Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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04/27/2006: "Hurry Hurry Hurry, Everything Must Go!"

It's a art *show*, not a sales event. After the exhibit (which isn't until next Friday) I'll be asked by many people "how many paintings did you sell". This question is OK if you sold a lot, but makes for a very awkward exchange if you didn't sell any.

I want people to attend for one reason only, because they want to see the paintings. Period. The space is small so there won't be a lot of food and wine, and I don't want friends and co-workers to feel like they *have* to come out of guilt etc.

I paint because I love to do it more than anything else in my life, and I want people to see the results of all that hard work. To see why I couldn't go to the movies, or out for drinks...and I know some people absolutely love the work but just canít afford to buy. So how do we gage success then? By the number of people who attend? By the number of complimentary comments in the guest book?

Iíve decided to look at this as a success alreadyÖbecause I accomplished what I set out to do. I took (nearly) a year off from exhibiting and continued to work hard everyday at putting together a body of work that represents the best that I can do. And best of all, Iíve been given the chance to share the work with people who enjoy art. That, my friends, is what itís all about; no more whining and feeling sorry for myself!!!

Replies: 10 Comments

on Thursday, April 27th, holly said

OK, a question. What do you do with your pieces that don't sell in a show. Do you exhibit them again? Do you tweak or alter them in some way or are they finished once they're exhibited and that's the high point of their little painted lives? Because if they sell, they're out of your hands-- there is no chance for you to go back and change anything. I've just always wondered that, because I'm the type of person who is never satisfied with my efforts. If it's around me, I have to pick at it and mess with it until it becomes an obsession.

(And I still hope you sell a metric buttload of paintings. :satisfied: )

on Thursday, April 27th, Elise said

Hey Holly,
a couple of us discussed that awhile ago. Some thought it was more important to not to muck with pieces much after they've been exhibited, I guess to keep a record for yourself of how you have progressed/changed as an artist over time. I have been tempted, some I hate so much now...but I rarely touch a canvas after it has been in a show.

Of course, I have sold paintings (through my website) years and years after they were originally exhibited. So, you never know. I personally hate dragging home unsold paintings but there are time with certain painting I like a lot, where I feel a little sorry to see them go.


I get obsessed too, but after the cathartic release of a show, I feel I can let it go a bit better.

Do you have any photos of your creations? I remember that awesome garden you had last summer!

on Thursday, April 27th, holly said

Somewhere I have some shots of the painted and gilded initial I did for the Lilly LIbrary's collection (and every time I look at it I want to change something). I'll have to find those shots. During my web hiatus, I was experimenting with collage and decoupage on little steamer trunks and wooden boxes for...BPAL storage. They are quite lovely, and when I get back and have some time I'm going to try selling some of them. I'm definitely a "crafty" person rather than an "arty" person when it comes to making stuff myself. I don't have the artist's spark...just the angst.

on Thursday, April 27th, Elise said

You're the last person I'd say lacked "artist's spark"...I'd love to see the little BPAL storage trunks, how coool. Of course you need something special to keep them in because each is such a little piece of art in and of itself!

on Friday, April 28th, Kasia said

It must be hard...
But I think it is a huge success already. Look -you are known in Poland! not only by me, but by my friends, too! Some time ago I had this great discussion with my friend about your paintings and we both agreed that Art makes sense. And even my boyfriend (he is an anti art man) says your pictures are really "cool".

on Friday, April 28th, Rob Roys said

how do you say "cool" in Polish?

(not the temperature, but the slang for excellent or wonderful.)

on Friday, April 28th, Elise said

Hi Kasia, your comments make me feel great! This morning I was looking at the paintings all scattered about my house and felt so down for some reason.

I spent hours working on a painting last night that just wasnt' working in my mind and I think (but I'm not sure) that I made it worse. The fact that I'm not sure is what really bothers me. Putting work out there for others to see and comment on makes me feel so much anxiety and self-doubt.

But then I remember when I was very young, I used to say all the time that if even one of my paintings made a single person really *feel* something, I would have accomplished what every artist dreams of: to make a difference even if it's only on a microscopic scale.
Oh, and you should make another audio post and teach Rob and I how to say "cool" in Polish!

I loved your description of "dresy" in your last post!

on Saturday, April 29th, Kasia said

"Cool" in Polish = "zajebisty" or "spoko". Maybe I'll make an audio post. :)

on Saturday, April 29th, berry bowman connell said

OK, well, now I really feel like a "sell out" cause I sold almost two thousand dollars worth at the show.
But, dang! It's different for me right now. I understand what ya mean by how to measure success when folks look at something they like even though can't afford the same. On the other hand, a gal talked me into half-pricing something at the show, which I did because, well, it's what I do for a living...anyway, later I found out she's a lawyer.
Fer crying out loud! A LAWYER!
And, taken in context with what ya said about folks not being able to afford a thing but liking it anyway, it really doesn't speak well for me to have sold something for half price to someone who probably drives a Porsche as a second car.

Maybe I can rationalize it with this: The more folks who buy m'shtuff means more folks (their friends and what-not) will be able to see it?
I'de rather teach, but, being short of a degree in teaching, I'm left with offering lessons at one of the local art centers.
As for what din't sell last night, a few pieces didn't sell precisely because of their high price and my refusal to drop for those few pieces. I had turned a "corner" just recently and fully realize that the value of five of the show last night made the grade of what I call real art. Two of them sold. If none had sold (of that group,) I would have been OK with it. I would have brought them home and hung them there.
As for the rest of them, I'm taknig a different not always appreciated by some artists. I'll be pricing them at, like, $95 or some such ridiculously low price and poke them around restaraunts, bars, whatever.

The bottom line? I had pride. Now, I have bills and for that, I gotta get $. Dang. Reckon there was no fineline about how being an artist was supposed to be a successful endeavor.
At least. before we die, eh?

on Saturday, April 29th, Elise said

Hi Kasia, I think I like "spoko" best because I don't think I could pronounce the first one!

An audio post would be excellent!


Don't ever let anyone call you a sell-out just because people love and buy your work! art doesn't have to be ugly to be meaningful, and as long as you're being true to yourself and what you love to paint, then it's "real" art.

I'm so happy that your show was such a smashing success. It's hard to have to make the decision of pricing your work for what it's worth when it means there is a higher likelyhood it will go unsold, but way to stick to your guns.

And as for the lawyer...that is just pathetic. I would be so angry if I were you! Just make a note next to her name and never give her another deal, ever!

Anyway, congratulations again, you must be flying high!