Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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01/04/2006: "Disappearing Act"

Night falling on the city
Quite something to behold
Donít it just look so pretty
This disappearing world

- David Gray

So I'm home again and back to my normal routines. I have food in the fridge and a clean house and about 30 blank canvases staring me down. I remember this one moment shortly before I left for vacation, with extreme clarity. I was sitting with a small pile of drawings I had done in Photoshop- thumbnails for new paintings I was getting ready to start...I had done them all in the space of a few hours and I thought, holy shit, I have enough ideas, enough images, to keep me working forever!

I could see them all marching in line like Fantasian mops, one after the other, months or maybe years worth of paintings coming down the pike with me, the cocky sorcererís apprentice, waving my magic wand. What the hell happened? I blamed it on being "home" in Nebraska, away from my studio and Photoshop and on the holidays etc. but I have no excuses now. There's just nothing in there anymore and it's disappointing to the point of tears. Literally. I sat in front of my easel for nearly 20 minutes tonight crying until my eyes physically hurt. I look like I've smoked about 40 bowls in a row. The illusion that this was ever going to get any easier has vanished.

Replies: 13 Comments

on Thursday, January 5th, Dio said

I always find it hard to get back into the right frame of mind after a break - but you have a raft of great ideas by the sound of it, and that's half the battle won already. Just kill the white - it all feels easier then ;)

on Thursday, January 5th, Kasia said

Don't worry! It's always like that after a break! The feeling of ever-lasting power will be back soon!

on Thursday, January 5th, Elise said

Breaks are the worst in some ways aren't they Dio?

The point is though, I'm looking at all those little scraps of paper I thought looked so amazing back than and thinking ACK! I'm not excited by them anymore and I don't feel like working on them anymore or on anything else.

It just sucks. I'll quit whining now. This happens constantly. I just thought stupidly that maybe it wouldn't...or at least for awhile.

Anyway, it's probably more than just not being able to paint, ya know? It always is. So...I guess I have to get back to work on being less "reactive".

Blah. Thanks though!

on Thursday, January 5th, Elise said

Oh, hi Kasia, you must have just posted while I was!

I know you're right, don't you just ever wish that the feeling of ever-lasting power would last just a tiny bit longer...or that you could summon it up if you *really* needed to?

on Thursday, January 5th,">rob said


i hate that. i usually get it when i am lookign at another artists work.

you need better music. stop listening to bauhaus and put on some...some...some...shit all good art music is depressing in some way or another.

i read somehwere that when it strikes that is the time to do art related paperwork. i think it means the tank is empty and it is time to refill the art juice-take a hike-watch a horror movie-read a sci-fi novel or comic books-anything but art related paperwork, anything to get rid of that self-doubt.

you do good work. trust yourself.

on Thursday, January 5th, Elise said

Hey Rob, good luck with your "collectors only" reception tonight.

Thanks btw, that's a brilliant idea. I can use this time to get caught up on paperwork and the website and blah blah blah stuff. I know the joo joo will return, it's just so damn frustrating when I seem to have absolutely no control over my own work process. It just seems to come and go in a completely arbitrary way.

This book I'm reading talks a lot about not making excuses and taking responsibility for our actions and I want to believe that it's possible so, this seems kindof like a failure of that principle to me but maybe I am just making excuses.

Even though I don't have any enthusiasm for my work at the moment, maybe I need to just pick up the brush and force myself, even if it's all shit or I ruin everything I've started up until now. I think I'd actually prefer that to this horrible feeling of emptiness.

It's no longer an issue of having a whole heart vs. a hole *in* the heart, it's an issue of feeling heartless, ie. sans heart.

on Thursday, January 5th, Kasia said

Yes, It would be REALLY great - to have a magic wand and be powerful always.... but on the other hand we wouldn't be able to appreciate those precious moments when we are kings of our lives! :)

on Thursday, January 5th, Elise said

I don't know Kasia, I think I'd still be able to appreciate it if I was always in control, but maybe that's what gives people big heads (if you're not familiar with that saying, it means...a big ego).

I think I'm in no danger of that happening!

on Thursday, January 5th, ann said

Remember when you were SO productive in the last few months? That was an incredible time, and it will happen again. Personally, I think mosts things in life come with a rhythm... creativity is one of those things.

So sorry you are feeling empty. There aren't words to fill that emptiness, but I will say that I'm rooting for you. And I believe in you.

on Thursday, January 5th, Elise said

Thanks Ann, I know you're right. I hate to seem like such a cry baby. I can't even tell you how many times I've gone through this *exact* same thing...over and over and over again. It's just, exhausting and frustrating and makes me feel like I haven't really changed or improved at all despite my best efforts.

I know I sound like a broken record, I was just sooooo happy in November. Why can't it be November again?

And why can't I be happy just because I'm not painting?

Anyway, thanks for rooting for me. I'm rooting for you too!

on Thursday, January 5th, Joan said

Reading today's entry, I realized while you have made a conscious decision to not pursue "dating" and seem to have quite a time with some socilizing, I think you have your painting as your significant other and best friends group. And lo and behold, you have times of conflict with "them" as I do as well - with my spouse and family. Interesting.

Hang in there, because it will all come around again. It always does.

on Thursday, January 5th, Raymond said

"It's just, exhausting and frustrating and makes me feel like I haven't really changed or improved at all despite my best efforts."

I think I understand this feeling well. For me, there are times when looking over my work and considering the time and effort involved, the thing that comes foremost to my mind is how small, how inconsequential the results seem. I'm not saying this is exactly what you're feeling, just that I thought I saw something familiar in your words.

I have heard two schools of thought regarding those times when the work just won't come. Some people believe in forcing the issue and others who think it's necessary to accept those quiet, empty times and just ride them out.
Which ever way you choose I wish you the best.

on Thursday, January 5th, Elise said

Hi Joan! Wow, did you make it into O'Neill at all over Christmas? I wish we could have gotten together, I totally spaced it. I got to see Annie and Bea but they were both only back for a couple days...

Anyway, I really like your theory...I think you're 100% right, I love looking at it that is my significant other and right now it's leaving the toilet seat up.
But just like you're relationship with your husband, I know we're in it for the long haul.

And Raymond, that is exactly what I'm feeling. I have tried both ways...forcing it and riding it out. The problem is, sometime it takes a reaaaaaally long time if I just ride it out, cuz the further away from my work habits I get the harder it is to start up again, ya know. So, I think this time I'll force it.

What's the worst that can happen right?