Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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Tuesday, March 30th


Tonight I spent hours looking at cabins and acreage in remote parts of Southeast Alaska. Aaron and I plan to save up to buy either a cabin with a couple acres of land, or just the land (and build later).

Today on "Listen Alaska" the topic was sustainable community agriculture in Alaska. People all over the state are doing innovative things to increase the growing season and crop yields. I have dreams of a someday having a lifestyle similar to my in-laws...a cabin with a large garden, root cellar, composting toilet, solar panels, etc. It won't happen for awhile, I love my job at the University, but someday.

Hopefully we'd be close to the water. We'd have a skiff, sea kayaks, and our small sailboat. We'd go fishing for salmon, can wild berries, and spend too much time reading. Aaron could have a wood shop and I could have room for a studio. sigh. That is the dream.

Elise on 03.30.10 @ 09:57 PM AK [link]

Monday, March 29th

Tax Time - An artist reflects on the state of their business

Every year around this time I'm forced to acknowledge the often grim realities of how very far away I am from making a living as an artist. When I tally up all the money I've spent on paint, brushes, canvas, frames etc. and compare it to my cut of sales (after the galleries take their 40% commission) I realize that I'm not breaking even, let alone making a livable profit.

My accountant mentions the dreaded "hobbies" word every now and again, it's how the IRS differentiates between people who are making serious efforts towards their art careers and those who simply have an enjoyable past time. The second group of folks aren't able to write off "business" expenses.

How can I prove I'm a *real* artist, if making money is the only indication of seriousness, or success?

Year 2009 in Artistic Review:

I had 2 solo art exhibits and sold 9 originals plus a large commissioned painting.

I had prints available at my shows for the first time ever and sold quite a few of them (by my standards!) I currently have reproduction prints available online and in two stores in Juneau.

One of my images was chosen for the cover of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council's program cover (used for all their events for an entire year).

I spend (on average) about 15-20 hours a week working either in my studio, in PhotoShop, or taking photos for new paintings (plus countless hours thinking about what I want to paint...which is *real* work...believe me!).

There are a few other recent positive developments. For one thing, one of my paintings was accepted for publication in this year's Tidal Echoes, the "literary and artistic voice of Southeast Alaska" (according to artist Ray Troll).

I also just got a call this morning from one of our English creative writing professors, Ernestine Hayes, (author of the award winning Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir about collaborating with her on a new course she's developing for the fall called "Ekphrastic Writing" which entails creative writing students writing responses to visual art (including mine).

Plus I have another show coming up in June and I've been putting in a lot of time on it. I started two new paintings over the weekend, one of them I'm *really* excited about.

So why do the “numbers” alone make me feel so deflated?

Elise on 03.29.10 @ 12:11 PM AK [link]

Monday, March 22nd

Wasted Time?

The past week I started 7 new paintings and probably did 20 new compositions in PhotoShop. Still...I didn't do any painting over the weekend and my first instinct was to feel guilty about that. To look at everything I *should* have been doing, and beat myself up for not being productive enough...but then I *decided* to change my attitude...because the weather was absolutely gorgeous here in Juneau and it would have been sinful to stay indoors!

Instead Aaron, Noah and I went for a walk on Sandy Beach and later for a hike out to the waterfall near Mendenhall Glacier and built cairns out of large flat rocks. Sat. night Aaron and I went to a friend's birthday party that was held at a local art studio/gallery where we made a large collage of/for the birthday boy.

Sunday we went skiing. It was THE most gorgeous day at Eaglecrest. I mean, pure blue sky, sunny, warm but not too warm. It was great skiing. Aaron and Noah hiked the ridge which is beyond my skills/desire so while I waited for them to finish (a half hour after the lifts had stopped) I sat in the sun reading a great book Juliet Naked that dealt with themes of regret, wasted time, and apathy. The characters all felt stuck, unproductive, and like their best years were behind them...which had been wasted to boot!

The book was funny but I have to admit that I couldn't relate at all. I sat in the parking lot with the sun on my face watching all these happy skiers returning to their vehicles, sun tanned, rosy cheeked...laughing. You can't be in a bad mood or filled with regret on a day like that...spent skiing. No way!

And when Aaron and Noah got back we took our little Zipfy Freestyle Mini Luge out for a spin. It was SO much fun, the snow was fast and we took turns riding it from near the top of the bunny hill down around the side of the lodge to the base of the lower lift. Wheeeeeeeeeee! Afterward, it was dinner at the Hangar with a view of the Gastineau Channel. Last weekend we saw eagles fishing right outside the window of our booth...they'd lung into the water and come up with little fish in their talons that they'd immediately eat.

After dinner we walked along the boardwalk, commenting on the spring like weather and how we'd have to get the sails up on our sailboat soon.

Last night, muscles sore for a hard day's use, I took a long hot bath and then Aaron game me a wonderful massage, I finished my book, and then slept like a baby.

I remember all the times I felt hopeless, like life would never get better...that I'd always be sad, alone, and in serious debt. Well, it wasn't that long ago really. I realize that what I have today could all be taken away tomorrow-I'm always on the look out for the Zombie Apocalypse after all...but for today, I'm going to "suck the marrow" they say.

Elise on 03.22.10 @ 11:37 AM AK [link]

Wednesday, March 17th

Forgive or forget

Today I realized that I'd forgotten how to log onto this blog! Not a good sign. I went out to lunch this afternoon with a friend I don't know very well and she mentioned how she'd come across this blog and had read some of it and it made her feel she knew me better.

I told her how I hadn't been writing in it much lately because my life isn't solely my own to write about any more. But it occurred to me how much I miss writing here. I've kept some sort of journal since I can remember...I quit writing in paper journals when I started this blog, but nothing has really replaced it since I decided that 85% of my life is now off limits.

Facebook isn't the same. There you have status updates. I think everyone tries to be pithy and witty and you're limited to a certain number of words. It doesn't lend itself well to longer reflections and I miss that. So, although it may only be one or two posts a week, I've decided to take up this blog again.

It's good timing too, as I have a show coming up in June at The Canvas Gallery, and I've taken this week off from my day job to just have time alone to work on this show. So far I have seven new paintings started. A lot of the work has been started since this weekend, and I've probably spent over 20 hours working on compositions in PhotoShop.

My last show was a hodge podge of different stuff, I was worried about that but it turns out people really liked the mix and didn't miss the cohesive "theme" I usually shoot for. So, I'm going to do that again. Some of the paintings are women in a landscape, some of women with large abstract flowers, some of little things found in the tidewater along the beaches in this area, a few Ariel views of alluvial flows, a couple portraits, some fireweed, etc. You get the drift. The good news is that I'm painting again, really painting and LOVING it.

I'm not at a point to share any yet, but I will. Thanks to anyone who is still dropping by!
Elise on 03.17.10 @ 04:11 PM AK [link]