Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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03/23/2006: "Hey Everybody... LOOK AT *ME*!!!!"

I forgot to mention that my free copy of Living the Artist’s Life by Paul Dorrell arrived last week. So far I’ve been reading it a little at a time but I like the author’s voice and I recognize a lot of what he’s saying as true, for me anyway.

Here are some of my favorite headers from Chapter Two:
Depression: The Artist’s Malaise
Neurosis: The Artist’s Badge
Are you selfish?

“Are you selfish? You’d better be: I hate to say it, but you’ll need that fault for awhile. This common but ugly trait, along with your ego, will help sustain you through your initial years of struggle.” Initial years of struggle hmmm, how long are they supposed to last? At times it seems geared towards students just graduating from art school, but the advice is still relevant.

The section titled: Conformists vs. Nonconformists talked about being an outsider. I had this flashback to my first semester in the dorms. All the dorms rooms faced a grassy quad and I remember looking out there during a “get to know you” day, and people were introducing themselves, starting up games of hackie sack and frisbee etc. They all seemed so confident and self-assured and I felt terrified and alone.

It seemed like there were exciting things always going on, parties and impromptu camping trips, and I wasn’t included in any of it. It wasn’t until a few months later, when I met some artists, writers, and musicians, that I felt like, AHA!...this is what “fitting in” feels like! It was effortless and beautiful and I still have those friendships today, stronger than ever.

He also talks about how hard work and drive pay off more in the long run than natural born talent and how drugs and alcohol will only weaken you as an artist, not increase your creativity. “…what will you accomplish in the course of your deterioration? Very little, either for yourself or for the society whose attention you’re trying to gain. And yes, we all do it partly for attention. Sure, we do it for passion and the inspiration…but attention is one of our primary motives, so you may as well go ahead and admit it…”

Oh, and there's a great article in today's Juneau Empire about a local art collector who spends his Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend every year on funky Alaskan art. His most recent acquisition is one made from an actual deer leg and a ceramic high heel! It's on display at Two Crows Gallery (owned by our very own Rob Roys) by artist Rachael Juzeler. It's a great article, you may need to register to read it.

juneau-from-douglas-island (117k image)

Replies: 8 Comments

on Thursday, March 23rd, marja-leena said

Yup, it all sounds true! I can really identify with the feeling of not belonging until you meet other artists. Being selfish though is pretty tough if you choose a marriage and family, so it's a big balancing act. I was rather depressed to read this, though you are still too young for these thoughts:

on Thursday, March 23rd, Elise said

Hey Marja-leena, thanks for the link. I just went and read it (I'm on my lunch break) and it was very thought provoking and sad. And I'm not at all too young for these thoughts! I've been having them in some form or another since I was 12!

It just occured to me that I don't have a will. Maybe I should do one of those, I've never said who should get my unfinished, unsold work after I'm gone and since I have no husband or children I should probably spell that out.

on Thursday, March 23rd, Jackie said

E: I got my copy of the free book too! But I haven't started reading it yet. Just sorta leafed through it.
I guess I've always kinda felt like an 'outsider' myself. I never knew why - I mean I don't think I conciously thought about it. I have always been an 'individualist' though. My nickname in highschool was "LumberJackie" cus I wore red suspenders and plaid Woolrich shirts, and a tweed newsboy cap. I was in Drama and Russian and Art club. College wasn't a whole lot better - even in the art classes I took, I felt like an Outsider.

What do you mean you have no children? What about your cats? (though I'm sure you will outlive them by many, many years). :(

on Thursday, March 23rd, Elise said

I love the name LumberJackie!

As for my "kitties", I'm not sure I can leave them my art, as they wouldn't know what to do with it! Though I suppose I could ask for whomever I leave them to to auction everything off and use the money to make sure Osiris and Lemoni can stay together and someone will look after them.

As for being an Outsider, maybe some of us will always feel that way...that doesn't mean we can't find people we connect with, right?

on Friday, March 24th, greg said

Now I know what they were up to when they offered that book free to artist bloggers! :P

Elise - I'm not much past where you are and felt like the auther was a 'part of me' writing all that. I felt such a connection with his writing ... and it's so wonderfully concise, and honest! I already feel like I could trust the rest of what he says.

Gawd I loathed the pretension I felt from others in the Art dept. in college! Some of the teachers deserved it, but I see now - like Dorrrel says - it masks insecurity in some, and marks others as the 'dilettantes.'

Jackie you gotta read it!

I cant decide if I should just plow through it in a day, or organize it around all the other things I got going on - ?

on Friday, March 24th, Elise said

Hey Greg, I felt the same way when I started reading it, he doesn't use that official sort of fake polished language that a lot of these types of books use. I can't remember the line exactly but fairly early on he said something like "that's cool, but..."

I just like that he talks like the rest of us and has such a good understanding of the good, the bad and the ugly.

I agree with Greg Jackie, don't let the book get shoved to the side for too long, I think you'll really enjoy it. I'm keeping mine on my night stand and plan to read a chapter or so every night.

on Friday, March 24th, greg said

yes, I saw one "freaking" and a few "bloody" this 'n thats. This is probably just the stuff they are scanning our blogs for! :D

on Friday, March 24th, Elise said

Well, normally when you comp copies of something to "the press" (whoo hoo!) the reason they do it is because they're confident their product is good and that (in this case, we the bloggers) will create good buzz.

In this case, I happen to think the book really is excellent, so, it's not like we're being dishonest or anything.