Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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02/06/2008: "Identity Crisis...OR...Would you like Landscapes with that?"


So, the editor at Art Calendar seems happy with the article I wrote for them on blogging which is a *huge* relief. They are going to publish it in the May issue (stay tuned...) along with a head shot of me, a very brief bio, and 2 images of my work.

They typically don't publish nudes and seem to have a preference for my landscapes. I told the editor that I don't see myself as a landscape artist and that two landscapes by me doesn't seem very representative of my "style". He was very gracious and said it's fine if I want to show one figurative piece and one landscape. That would be excellent. I'm going to look through the high resolution files I keep on my external hard drive tonight and see what I can find...

The only problem is...this brief email exchange has gotten me thinking...why do I resist the straight up "landscape" genre so vehemently? I don't think there's anything wrong with landscapes and in fact, I absolutely love the ones done by fellow Juneau artist Constance Baltuck Hartle (who is pictured at her opening at the Canvas Gallery which is where I'll be having my next show).

I don't know why this distinction is so important to me. It seems silly, and in fact I've been trying to move away from the typical themes I've been exploring for so long so...what's the problem then? In Alaska there are so many painters doing landscapes and wildlife because that's what the tourists like and because it sells (and because they enjoy it too I'm sure). Deep down I would LOVE to paint landscapes but I hold myself back and I can't help but wonder if it's a form of snobbery on my part?

Again, I feel a bit of a drama queen to even make an issue of this but there it is. The truth is that I feel incredibly happy that my article is going to be published along with a couple of my works. I should leave it at that.

In other news, I have agreed to do the December Gallery Walk exhibit at the new "Babes in the Wood" gallery in downtown Anchorage (In the 4th Ave Marketplace). The gallery primarily is a place for Alaskan women to exhibit and it's owned and operated by two women artists. Rob thinks I'm becoming a sexist!

They only charge a 20% commission and take care of food and drinks and all the PR stuff for the opening. How cool is that? It's unheard of for downtown Anchorage, I can tell you that. I am slightly anxious to add one more thing to my plate. I've decided that I'm not taking on any more shows or commissions until I finish up the obligations I've already committed to. I do feel good about that.

Now...where did I put those brushes?


Replies: 6 Comments

on Thursday, February 7th, Sarita said

Hi Elise! I've been lurking here for quite awhile and never really felt the need to leave a comment...until now. Regarding you lack of desire to paint landscapes, I say this. I am of the belief that you should always paint from your heart, paint what moves you and makes your spirit sing. If landscapes don't do this for you, then don't sell out. In the long run you'll end up dissappointed in yourself. Be true to yourself always...:) If on the other hand, its all about making money, which I understand, then you should definately try your hand at landscapes now and again. Personally, I think your figurative paintings are stunning. The shine with an inner 'something' that makes me smile. That tells me that you enjoy doing what your doing....and that is a good thing! Someday, I hope to be able to afford one of your paintings myself, but as a 'starving artist' I'm afraid I don't see it happening real soon. Good luck with your work, and stay true to your heart...in the end its what matters...:)
Blessings..xx

on Thursday, February 7th, Daniel North said

I guess my question would be why does a "serious" art periodical have a typical standard of not publishing nudes? Sorry to come off snarky after lurking for so long since posting my last comments... but I have always enjoyed both your writing and your "nudes" and have never held much regard for the articles or opinions in Art Calendar. Who knows... maybe you'll class-up the joint.

on Thursday, February 7th, thor@robroys.com">Rob Roys said

Hey now, I was teasing about the "sexist" thing! I just find it unusual to have a gallery being "woman only." I certainly know there is a huge bias towards women artists in general, but I have always thought that in Alaska it is more of a non-issue. In my dogmatic opinion, most art consumers are women, and there does not seem to be a lack of women being shown.

Most contemporary collections in Alaska, and the cutting edge galleries, seem to fairly represent women artists is Alaska. (Bunnell Street in Homer, IGCA, and Artique are all run by women) I just really have not seen a good reason for a "Women Only" gallery. It just seems silly in Alaska. Even the mediums that many consider traditional women's mediums: weaving, beading, quilting, in addition to being highly respected, are generously shown and collected statewide.

When I ran my little gallery, I made an extra effort to show women, which I think is critical. I think excluding all male artists implies that there is something dreadfully wrong that needs to be corrected by that exclusion. I just donít think that is the case.

on Friday, February 8th, Elise said

Hi Sarita! Thanks for your comment...the reason why I would love to paint landscapes isn't because of the money or wanting to sell more paintings it's just that on some level, I like them. Maybe not ones done in a very traditional manner, but there is room for showing a unique vision for a traditional subject matter. I guess I can stay true to my heart in the execution of whatever subject matter I choose. I just don't want to feel guilty about it, like I'm "selling out" because that's how it would be viewed by some people I'm sure. Anyway, thanks for weighing in and for reading!

Daniel...hey there! Thanks for your 2 cent's worth. Thanks for saying you enjoy my nudes and my writing. It's funny because I don't consider myself a "writer" and I'm not really, but still... thanks! As for Art Calendar, my taste is different from the art they normally publish but I think they have helpful articles about the business side of being an artist, which is their whole focus and the part of being an artist that I need the most help with! I am very pleased to be included, particularly because I consider myself to be quite the "nobody" on a larger scale.
:blush:
And Rob...I knew you were teasing!

As for the gallery, I'm not going to knock a gift horse in the mouth but I see your point.

Women's work is "undervalued" in terms of the subjective nature of pricing, but it's not under-represented. I don't know for a fact that they won't be showing any art by men, I just noticed that all of the artists on their calendar for the upcoming year were women, maybe they want to start out that way and it will progress over time, not really sure but again, just happy to asked!
;)

on Saturday, February 9th, berry connell (boneman) said

Well, first off, there's no end to some of my friends saying to me, 'you don't even HAVE to say "this may sound weird, but..." because we all know it's gonna be weird...'

So, with that in mind, and reminding you that one of my favorite books was Walking on Alligators, a book about writing which I rave about even today ( I read it three years ago, and again yesterday)

In the Smithsonian (I'm cutting to the chase, because I tend to ramble, sometimes) Magazine, which we keep in the bathroom for when things don't, er...move fast enough...

Anyway, there's an article about Steve Martin and it touches on what you're saying here. Well, not comedy, of course, but, the idea of being dropt into some category or other.
He had heard of the comedy "formula" being where someone says a story that builds tension, then releases it for the laugh. The punchline, so to speak.
He thought for a bit (years) and came up with a different concept...
How about if the person just kept building the tension without ever giving a release (punchline) but just kept moving on as if everything was normal and that if the audience wasn't laughing, it was because they didn't get it YET. Meanwhile, moving from topic to topic and letting the audience laugh at what they wanted to laugh at giving no more than an anti-climax.
Somehow it was all very condusive to painting more.

GOD! I may be broke, but, I LOVE PAINTING FOR A LIVING!

on Saturday, February 9th, Elise said

Well, you're lucky you can do it for a living! As for the Steve Martin analogy, I'm not sure I understand it exactly but it sounds good!
:hehe:
Keep painting, you are an inspiration!