Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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03/28/2006: "No such thing as “failure”?"

Stephanie commented in my last entry that maybe today *is* the right time (to start thinking positively). Maybe the worse things get the more we need to be constructive in our thinking about world issues, the same as with our own inner struggles.

For example, I started thinking about my “failure” this weekend. I had such high hopes…I was going to loosen up, experiment, paint without so much thinking and planning, just respond to the moment. I prepared 10 panels, piled up all my paints, various mediums, cleaned brushes, put down a drop cloth…

I went and saw a show at Rob’s gallery and he gave me some advice about acrylics and when I left I had so many ideas in my head of all the cool things I was going to try. Adding modeling paste to the surface, drawing over the paint, maybe adding collage elements, the sky was the limit.

I came home, and sat for a long time in front of the blank panel. Then, I opened PhotoShop and spent the rest of the day working on thumbnails. In the end I came up with 6 new compositions, all planned out and ready to paint, and started painting 3 of them. But what I took away was that I had failed in all the goals I had for the weekend. I didn’t do 10 paintings, I didn’t “paint without a net” I didn’t experiment or get crazy. I worked “exactly” the same as I always do... I felt so let-down.

But maybe I just wasn’t looking at it the right way. I mean, I did spend the entire weekend making art, I thought about ideas, I played with color and composition and came away with new potential themes. That isn’t the definition of “failure”. Maybe I didn’t accomplish what I thought I would, but sometimes we accomplish more in our failures than in our successes.

Oh, and I'm not sure why google has quit indexing my FAQ About Living in Alaska.

Replies: 11 Comments

on Tuesday, March 28th, Howard said

Hey you started three new paintings that's hardly a failure. Maybe you need to try completly different mediums like say paper and pastels or drawing . Something you don't think of as "painting".

on Tuesday, March 28th, RR said

Or how about some sculpture using soft wire and tissue paper? Or plaster? Very messy but great fun. I don't think you failed this weekend. I just think you achieved different goals than you set out to and that can be just as rewarding.

on Tuesday, March 28th, said

Hmmm...something other than painting?

As a freeing up exercise that might be a good, I just worry that I get caught up in things. I might start working that way and then just keep doing that and let the painting slide. It's one of my biggest downsides as an artist, my inability to concentrate in a particular medium, so I dabble in a lot but I want to (for awhile anyway) become excellent in just one!

Does that make sense?

on Tuesday, March 28th, Judy Vars said

Hooray, your weekend was a total success afterall. :laugh: :D

on Tuesday, March 28th, Elise said

Well, maybe calling it a "total success" is a bit of a stretch, but not as bad as I'd originally felt, to be sure.

on Tuesday, March 28th, berry bowman connell said

OK, then, I got a suggestion fer ya, but, don't take it as me telling ya. Only, that it's a way I do sometimes, only, I didn't realize that it was supposed to follow some schedual.
(I dunno what to call it)

So, what I do is wander around a few construction sites for some scrap lumber, or, I go buy a sheet fairly cheap.
If I buy, then I go the extra step and reinforce, but, that's something altogether different.
Anyway, I'll cut the board up into a couple of 2' x 3' s and a few 16" x 20" or, 20" x 24" or whatever I feel for the time.
Acrlics are fun, and for sure, sometimes expensive. I prefer wall paints for a few reasons...
They cover over each other (different colors) fairly easily.
After painting with wall paints, you've the choice of whether to continue, and either with acrylics or oils. I suppose now would be a good time to state that when I use wall paints they are premium paints, and actually colored primers.
Anyway, basically it's a board. A chunk of lumber that can be burned for heat if it doesn't pan out.
The treat is, hey. There's nothing to stop yer unhindered creativity from flowing out onto the board...
No hard white gesso,
no thoughts of how much it costs,.
no consideration for how other folks percieve the works.

And, to tell the truth, I have burned paintings for heat....
Hey, if I don't want to hang it on my wall, why would I think anyone else would, either? So, those pieces get the saw and the special station by the wood burner.

Dang! Did I do it again? Can't I cme here and give a short comment like other folks? No.
If only I were a writer! I'de be rich!
They DO get paid by the word, don't they?

on Tuesday, March 28th, Elise said

I enjoy your long rambles Berry!

Thanks for the idea, actually, I just use pre-primed panel, so it's not so much an issue of cost or official-ness or arything...I just can't seem to work without having a plan first, without knowing what I want first.

Whether it be a sketch onto a piece of garbage, a painting on a hunk of wood, or toilett paper over wires...I like to know what's it's going to be ahead of time.

It probably seems pretty boring to you I suppose!

on Wednesday, March 29th, Jackie said

E: Hey - I'd say it's still a positive if you worked on 3 paintings over the weekend! SOmetimes I get mad at myself, cuz I say okay - this is my day off, and I'm getting in at least 6 hours in the shop. Then I think "but it's so cozy and comfy here in my soft chair in the sitting area - I'm close to my pot of coffee, and I can listen to music and look at magazines or books..." Or I get lured off on errands, or something. Then, the day is over, and I haven't accomplished much. By Sunday, I feel frantic, as I have this show and commitment to finish 15 new masks by June 1 looming over my head.

I've never been tempted to destroy a piece of artwork though. SOme I've not finished, but they go into a box in the cupboard, to rummage through and maybe cannibalize for something else later. And Barry: please don't burn treated or painted wood! It's HORRIBLE for the environment, and your lungs especially - since you are in closest proximity! I don't know where you live - but most of the states (except Alaska) have bans on burning such things. Even paper (like wrapping paper, or old love letters/bills) is not good to burn. :rolleyes:

on Wednesday, March 29th, Elise said

Is there any way you can set up your studio so that you can work on your masks from your comfy chair near your coffee pot and where you can take little breaks and read your magazines etc?

You know, I used to have an off site sudio, I thought it would help, but I find I work A LOT more surround by all the creature comforts of home where I can just pick up and start working for a few minutes or a few hours, without leaving the comfort of my living room.

Also, thanks for the info about burning wood. I hadn't thought of that but you're right!

on Thursday, March 30th, Jackie said

E: Ummm...nope - messy sawdust and stuff all over the sitting area would not be cool! Besides, my partner's a Minimalist, and I'm more of a clutter-bug, so we have had to compromise quite a bit already. At least all I have to do is walk downstairs and enter the garage to be in my studio!
I'd never get anything done if my studio was not in or at my home. My sister is lucky - she has a separate building, custom-build, that is right next to their house. But they live in Kodiak. She has a gorgeous view of the Channel from her studio - and home, too!

on Thursday, March 30th, Elise said

I remember what your studio looks like, maybe the messy stuff you could do out there and then bring it inside for more of the finishing touches?

Anyway, your sister sounds like she has it made. Kodiak is so freakin beautiful, and having a seperate building on the property would be ideal, though I must stay I'm pretty partial to my studio/living room!