Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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Thursday, January 31st

The Story of How we Met (then I swear I'll *move on*)

As promised:

Some of you may remember back in May of 2006 when I had the show “From on High” at the Two Crow Studio and Gallery. The owners were out of town and I was watching the gallery on the weekends for them. So Aaron came in to check out the show and we were the only two people in the gallery so we got to talking.

We had a nice long talk and he mentioned that he was on his way to the Juneau Yacht Association’s Boat Safety Show.

E: Do you own a boat?

A: Yes, a sailboat.

E: Really? Me too, what kind is yours?

A: A Catalina 22

E: Mine too!

Turns out we had nearly identical boats on the same float in Douglas Harbor only a few slips away from each other. He actually lived about 2 or 3 blocks away. He had actually grown up with Rob Roys (the gallery owner and a good friend of mine).

He took one of my business cards and later started calling me to come help him on his boat. He had only recently purchased the boat and was learning how to fix it up and how to sail. Funny thing is that I wrote about him. In the first post where I mention him by name I said this:

“Yesterday I got a call from Rod, whom I love and who always makes me laugh and right after we hung up the phone rang again and I thought it was him so I actually answered (GASP!) but it was Aaron who I met at the gallery awhile back (with the same boat who lives up the street). He’s called several times but you know me and the whole weird phone phobia thing but in this case I accidentally picked up and he asked me to come down to the docks, I said I would try even though in my mind I was thinking I probably wouldn't.”

Then I write about meeting with a guy who bought a painting and continued with…

“Then, wad of sold painting cash in hand and feeling fresh confidence in myself, I decided to go down to the docks after all. I don’t know if you have ever met someone whom you instantly felt like old friends with but that’s how I feel with Aaron, totally comfortable. He is such a funny, laid back and friendly guy, he showed me some real MacGyver tricks for my boat and then asked if I'd like to take his boat "Opportunity" (I shit you not!) out with him. Again, my first impulse was NO! But I thought, what the hell...and it ended up being a perfect sail. Sitting there in the boat, waterfalls on either side of us, the sound of the wind and the waves, I kept wondering: how did I get so lucky?”

“But luck wasn't so much a part of it, I could have sat home all day, not answered the phone being a hermitish blob like usual...I guess my whole point is even if your life feels predictable or you feel lonely or empty, just remember that you have the power to change things... that in a year (or a month or day) from now you could be somewhere new, with smile the size of Alaska on your face. As the banner on Granny Gets a Vibrator reads: It’s never too late!”

Truer words were never spoken!

Of course, Aaron and I didn’t start dating right away and I can honestly say that I had no interest in dating at all back then and from how he tells it, he wasn’t interested in me like that either. We became friends though, and at first we just went sailing or out for drinks afterwards and sometimes we talked on the phone….but we weren’t dating. We went to candle light dinners for two, driving up at Juneau’s look out point, and for walks on the beach…but we were just friends. Just Friends has been my plight *a lot* in life. This time, somewhere along the line, I hoped things would be different. And one night we went to a party at a neighbors house and afterwards he said “tonight it kind of felt like we were a couple” and I said “it did”. And he said “how do you feel about that?” and then we kissed.

Ah….then we started dating…that was about 5 months after we first met. Sometimes the best things in life take time.

May I also add (at the risk of making Rob BARF) that I'm still wondering how I got to be so lucky!

Elise on 01.31.08 @ 04:33 PM AK [link]

Tuesday, January 29th

Happiness, is a warm gun

Yesterday morning was the first day of the new year to reserve park shelters for the summer. Aaron and I took a thermos of hot coffee and stood out in front of City Hall at 7:20am so we could be first in line to get the shelters at Sandy Beach for July 19th (our wedding day!).

It was beautiful outside. The moon was enormous and we got to watch it set behind a mountain ridge. All of the trees were in silhouette against the moon and it reminded me of the movie ET. It was very romantic. (the moon, not ET).

Later, on my drive to work, the sunrise was equally impressive, I found myself smiling like a crazy person. Then on the news tonight I heard this report:

"Happiness is a U-shaped curve according to this research. As middle-age approaches the average person will slide down the U to hit rock bottom at the age of 44.

He says there was a remarkable uniformity in the findings which applied to men, women, single and married people, with or without children, and to the rich and the poor."

So, I have that to look forward to, just a few years down the road.

I guess the reasoning is that you start life out with lots of expectations "And you discover as you go through your 30s and don't achieve them and that's a painful realization." Could it be true? Is there anyone out there who can confirm this from personal experience (i.e. that 44 is happiness rock bottom?)

Happiness has always intrigued and often eluded me. A study at the University of California showed that we're all born with a happiness "set point". 50% of our happiness is determined by our genes at birth! Then 40% by our intentional activities...and the only a measly 10% is actually determined by life events.

So, I'm not sure what is causing me to feel such a warm glow lately, but waiting with my honey to secure our wedding locale in 2 degree weather while drinking hot coffee and watching the moon set over a snowy Alaskan mountain range...well, that couldn't have hurt.

Elise on 01.29.08 @ 10:08 PM AK [link]

Sunday, January 27th

Stuck on the Inside

Southeast Alaska gets *a lot* of precipitation. One of my first presents from Aaron was a squeegee for wiping off all of the condensation inside my car. When it gets cold, it also means scraping ice off the outside *and* the inside of all the windows.

Another problem it creates is frozen locks. Most people don't lock their cars when it gets below freezing, but sometimes they'll freeze up whether they're locked or not. At other times I'll be able to get the door pulled open, but then it won't close shut again until the car heats up for 15-20 minutes. Usually I end up driving half way out to the University holding a bungee chord to keep the passenger side door closed.

Yesterday when I went down to the gallery to check out the space with the gallery director I was sitting in the parking lot unable to open either of the doors. Both were frozen closed with me inside. A couple of teenage girls walked by and I pounded on the windshield and gestured for them to come over.

They exchanged worried glances and kept moving forward but I pointed frantically to my door handle making a "lifting up" gesture and gave them my biggest and least threatening smile. Slowly they approached my car as though I might jump out at them with a chloroform soaked rag at any second.

I yelled out that I was frozen in my car and could they pull on the door handle from the outside. The braver of the two came over and gave it a sharp yank and it opened. I said "the locks froze" and she gave me a big smile and said "Oh" in perfect understanding.

I'm curious, does this kind of thing happen in other parts of the world?

Elise on 01.27.08 @ 09:08 PM AK [link]

Saturday, January 26th

Juneau on Youtube

Today my friend Julie forwarded me a funny video about Juneau called Town vs. Valley. See, the City and Borough of Juneau is devided into two voting districts that fall along a political and geographic devide.

Downtown Juneau also includes Douglas Island (where I live) and usually votes Democratic. The Valley is about 11 or 12 miles away down a scenic highway. It is the equivalent of the "burbs" and they usually vote Republican. That is the backdrop for this video but anyone interested in what it looks like here might enjoy it as well. If you wait until after the credits, there's a guy standing in front of the Douglas Cafe and Louis's bar. Our house is the two story brown one in the background.

Here's a video filmed in Juneau on the day the record for the snowiest winter on record was set (last year). The video quality is very poor, so you might want use the "shrink" button in the lower right hand corner of the video to make it a little smaller as it makes it easier to view. It was filmed from a fire truck!

One last video, this is pretty incredible, a surfer getting caught in a wave created by a calving glacier.


I am off to visit the gallery director at The Canvas gallery to go over my plans for the show in July. Then on to Chinese dinner with friends followed by Sweeny Todd. Rob gives it two razor blades up!

Elise on 01.26.08 @ 12:58 PM AK [link]

Friday, January 25th

Spaz much?

So, as promised I am now starting to blog again on a daily basis. That means coming up with things to write about everyday. Anyone who has kept a blog for...oh, six years or so, knows that eventually you run out of new insights.

Still, I can talk about my ideas for the show at the The Canvas Community Art Studio and Gallery.

The Canvas is an invaluable resource for artists and the community. Founded in 2006 as the community outreach and day habilitation program for REACH, an independent, nonprofit organization serving people who experience disabilities since 1970, The Canvas has become a vital presence in Juneau and Southeast.

It is an excellent place to show work but it's also an opportunity to work with REACH clients in the collaborative process.

I wanted this upcoming exhibit to be more experimental (I've been saying I want to be more experimental for years now) and this non-profit space provides the perfect opportunity to do just that. My idea is to paint a rather open scene (like an empty field with a big sky) on a canvas about 30"x40". Then I'm going to do a series of smaller images (notecard sized) using various mediums and exploring different subject matter.

These smaller pieces will be digitized and projected as a slide show onto the larger canvas. Each image will change the overall mood and feeling of the painting and show all the various possibilities that artists explore each time they sit down to a blank canvas.

I'm going to take it a step further by working with the reach clients to create their own visions for that space, digitize their work and have it alternate between my own images.

As many of you know, sometimes it's the smaller thumbnail sized pieces that have the most energy to them. If any of my own smaller works turn out particularly well, I'm going to use them to paint slightly bigger versions to hang in the rest of the gallery.

That is my idea anyway. I've spoken with the organizers at The Canvas and they are excited about the project. It will be one where sales are not the primary goal (and I have to admit I worry far too much about sales).

So...this opening will be in early July. That's right, July. The same month when Aaron and I plan to get married. But no worries, I work best under pressure!

Of course, I didn't do so well tonight when his mom called and I was practically hyperventilating on the phone telling her about all my (er hem..."our") plans for the wedding. I have to admit that I'm getting really excited about it. There's still a chance we'll have to wait until *next* summer, but I hope that isn't the case. Wheels are in motion my friends!!!

btw, it has been snowing here all day. Beautiful fluffy white snow. We are projected to get a foot of it today and tonight. Tomorrow i will take photos!

Also, this is a picture of the beach where we plan to get married:

douglas-island-pump-house2 (29k image)

Isn't it lovely?

Elise on 01.25.08 @ 10:01 PM AK [link]

Thursday, January 24th

When Hell Freezes Over!

Tonight I had dinner with my good friend and faithful blog reader, Maren. She confessed "you know Elise, I don't even read your blog anymore"...yikes. I know, it has been pretty lame lately.

As of right now I'm going to post every single day for the next several weeks. Why? Well, first of all I've really missed blogging. Secondly, I've been asked to write an article on blogging for Art Calendar(the business magazine for visual artists) and I've been consistently breaking the cardinal rule of often!

I'm very excited about writing the article. An editor emailed me and said he admired my art and blog and asked if I would consider writing an article (up to 900 words) about how to write a compelling blog. I jumped at the chance!

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Art Calendar is an excellent national magazine that caters primarily to professional artists. I used to be a subscriber for years and years until I let my subscription run out recently along with a lot of other business related stuff I've let slide.

And why have I been letting things slide so much? Well, for one thing...I'm in love.

Which leads me to some HUGE news... I'M GETTING MARRIED!!!!

My friend Sean nicely sums up the reaction I've had so far from friends and family:

"Is this why it was so cold down here finally? Did hell finally freeze over?!".

Hell freezing over (48k image)

Yes Sean, Hell is freezing over! And I couldn't be more excited about it. Here's how it went down:
Sat. night Aaron and Rob and I went to see the monster movie Cloverfield (loved it!). At about 5am I could tell that Aaron was lying in bed awake. We got to talking and he mentioned that the movie had disturbed him. I said "at least they had each other in the end and could say how much they loved each other". Then I told him that I'd stick with him to the very end and he said "really?, then would you like to marry me?". And I said "YES". And it was all very sweet and cuddly and I told him that now Cloverfield would be our movie and we'd have to watch it every year on our anniversary. Then we fell back to sleep and I had to ask him in the morning if we were engaged and he said that we were.

so.... YEAH!

Now, this brings up all kinds of identiy issues. I think it was Degas who said something like "there is work and there is love, I have but one heart"...something like that. I fear that love has filled up that hole in my heart...the one that wakes us up in the middle of the night to paint...or sculpt, or write.

Since I was a little girl I equated love and marriage to the death of myself as a serious artist. I know on some level that that's crap. I know all kinds of successful married artists...but it's something I worry about. I've always kind of seen myself as an outsider...someone not interested in taking the road most traveled, walking to the beat of my own drum and all that. But getting married is such a conventional thing to do. It's not something I've ever wanted for myself, and yet here I am, engaged and deliriously happy.

I told Rob that our song is "Dream a Little Dream" the Louis Armstrong version and he responded:

"BARF" Where's the woman who painted this?

Angry (48k image)

Where indeed? And is that a bad thing?

Well, I shouldn't write everything in one monster post, I have to save something for tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. Speaking of which, I've dug out my digital camera and I'm going to start taking some photos again. Also, I have a pretty cool idea for my upcoming exhibit at the Canvas Gallery, but I'll save that for tomorrow.

Time to go look through my wedding planner!

PS. I didn't realize that the comments weren't working. The problem has been fixed now.

Elise on 01.24.08 @ 08:05 PM AK [link]

Wednesday, January 16th

Back in action

OK, my recent downtime has not *entirely* been my fault.

First, they upgraded my web server and the site was inaccessible for several days. Next I was unable to get to my blog because the upgrade broke the software somehow. I had to submit a work order and it’s finally back in action today.

So, here are some updates:

1. I started a new painting. It’s not great but I needed to put paint to canvas and I am doing that.

2. My sweetie is taking a welding class which means I have the house to myself for 5 hours at a time, two nights a week. I’m looking forward to getting a lot of new work started. I have some ideas but they’re still pretty hazy.

3. My back is getting much better. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

4. I’ve started a “Goals Club” with two other friends. We keep written long and short term goals and meet the first Sat. of the month for brunch and to talk about how we are progressing in various parts of our lives. So far this month I’m not doing so well.

5. I saw one of my artist friends last night and had a competition over who had recently been a bigger slacker. I won!

6. It has been snowing a lot lately. I haven’t been able to ski or snow shoe because of my back but it’s still beautiful and makes me feel snuggly inside.

7. Our bars are all smoke-free now! I know it’s controversial and a bunch of people hate the new laws, but I am very allergic to smoke and can’t go anywhere it’s allowed without getting sick. So, for me a whole new host of drinking and pool shooting opportunities have arisen. Yeah!

8. I am spending *a lot* of time following the 2008 Presidential Race. For us political junkies, this is HIGH THEATER. Writer's strike? What writer's strike?

9. Aaron and I bought a webcam (Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000) and we LOVE it. So far we've only been able to talk to my sister Kelly in TX and my sister Jenny in Anchorage, (and their children) but it has been a lot of fun and makes me feel much closer to them. We use Windows live Messenger for video conferencing. If you have a webcam and want to add me as a contact, send me an email.


To anyone who has sent me an email or posted a comment on this blog in the past month or so that I have not responded to. I’ve been getting a lot of email and simultaneously not spending a lot of time online. I feel a bit overwhelmed just answering the emails I get from my family and close friends. I *do* read and enjoy your emails, I *always* have good intentions to write back, but it doesn’t always happen. So, I’m sorry.

Elise on 01.16.08 @ 11:58 AM AK [link]