I admit that without my camera every single corn siloh, tractor, or spatter mark on the back of a mud flap, all seem like the most facinating compositions I've ever seen.

Nebraska is like the polar opposite of Alaska...and on a clear day, you can see for miles.

on Tuesday, December 20th, Elise said

You know, maybe "desire" isn't the right word. I think "urgency" is more accurate.

on Tuesday, December 20th, Raymond said

Speaking for myself, I'd agree that urgency is a more accurate description.

on Tuesday, December 20th, Elise said

Hi Raymond,
you know, maybe it's a combination of both urgency and desire?

When the ideas & images are crystal clear there is a feeling of wanting to get them "fixed in a tangible medium" asap...

but there are also times when the desire just to communicate something (intangible) is so intense that it makes me physically ache in my chest...especially when I can't express myself visually.

Because I'm sure of one thing, ultimately words are not my medium.

on Wednesday, December 21st, RR said

Perhaps it's like all holes in the heart; nothing can fix them, but you have to try to find a way of filling them up a little and make the gap smaller. Start small, work on a couple of little things that won't matter if you finish them or not and perhaps the little gap that fills will encourage you to carry on and fill the rest. But I know what you mean. Sometimes you just feel a bit empty, but you have to keep trying or the hole will get bigger.

on Wednesday, December 21st,">Jackie said

E: I know what you mean. Perhaps you don't have the creative urge or need, because you are with family and friends right now - instead of langouring all alone in your little Douglas Island house.
Before I got into my current relationship, I had tremendous creative drive. Then for a long while, when my partner & I first started living together, I had a long drought of creative drive. I had also moved to a new state - but it wasn't just my surroundings. But now I'm back in the groove, baby. So Elise: you are forbidden to ever fall in love and move away from Douglas Island. Sorry.
Maybe you should just relax and enjoy your visit? Oh - and I'm sure you're running around the streets, as Holly said, going "thuuuumbs". You zomibie girl, you!

on Wednesday, December 21st, Elise said

Hey RR, I just went by your site and didn't realize that you've been back online (for awhile now it seems)...yeah! And congrats on the new job too!

As for making the hole smaller, i know it sounds strange but I'm not sure I want to. The hole has always been there, sometimes a huge gaping chasm and sometimes (like now) just a tiny pin prick; the thing is, I need it to create and though it makes me absolutely crazy at times, I *miss* it when it's gone.

I agree with you Jackie that there is something about "langouring all alone in my little Douglas Island house" that makes the urgency to create more powerful than if I was, say, swept up in a new romance.

I made a very definitive decision several years ago to remove myself completely from romantic entanglements for precisely that reason.

All the energy I used to put into worrying about my looks or about some guy I was into, has been completely redirected.

Maybe "love" and family etc. could at least partially fill that space but if that means the desire for creating art diminishes, that's not a tradeoff I'm willing to make. It may seem closed off and really, I think many creative types can work just as well or even better in a relationship, but not me.

on Wednesday, December 21st, Elise said

btw Jackie, I'm happy that you've found a relationship where you can have both romance and still find your creative groove!

on Wednesday, December 21st, Jackie said

E: Yeah - well, it's hard to believe, but we've lived together for 8 years now, and been together for almost 9. Before that, I was in a LTR with someone else, but we never lived together. I lived with my mother and my young son and my younger nephew, in the house I grew up in. So I guess my artwork then was my 'escape'. Before that, I did not date anyone for about 6 years. Whoosh! Then I went all up in flames.

But I have to say, my life partner is supportive of my need to make art. SHe may not always 'get' my art work, but she pretty much likes all of it. I totally understand the feeling that there's a hole in your heart you need to fill.

I don't know how many creative types - artists or writers - that actually work better or well while in a relationship. I read all these writer's books on the writing process, and it's all them living as hermits, in some geographically isolated place, writing all night long, subsisting on saltines and whiskey, and I'm like: "suck! Damned if I would want that!" It's nice to have someone to warm the sheets for you, or drag you out to go for a Sunday drive. And I always know the work will still be there.
But believe me: I did not go out looking for love. It found me in the most unlikely of places. But that's a story for another time and place! Just know - you may not be as safe and sound and hermitty as you think...

:satisfied: :satisfied: ;)

on Wednesday, December 21st, holly said

Doesn't having a hole in your heart get awfully messy?

on Wednesday, December 21st, Elise said

You know Jackie, I think there are a lot of false stereotypes about artists (though your description *does* seem to fit in my particular case)
But I've always thought that some people become stronger when they're in a relationship (as in your case) and others become weaker (as in my case)

And as for "not looking" it's more than that for me, it's more like "actively resisting". I just do not want it (99.83% of the time). But you are right that no one ever knows for sure what will happen or how we'll feel 2 years from now...

And Holly, I doubt the hole in my heart is as messy as the lopped off portion of your thumb was!
I too worry that my pets will start getting ideas!

on Wednesday, December 21st, Elise said

btw, I wonder what the /tequila sign off meant? We should create a new emoticon for that. I'll post it when I get back to my PhotoShop (shudders in cold withdrawls)

on Wednesday, December 21st, Jackie said

E: Do you have any emoticons with x's for eyes - maybe a half-killed bottle
lying next to them? I think that's what /tequila means.

What? Did you give up coffee? It's not even Lent yet! Errr..or is that too much coffee?

BTW - I wasn't trying to fit either of us into a stereotype. Personally, I hate stereotypes. It just seems that creative types are prone to relationship problems, perhaps because of the necessity of abandoning everyone and thing in an effort to fill the burning desire/fill the hole in their heart. Gads! That sounds like a line from a steamy romance novel! :O

on Wednesday, December 21st, Elise said

I think Holly's
meant that she was drinking tequila (her b-day drink) so I put
/coffee cuz that's what I was drinking.

Give up coffee? Hell No! I live for the stuff...I've tried so many times and now they're saying it's not bad for you after all.

And I no you weren't trying to stereotype, I just don't want anyone to think that I believe the decision I've made makes any sense to anyone else.
ah hell, it's late.

on Thursday, December 22nd, Jackie said

E: I just want you to know that I've been totally screwing off yesterday afternoon and this morning at work. I have suddenly been inspired to update my blog - so check it out (complete with a pic): PS - hope you enjoy the zombie gingerbread man I sent you.

on Thursday, December 22nd, Elise said

YEAH! I'm happy that you're blogging again! I think everyone should have a blog (and update it now and again)
I *love* the zombie gingerbread man, I wanted to upload a photo of it but it was made using Flash and I don't have the software for screen capture on my current machine, but it was very clever!

Also, the new mask (if it looks anything like the one you posted) is incredible.