Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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09/08/2007: "Big Night"

Anyone see the heartbreakingly good movie Big Night? The tagline goes "A failing Italian restaurant run by two brothers gambles on one special night to try to save the business."

Spoiler Alert

That's kind of what last night reminded me of. OK, there were no major catastrophes; everyone at Annie Kaill's was fantastic. They provided the food and wine and hung the show. And there was a HUGE turnout. The only two photos used to announce the First Friday art openings in the local paper were *both* mine and Annie Kaill's paid for a popup-ad for the show on the homepage of the online version of the paper.

A ton of people from the University where I work showed up, the amount of support from my friends and colleagues was very impressive.

Did I mention my good friend Rod (who posts on this blog from time to time) a former roommate from Anchorage who lives in Tucson now, surprised me by flying in for one day for the show. That was really cool. He took a photo of one of the paintings on his cell phone and mailed it to his mom who phoned back right away that she wanted to buy it. YEAH!

One of the first people at the opening was a former student of mine who purchased the Bed of Ferns (woman with flowers in her blue hair) painting...I was excited, things seemed to off to an excellent start, four paintings sold by the actual start of the show...but then...that was it. Nothing else sold all night long.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not all about sales. I got a lot of positive feedback from people including a young aspiring artist who asked me to autograph one of my business cards!

But at the end of the day it was such a let down. I guess if none of the paintings had sold early and then 4 sold during the opening I might feel better about it, it's all about expectations. These pieces are smaller and more affordable; I had an expectation (I'll admit it) that more would sale.

This is the first time I've had pieces displayed salon style, one on top of the other on one small wall. Some of the pieces were hung well below eye, closer to thigh level. I feel like the pieces didn't have enough room to breath on their own.

But, that wasn't the gallery's fault, they only had so much room for First Friday artists. And I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity, a lot of people got to see my paintings and all my business cards got taken (I print images from the show on them)...and I had printed *a lot* of them.

So, you know. It was good...but a gallery that's also a gift store is a different environment for me. I'm used to it being all about me and my work on opening night. A lot of people just glanced at the work and went on to look at ceramic bowls, jewelry, or gift cards. So, it was weird. And there was another artist who had a better spot and some people seemed to come in, check out her show and then wander off to look throughout the rest of the store.


It's always a little deflating after a show. All that hard work and after the gallery's commission I'll be lucky to break even.

The good news...rather than taking away a "why bother" attitude from the night, I feel more inspired to paint than ever. I'm already working on plans for my next show (in July 2008) and how to make it even better.

And one of the best things about this show was that it got me painting again, and taught me that I can have a healthy relationship and still be an artist. So, I guess I shouldn't be such a whiner, right?

elise-annie-kaills-opening-sep07 (294k image)

Replies: 25 Comments

on Saturday, September 8th,">rob roys said

Every time I looked over there was a crowd around your work and not the other artist's work.

Also every time I looked over you were there pimping your work with a group of people standing around you.

Remember this was a first show at one of the best places in Juneau to have a show. If they are happy you should be happy...

on Saturday, September 8th, Elise said

So Rob, do you think "they" are happy? I mean, I couldn't tell. I think they had expectations that more would sell. I feel like I let them down.

on Saturday, September 8th, dad said

Don't worry hon,cream always rises to the top time will tell,as in all career. some day someone will probably take one of your pantingto the antique road show then some art expert will curteak (sic ) if its old enought to stand the test of time you should feel proud, I KNOW i AM. SEE YOU'ALL XMASS.

on Saturday, September 8th, dad said

Don't worry hon,cream always rises to the top time will tell,as in all career. some day someone will probably take one of your pantingto the antique road show then some art expert will curteak (sic ) if its old enought to stand the test of time you should feel proud, I KNOW i AM. SEE YOU'ALL XMASS.

on Saturday, September 8th, dad said

sorry about the double click :D

on Sunday, September 9th, berry connell said

Impressive group, gal.
If I wasn't a starvin' artist m'self, Ide come look in person and tell ya that....
But, I still can't afford any of them.

Favorites are; at the bottom left corner are three paintings


and my favorites were A & C

So, let me see if my misery will help perk you up a bit.
Third event of TC Steele that I've been to, did a 11x14 picture of a tree throwing out a long curled branch....
Four tries at a "prize" hit none.


Yeah, I don't do this because I want prizes...
although they would help in creating sales...
I don't paint to make money (obviously, as any artist will tell you)

but, dang!
It sure would be nice to come out on top once and a while....

Well, at least you have the beautiful works to look at and enjoy.

on Sunday, September 9th, Howard said

Congrats on the show and the sales Elise! That post show blues is pretty common for a lot of people, so try not to dwell on it too much and keep on painting.

on Sunday, September 9th, dad said

nice nickless local craftmanship? :P

on Monday, September 10th,">julie b said

I loved your show! I wasn't able to make it Friday night, but I went in to look on Satuday and was really impressed... I was blown away by the top, 2nd from left, it is beautiful. That and the bottom, 3rd from left were my favorites.

I sounds like it was an extreme success. Four sold is wonderful! :D

on Tuesday, September 11th, Kasia said

Your show seems to have been really amazing. And I love the photo! :) Taking the painting back home? Oh, what a pleasure it must be!!!:)

on Tuesday, September 11th, Dorothea said

I would try not to worry about people who passed by your art this time. We all have different tastes, and can be attracted to different things at different times. Variety is the spice of life! Does your art not hang in their gallery for a little while? I bet you will get more sales if it does. :rolleyes:

on Tuesday, September 11th, Annie said

Your paintings look so vibrant and beautiful!
They seem to glow. And look how your necklace matches them. I wish I could fly down to Juneau and see the show in person!

on Tuesday, September 11th,">Traci said

I'm so proud of you! I can't imagine how nerve-racking it must be to display your work for the world to see. I'd be a wreck! I think selling 4 paintings is great! KUDOS! I wish so badly that I could have flown up for the show! I've been thinking of you a lot! BTW, you look fabulous!! Love you!

on Tuesday, September 11th,">Traci said

I loved the paintings too! Which ones did you sell? I think they are all lovely! My favorite is the larger painting of the redhead...can I pretend I look like that from the back?? ha and the blue bodied female. Great Job!

on Wednesday, September 12th, Bethany said

Hi! I stumbled across your blog and thought you might want to participate in an interactive illustration project I'm working on. Check it out here:

on Wednesday, September 12th, holly said

Brava! What a nice collection that is. It sounds like a wonderful evening.

I'm craving a brunette with a ginger tomcat in a field of sunflowers...

on Wednesday, September 12th, tasha said

Lincoln and I had a wonderful time seeing your work last Friday. I turned off my torch and made the trip over the bridge just to see your work. A color feast for the eyes.
I think being disappointed after a show is natural. We are connected to what we create…. like they are good friends or children (or maybe in your case a blue bodied lover!) Disappointment can become fuel for the fire. Take pleasure in your artistic misery, I think it's just part of the deal.

on Friday, September 14th, Judy Vars said

You should be happy!
I know this lady that had a sold out show. While that must feel awesome, it's because her work is so commercial. She cuts salmon, bears, ravens and other Alaska things out of tin and puts it together with glass beads and willow. I love it, but it's still blatantly commercial. Thats the moral highground I take when people don't line up to buy my art work.
and hey tastes change quickly, personally I love the blue hair and lavender buns. Keep with your passion.
Judy Vars

on Friday, September 14th, Desiree said

Hey ! I'm Famous! Thanks for mentioning me in your blog, its a first for me. ;) You 're silly, everybody I overheard walking by ,loved your stuff. (I mean they seriously gushed.) I know I do. Last time you complained the gallery was too small, you goober. Do you know what else I love? I REALLY LOVE when you go to the printers (hint, hint) and I'm looking forward to seeing the summer show. You're awesome ,baby! :) :) :) :)

on Monday, September 17th, berry connell said

So, amid your travails
I realized I needed
to paint more, also.

And so, leaving the blog behind
and leaving its face, too,
I went about the business
of painting.

Tried roses.
Didn't fair very well,
did them again.
and again...

and again...

Got one decent painting out of five, but
I still ain't happy with it at all.

Just not delicate enough, y'know....

Did a dozen landscapes,
most of which are OK, but, that danged rose!

I'm just gonna have
to go back home
and do it again.

(posted them on m'blog,
but, yer probably
"wiped" from the show,
which, from my view,
is a success
so, don't just rush right over.....

Wait till I tell ya I
painted a rose
I'm happy with.

on Tuesday, September 18th, Elise said

Thanks everyone for all the positive messages. Sorry I've been so incommunicado lately, taking a bit of a break I guess.

But THANKS! I need/love/appreciate the encouragement!

Hi Howard, wow, it's been awahile. Post show blues...yes indeed...but it's getting better.

And Hi Holly! Long long time, I've been wondering what you've been up to...must visit your blog.

and Desiree, thanks again for the purchase...I will be going to the printers very very soon, I promise!

Berry, I checked out your roses and wow, you've been painting up a storm over there, you really put me to shame in a big way. Keep it up!

on Sunday, September 23rd, berry connell said

You want to hear a real
sad story? Read m'blog today.
I didn't know I could BE that stupid :cry:

on Sunday, September 23rd, Joan said


My vicarious life is running low on oxygen!! What are you doing? Your show looked great - per photo. The autumn is coming in beautifully around here - Indian Summer for sure. We had a great afternoon/evening at Greeley - Irish Festival - with amazing Irish music and brew. The kids and I were dancing and it was magical. That was yesterday and tomorrow we head back to life. Margaret is looking forward to Homecoming week at school. Clark is heading back to college and Gage to day care at Rachel's. There, a bit of a ketchup (:)) for you. Now how about you?

Peace to you.

on Wednesday, September 26th, Elise said

Hey Berry, what happened on your blog. I went over there and it just looked like some ads and I couldn't find any of your entries, just a comment that I left and some by some other folks.


on Wednesday, September 26th, Elise said

oh, and hi Joan, I missed your comment somehow. Sounds like you had a wonderful time in Greeley...I miss ONeill on St. Patty's.