Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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Thursday, February 28th


i just spent an hour writing a funny post on my teeny tiny asus eee laptop from a hotel room in frosty Fairbanks Alaska. I went to hit send and it went away. what a drag.

Elise on 02.28.08 @ 10:31 PM AK [link]

Wednesday, February 27th

Reflections on living alone

Back in 2005, I wrote a post titled Dangers of too Much Leesee Time where I confessed that after three years of living alone, I'd found myself talking to the food in my refrigerator.

That's what I was reminded of after reading through this hilarious comic strip (thanks Sean!) called Garfield Minus Garfield.

"Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life?

Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let's laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against lonliness and methamphetamine addiction in a quiet American suburb." (btw, as a librarian I am honor bound to mention this strip is an obvious copyright view it fast before it's gone)

Now, I was never a fan of Garfield, and I'm not a fan of comic strips in general...but reading through these had me laughing out loud and some of them hit a little too closely to home. Of course, I'm not living alone anymore but I still identify myself internally as a single person. I'm guessing that will go away eventually?

If you do check them out (and you really should), let me know which one you liked the best. I think my favorite was the one where he says "I'm an empty grocery sack", or..."How about giving me a BIG SMILE!". Oh...I also love "You forgot my birthday".

avalanche-scale (11k image)

Elise on 02.27.08 @ 10:49 AM AK [link]

Tuesday, February 26th

Go to your cell!

One thing I hate about cell phones is that you can't even tell for sure anymore who the lunatics are. I was standing next to this tall, "eccentric" looking guy in the hallway of the University this afternoon and he was mumbling loudly about something while waving his arms around...and I had no idea if he had a Bluetooth and was just excited about tomorrow night's Project Runway or if he was a homicidal maniac.

People with ear buds or headphones for their cell phones should be required to wear a sign that says "I'm not dangerous, I'm just talking on my cell phone". Of course, if they're driving, then they really are dangerous.

By the way, coincidentally I helped a student this afternoon who was researching the dangers of cell phone radiation. There were several studies linking them to cancer and other illnesses, but one article I found (from a scholarly journal) actually linked them to male infertility!

Does anyone remember that Keanu Reeves movie Johnny Mnemonic where everyone in the future is plagued by some central nervous system disease called "The Black Shakes".

(from Wikipedia) "Neural Attenuation Syndrome (NAS) is a fictional disease in the film...NAS, also called "the black shakes", is caused by an overexposure to electromagnetic radiation from omnipresent technological devices, and is presented as a raging epidemic affecting the world in the future."

That movie came out 13 years ago and seemed pretty far fetched at the time. We just got a new wireless router this weekend and around 10 other signals are usually present whenever we go to connect. Our entire campus has been a hot spot for at least 6 or 7 years. I can't help that but I can at least hold out against getting a cell phone.

Addendum: What's the most personal thing you've ever overheard someone say in a public place on their cell phone?

Elise on 02.26.08 @ 11:10 PM AK [link]

Monday, February 25th

Your Mission, Should you Choose to Accept It!

Oh my, someone emailed me and asked me if my blog has a “mission statement”. Funny timing because I just came out of a 4 hour reaccreditation meeting for the university where I work, and everything relates back to our mission statement.

It got me thinking though, hmmmm, if my site had a mission statement, what would it be?

The truth is, I’ve never thought about it. How about: “Don’t be evil”.

Oh what, that’s already taken. And also, it’s more of a slogan than a Mission Statement.

Anyway, I have no clue. Any suggestions? (extra credit points if it's in the form of a haiku)

Elise on 02.25.08 @ 04:58 PM AK [link]

Friday, February 22nd

Foggy Bottoms

I received an email from Philip Tobias yesterday who wrote a great little article called How to Buy Cheap Art on Art Blogs. Of course, I'm biased because he wrote the following about me:

" Elise Tomlinson is a visual artist and writer from Douglas Island, Alaska. She has a strong interest in painting whimsical, colorful nudes and landscapes. She is also an expert photographer. Her use of color is absolutely breathtaking. Elise also makes spooky ceramics. She blogs about life, her inspirations, and life in Alaska. Make sure to browse Elise Tomlinson's many galleries."

Very very cool! Thanks Philip!

I really needed the boost...This week has been a really tough one for me. I started having an arthritis flare up on Sat. and it lasted all the way through to yesterday. That is a pretty long time, especially since it affected my right side, including my arm, shoulder, and neck. Not being able to move pretty much ruled out painting (or blogging for that matter).

I get so demoralized by my health issues which seem to be never ending. I am finally seeing a Dietician/Nutritionist and she seems to think the majority of my woes can be fixed from dietary changes. After she develops a plan for me, I’ll most likely have to do some kind of cleanse followed by slow integration of various foods back into my diet. I’m *not* looking forward to it.

However, she thinks that once I eliminate these foods from my diet I should not have these inflammation problems which means I can paint (and work out) regularly without pain. That might be worth giving up pizza, beer, and ice cream for. Well, maybe...

Here in Juneau we have a rare combination of low hanging fog and sunshine. This makes everything feel like you're walking "into the light" so to speak. It's pretty in a very unnatural way that's making me feel a bit of irrational exuberance.

Happy weekend everyone!

Elise on 02.22.08 @ 01:20 PM AK [link]

Monday, February 18th

Have an Average Day

There is a brief but uplifting article in the Utne Reader titledHave an Average Day. This man was looking for clues on how to prevent suicidal behavior in teens by reading their suicide notes and he came to believe that:

"...the enemy of happiness is the curse of exceptionailty. When everyone is trying to be exceptional, nearly everyone fails because the exceptional becomes commonplace, and those few who do succeed feel isolated and estranged from their peers. We’re left with a world in which a few people feel envied, misunderstood, and alone, while thousands of others feel like failures for not being good, special, rich, or happy enough."

He goes on to talk about how real happiness is derived from the common pleasures of an average day. I agree wholeheartedly with the premis of this article. I used to feel a lot of pressure to succeed at all costs. I always thought from a very early age that I was going to be very famous one day and everyday that went by without that happening, I felt more and more terrible. I'm happy to say I haven't felt that in a long time. Maybe because I appreciate all the things I wouldn't have if my early dreams of fame and fortune were a reality.

For one thing, a sweetie who who made me this cute little cloud of hearts using a plasma cutter in his welding class (since he was in class all night on Valentines Day).

steel-hearts (12k image)

The article also had a side bar that talked about all the things you could accomplish in a year if you only put in an average amount of effort on a daily basis (Mon-Fri). It was pretty impressive! I think in some ways the article is what encouraged me to start painting again this weekend. The knowledge that I could just paint, even if the work was going to be average. It would still be better than not painting at all. Wouldn't you agree?

Elise on 02.18.08 @ 10:47 AM AK [link]

Friday, February 15th

Mountain Photo Experiments

I've been really facinated lately with the contrast between sky and white mountain tops at dusk. Here are two images I've been playing around with.

mountain-contrast (34k image)

mountain-sunlight (25k image)

Elise on 02.15.08 @ 05:32 PM AK [link]

Thursday, February 14th

Imitation is the highest form of...? Plus...Haiku Madness!

Yesterday a reader in Martha’s Vineyard sent me a link to the work of pastel artist Teresa McCue who does landscapes in a somewhat similar style as mine. I loved them but a few were *very* similar to what I've been picturing lately for my new show and some are very close to photos of the wetlands here that I was planning on painting.

And that's one of the dangers of looking at other people's art. It can give you "ideas" but if you already wanted to work a certain way and then you see someone else is already doing it…well, if you do it anyway, where's that line between what is your own and what is someone else's vision? Know what I mean?

If you’d never seen the other artist’s work, there would be no danger of appropriation…and yet we need to see other artists work in order to stimulate our own imaginations. Am I wrong?

Oh, someone just delivered a dozen (13 actually) long stem red roses to me from Aaron! They are absolutely gorgeous, similar to the ones he got me last year only these came in a big red vase with a pretty heart design on the front and different accent flowers. I told him not to send me any this year to save money, but who am I kidding? Everyone *loves* to get a big bouquet of flowers delivered at I right?

So, in honor of Valentines Day (a holiday I can finally celebrate without bitterness), I'm writing 3 Haiku's, Japanese verse that follows (more or less) a 5 7 5 pattern of syllables.

Part I:

Glow-in-the-dark stars
Shine fake illumination
on a life alone

Part II:

Early sunlight beams
through heavy gilded curtains
Morning comes too soon

Part III:

Splendid afternoons
holding hands through snowy fields
kisses that melt ice

Please feel free to post some of your own!

Elise on 02.14.08 @ 03:05 PM AK [link]

Wednesday, February 13th

Chocolate for the Eyes...

Yesterday I had a conversation with a male friend about an attractive young woman he likes who is dating a “jerk”. He went into the whole diatribe about how good looking women never give “nice guys” a chance and always end up with men who are either rich assholes or muscle-bound jocks. One of those: “Why won’t they give a regular guy a chance?” kind of questions.

This argument is one that drives me (non-hot woman) insane. I see these “nice guys” who are regular looking and sometimes downright unattractive, chasing after women who are much younger and better looking than they are…even when there are an abundance of less attractive women their own age who would be more than happy to go out with them.

They won’t give these average looking women a chance, and yet they expect these exceptionally beautiful women to look past their surface deficiencies to their superior inner qualities…when they themselves are unwilling to do that.

I’m sick of the whole “men are more visually stimulated” argument, or how older men with younger women is only natural, harking back to hunter gather days. Wake up folks! We don’t live in caves anymore!

Being an artist, however, I am intimately aware of the power of youth and beauty. I railed against this poor guy and yet the vast majority of my own depictions of women are of youth and beauty. Why? Because even I find those qualities aesthetically pleasing. But what we choose to paint and who we choose to share our lives with, are not the same thing. Of course, I think my honey is a hotty (he is!) but I did not choose him for his looks, nor did he choose me for mine (trust me!).

It reminded me yet again of the woman at my last opening who asked me with an incredulous tone in her voice, why I chose to paint “thin” women, the implication being that I was obviously NOT thin and therefore should be painting overweight women.

I’m also reminded of a line in The Tao of Steve, where the main protagonist (Dex) is asked “Would you ever date a fat girl?” and he responds “No, I'm the worst kind of fatist, a fat fatist.”


Elise on 02.13.08 @ 11:07 AM AK [link]

Monday, February 11th

On the importance of listening carefully!

So, I have been inspired by an old photograph of mine that has low mountains and a lot of sky. I had this idea for new paintings awhile back that had mostly sky with just thinn strips of land at the bottom but I never did anything with them.

So, I’m going to start (so I work on *something*) doing this moody painting of snow covered mountains with a big sky the color right before a tornado (one I photoshoped). That way, I’ll at least be painting while I think up what the hell to do next for this show.

I found all of these old photographs I took of two friends who modeled for me awhile back. Some of them are quite nice and I may want to do something with them as well.

Plus I am still transfixed by the image in my head of a drive home from work where the sky was a purple-ish blue and the wetlands were a golden orange color…it was so intense, I love those two colors together.

So, back to the “fear of landscapes” concern, I’ve decided to not worry about it for awhile. To just paint and see what happens. And also, to look at art, both older stuff that I’ve done and new stuff that’s out there…nothing like looking at art to get the old juices flowing again.

This weekend I went to the Juneau Art and Humanities Council’s Wearable Arts fashion show and it was fun as usual. Every year I volunteer so I can see the show for free (and help out to boot) and every year I think “next year I’ll enter my own creation”…well, this year I was inspired to do a dress using Chinese paper lanterns. I got the idea from looking at wedding decorations.

I told Aaron about it last night he was trying to be supportive but I could tell he wasn’t into the idea…I kept describing it and was drawing him pictures of this big dress with a hoop skirt threaded with internally lit paper lanterns and the model had a big paper lantern hat and was carrying a paper parasol, and he kept saying, well, I can see what you’re getting at but I just don’t know...and I didn’t understand why he wasn’t complimenting me for my genius concept like I expected…and it turns out he mis-heard me and thought I was describing what I wanted for my *wedding* dress! It was so funny, I couldn’t stop laughing…picturing how I'd look in that get-up at a casual beach wedding. Too funny!

Elise on 02.11.08 @ 05:38 PM AK [link]

Saturday, February 9th

Asus eee

After a year and a half of "sharing" a single computer, Aaron and I finally decided to get a second one but most were way out of our price range. All we really needed it for was to surf the web etc. So, after quite a bit of research we got the Asus eee which just arrived today. It's a very small wireless laptop that only weighs two pounds! It's about the size and weight of a hardcover book; It's SO cute! Runs on Linux and boots up super fast, has a flash drive so no internal fans, the battery lasts 3.5 hours, and it only costs $400.00.

The keyboard is small and is taking some getting used to, but other than that, I LOVE it. It comes with quite a few programs pre-installed. All we had to do was plug in the battery, than plug in the power cord, then turn it on. It was all set to go and connected to the internet right away. It comes with a built in web cam though we need to tweak it a bit to get it to work with Skype.

Anyway, it had excellent reviews and for the money, I think you just can't beat it if you want a super light laptop.

In personal news, I stopped by JoAnn's fabric today and they were having a 50% off sale so I bought 20 yards of this gorgeous fabric (like in the photo, only ivory) to make table cloths for the picnic tables at our beach wedding. I think our colors are going to be sort of light amber and ivory, though I haven't checked with A yet. He's been pretty cool about my ideas so far. I'm having a lot more fun planning this than I thought I would...I feel like I'm turning into such a girly girl, now I'm shopping for paper lanterns and tea lights...Oh well...

We're having another major snow storm and Aaron is out plowing. He got our snowshoes and sleds out of storage today and I want to go and play tomorrow, though I will also have to go back down to shovel the boats off again but I still love the snow.

I've been having a productive weekend though I'm not painting and that always bothers me. I have an 18"x24" canvas right to the left of my computer that I stare at all day everyday but nothing is coming to me yet. I guess (as usual) I just have to get started. Maybe having a wedding and opening in the same month wasn't such a bright idea after all?

btw, if anyone wants to share money saving tips from their weddings, I'm all ears!

Elise on 02.09.08 @ 09:09 PM AK [link]

Wednesday, February 6th

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?

Elise on 02.06.08 @ 06:17 PM AK [link]

Tuesday, February 5th

Super Duper Tuesday - GET OUT AND VOTE/CAUCUS!

Well, it's Super Tuesday and boy am I pumped. Being an Alaskan resident, I've never had a voice in selecting a presidential nominee before. I can't wait!

In other news, I emailed the final draft of my article on blogging back to the editor at Art Calendar this morning. The article is close to 800 words long and they are also going to include my photo and some photos of my work! How frickin cool is that?

I also recieved an email yesterday from a small gallery in downtown Anchorage asking me if I'd be interested in having a show with them for their First Friday at some point in the future. November was the latest date they still had available and that would be pushing it for me after an opening (and wedding) in July! Still, I'm tempted to do it. It would mean shipping work to Anchorage and flying up for the opening but I haven't had a show in Anchorage since I was a student.

Also, this morning a reader in Massachusetts pointed out to me that my honey was in our local paper this morning. I really admire him, he's such an activist on community issues.

Ooops, running late for work...more to come...


Elise on 02.05.08 @ 08:43 AM AK [link]

Monday, February 4th

I finally went down to our boats this morning and cleaned all of the snow off of them. I only had a tiny red shovel to do it with but it went in, I didn't slip and plunge to my death beneath the icy waters.

sailboat-snow-shovel-douglas-harbor-rozinante (68k image)

On the way out, I noticed an eagle flying overhead and I followed it to where it landed and got a couple of nice shots.

eagle-landing-douglas-harbor-alaska (98k image)

eagle-landing-douglas-harbor-alaska2 (93k image)

It's still snowing, by the way. I wanted to ski down to the boats, or wear snowshoes, but I couldn't find them. It depressed me to realize that they're still in storage from the summer. It's February and I haven't been out yet. Mostly because of my back injury but that's getting better so I can't use it as an excuse forever.

Elise on 02.04.08 @ 02:42 PM AK [link]

Sunday, February 3rd

Manna from Heaven (or...DC actually)

On saturday I got a check for $500 in the mail! A friend of mine had borrowed the money around 7 years ago and had never paid it back. Quite frankly, I had written it off, assuming I'd never get it back (I think if you loan friends or family money it has to be in that spirit).

However, there it was...after all this time.

So I spent a lot of time this weekend time shopping online at PMC supply stores. I bought a ton of stuff, silver clay, a firing torch, a mold kit for firing rings so they don't shrink too much, clay tools, all kinds of stuff. And when the dust settled I still had $100 left to spare. It's more than enough equipment to make our rings (plus a lot of other pieces) and way cheaper (and more meaningful) than just buying rings (imo).

I also went and saw There Will Be Blood....all I can say is Holy Crap! That movie was intense and Daniel Day Lewis better get best actor! The soundtrack was a bit much, honestly I wanted to tear my hair out from it a couple of times but I think it was supposed to have that effect.

It's still snowing out, it's been snowing all weekend. I meant to get out there to stomp around in it but it never happened. Some weekends I'm full of good intentions to be healthy and get outside and be productive (like I still haven't been down to clean the snow off of our boats and Aaron's been working all weekend)...lazy lazy me...when it's snowing out, don't you find snuggling up on the couch with a hot coffee just too too wonderful to bear?

Elise on 02.03.08 @ 11:26 PM AK [link]

Saturday, February 2nd

PMC = My Latest Obsession

OH MAW GAWD! I have found a new love. Precious Metal Clay. After I graduated with my BFA in printmaking, I quit the 2-D stuff for years and only worked in clay. The second I squished it through my fingers, I was hooked. I couldn't think of anything else. Carving into leather hard clay, there's nothing like it...and I'm good at it. So, why did I stop?

Well, I went off to grad school in Hawaii for library and information science. I've always been practical and the fear of homelessness has prevented me from wholeheartedly pursuing an artist's life. After grad school came the job in Juneau, and I just never got back into it. Have any of you had anything like that? Something you felt soooo passionate for at one point in your life, that you let just fall by the way side because something else took up the space?

Every 6 months or so I go to's ceramics section at about 2am when I can't sleep and I fill up my cart with about $3000 worth of ceramics supplies. A wheel, kiln, clay, materials for glazes, the whole nine yards. Then I go to sleep and in the morning I remember how impractical that is. How there's no money, no room, and I remember how sitting at the wheel hurts my I just let it go again.

But then over the holiday break Aaron and I started researching jewlery making. I love hand made silver jewelry and I've always wanted to try and make some myself. Of course, I only knew about lost wax casting which is complicated and requires a lot of equipment. I realized after a few Google searches that it would probably never happen.

Then Aaron discovered Precious Metal's basically either silver or gold dust that's bound together with water and an organic binder. It looks and feels just like clay. And when you fire it, the organic binder disappears and you're left with 99.99% pure silver! I bought the book The Art of Metal Clay that came with a DVD. Aaron is really into it too because we're going to make eachother's wedding rings. Today I bought some clay, a firing torch, a firing brick, and a ring mandrel (used for sizing rings).

It's going to be so much fun. There's a category on eBay for loose gemstones and you can buy just about anything. I bought some small turquoise cabochons (they're actually only 10mm by 10mm). I like the one in the upper left hand corner...I may ask Aaron to use that one for my wedding ring, only shaped more into a rectangle.

turquoise (7k image)

I don't have the PMC yet so I'm going to take care of some business today. I'm finishing up the article for Art Calendar, starting a new painting for the show in July, and finishing packaging up three paintings I need to get mailed ASAP! I'm also starting work on a new commission (so I'm not taking any new ones for awhile).

It's beautiful here today, tons upton tons of fluffy white snow, perfect for skiing or snowshoeing. It's hard to be inside on a day like today but I've got work to do. I took this photo yesterday and since then it's snowed an additional 6 inches. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

parking-lot-alaskan-trees (100k image)

Elise on 02.02.08 @ 12:45 PM AK [link]