Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
Home Artist Blog About Me Life in Alaska Purchase Site Index Speak


Tuesday, April 21st

Risk taking behavior

looking at the calendar today I realized that by this time next week I'll have to have all of my work framed and ready to hang at the gallery. I'm leaving Wednesday after work to go to a conference in Albuquerque NM and I won't be back until the following week. I will miss the First Friday opening but there will be an "artist reception" the following week.

In addition to framing I still have to:
Put the finishing touches on a few pieces and sign everything
Pray the paint dries in time
Name and price the pieces
Write something for the paper
Create and hang the posters for the show
Mail out invitations

Now, some of you may recall that over the holidays I had to reformat my hard drive. I thought I'd backed everything up, but somehow I forgot to back up the most important folder on my "Art Business" folder. It had my MAILING LIST! My holy grail, the thing I have been working on for over 10 years. So, I may send out e-vites this year, which is a bummer but what else can I do?

Anyway, I took a few risks with this show but I'm not sure if some of them were improvements or not. I can't feel too badly about them if they weren't though, because if you stop pushing yourself to grow as an artist you won't get any better.

There was a real push-pull this show in terms of whether to go more realistic or more stylized and abstract. Use more blended colors or go with pure ones. I decided that I would just do whatever felt right for each particular painting and not worry so much about the group as a whole.

In some ways I think this show would look better spread out single file rather than grouped on a wall all together...but that's a limitation of the space I get. And, it's at my favorite store in Juneau so believe me, I'm not complaining!!!

I have to make a decision about which art work to use for the posters. My favorite piece has nudity in it so some places won't let me hang it with them (also, they get stolen faster). Maybe I'll make some nudies and some clothed so I'll have options.

Damn, I better get busy! I've been so focused on painting that I've dropped the ball on everything else.

Elise on 04.21.09 @ 08:43 AM AK [link]

Saturday, April 18th

The "Do-Over"

So, I had this painting that started out as a landscape, and it was "so-so".

I decided it would be more interesting to have a woman in it, so I added one, but only small in proportion to the rest of the painting.

I realize 2 constants in my paintings. First of all, that I feel a compulsive need to outline everything. And secondly, that for pieces that have figures in them the figure has to take up a certain percentage of the canvas. The new figure essentially wasn't big enough.

So I painted over the other figure with a newer, larger (totally different) figure. This added the problem I mentioned before, where texture from the underlying painting (mountain and rocks) were showing through on her face and body. I tried scraping it off but I couldn't get it all. And, if you have any kind of gloss to your oil painting, gallery lights will really highlight all that texture (you can see the mountain and rocks underlying the figure).

This was a real drag, as I liked a lot about the new painting other than the texture issue. One thing I didn't like was the rocks to the left of her. Even though I knew the texture issue had ruined the painting, I kept trying to get this pile of rocks to look right. Aaron agreed that the rocks weren't working.

Then I had an epiphany, quit wasting my energy and time on this painting and simply start a new one, keeping all the elements I liked and getting rid of the elements that weren't working.

So, last night I spent a total of one movie (Underworld) starting the remake of the dysfunctional time-sink. The new painting is awesome (imho) or at least, it's way way better than the other one that I kept trying to "fix".

I have never really done that before (to my knowledge) and it was a very positive experience because I knew exactly what I wanted for the new piece. Later I will post you versions of each painting to show you what I'm talking about.

Anyway, I'm waiting for Aaron to finish up at Earth Day out at the Glacier Visitor Center. We went out there to check out gutter gardens. It's such a cool idea for Alaskan's and I believe that Aaron and I will be starting one of our own soon.

OK, back to painting!

Elise on 04.18.09 @ 02:55 PM AK [link]

Thursday, April 16th

I Dreamed a Dream

So, everyone has probably already seen this by now, but it really touched me and I wanted to share in case you haven't seen it yet.

Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent.

I was wondering why this performance has touched so many people so deeply, and I think it's more than the fact that she is older and plain and has an unexpectedly beautiful voice. I think it's because we know that she's never been kissed, lives alone, has had a hard life, and yet she's still dreaming of being a professional singer...and the song she chose "I dreamed a dream", is a song about a person who's looking back at how all the hopes and dreams they had for their life were crushed. And yet, Susan Boyle's dreams may actually come true! Sometimes when your dreams seem impossible, there's still hope.

God, this performance really got to me...and I'm not one to forward youtube videos around and I'm not an American Idol fan or anything. I just relate to this woman, and I hope that wonderful things begin to happen for her.

In other news, last night was a WONDERFUL night in the studio. Some days I paint and paint and paint and have very little to show for it. The night before last (for example) I took a painting that I'd finished (signed and everything) and I wanted to fix a bluish shadow on her chin that was bothering me.

Next thing you know I was changing her mouth a little, then her nose was off, then her eyes, then the shape of her face. I spent hours re-painting something and ultimately, it looked better before I'd started.

But last night...I took a new painting that I'd done on a whim with very little planning, and I developed it some more, and it looks so good to me.

I know I'm not posting stuff right now (my pieces) and I'm not sure why. I think because it's close to my opening and if I post things and no one says anything then I'll feel like they must be terrible and I'm already totally stressed out. So, I will consider posting a few images when they are getting closer to being finished.

Right now I have about 8 paintings that are nearly finished, and two or three that are still "in progress" that I may or may not choose to have in the show depending on how they pan out.

Still, last night in the studio was a delirious trance of painting goodness. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't just the painting fumes.

Elise on 04.16.09 @ 11:00 AM AK [link]

Monday, April 13th

New Canvase Storage Unit!

So, below is the canvas storage unit that Aaron built for me after I loaded it up with paintings, new canvases, and frames. I had a lot more stuff than either of us realized! My studio seems twice as big now that I don't have to crawl over heaps of precariously stacked paintings in order to get to my chair.

filled-canvas-storage-unit-2 (56k image)

The top unit stores canvases 30"x40", which is as big as I paint these days.
The middle unit stores canvases 24"x"30 and 24"x36".

filled-canvas-storage-unit1 (63k image)

The second from the bottom stores canvases 18"x24" and 16"x20".
The bottom stores 14"x18" and smaller.

In the previous entry there are a couple photos that show it empty so you can see how it was built. It only took him a couple of hours. I think he used a sheet of plywood, 3 2x4s, and 1 1x2. Then he used wood screws and wood glue and I think that's it. I know it cost under a hundred dollars to make.

This thread on Wet Canvas shows how to make a cheap storage rack for wet canvases, if anyone is interested.
Elise on 04.13.09 @ 08:32 AM AK [link]

Sunday, April 12th

Best present EVER!

This weekend Aaron built me a shelf to store my canvases and dried paintings. I LOVE it so much. My studio has seemed small and cramped because there were paintings and new canvases lying around stacked up everywhere. He came up with this design on his own after going through a lot of options.

Initially he was planning on making a storage unit for wet canvas, but then it occurred to me that I like having my wet canvases hanging on the wall, so I can see them in-progress. Once we removed the need for individual dividers, the project got a lot easier and he knew just what to do.

I'm soooo impressed with it. It's really sturdy, and we're going to install a swinging arm mount for a small flat-screen TV (when we can afford one).

Now I'm going to paint it white, then start stacking my canvases in it. I'm so happy! I finally feel like I have a *real* studio. More photos to come!

canvas-storage-unit (93k image)

canvas-storage-unit2 (100k image)

Elise on 04.12.09 @ 07:59 PM AK [link]

Wednesday, April 8th

Liquin = Baaaaaaaaaaad toxic stuff

OK, last night (after finishing my taxes) I put in an additional 3 hours in the studio. The problem is that I was lured by the promise of fast drying, to use Liquin. It's a painting medium that's used for glazing but it also speeds drying time. Normally, I try to go with a totally non-toxic set-up...walnut oil paints and painting medium, but I'm running out of time and truth is, I LOVE to paint with Liquin.

However, I forgot to turn on my air purifier, and today I've had the WORST headache, starting at about noon and I still have it now. I don't usually get headaches very often either, so I'm pretty incapacitated when I get one.

So, I turned on my air purifier as soon as I go home tonight and I'm taking the night off from painting. Drinking lots of water and cranberry juice.

Still, I've been really in the zone lately, and having to take a night off totally bums me out. Anyway, to any oil painters out there, be sure to get proper ventilation when you paint with chemicals!

Anyway, below is a photo I took of Aaron and Osiris watching TV the other night. Too cute!

osiris-aaron-watching-tv (44k image)

Elise on 04.08.09 @ 08:52 PM AK [link]

Tuesday, April 7th

These hands were made for painting, and that's just what they'll do...

My goal is to paint for 2 hours a night during the week, and last night I worked for 6! I made excellent progress on a new piece that is either amazing or awful. I'm still undecided. One thing I can say is that it will be the largest piece in the show and even though it's not that big (24x30) it's still a lot of canvas to cover with paint.

Still, the more I paint, the looser I feel and the less worried, and generally the happier and more optimistic my outlook.

I am beginning to really see the show coming together. I made a decision to use a non-traditional color for vegetation because I feel like the show (in general) is a little too green-centric.

It is GRAY and COLD and Rainy can you blame me? It's supposed to SNOW again today.
My mind is already deeply into SPRING. I just feel like perhaps my monochromatic world is causing me to be a tad heavy handed with the green.

Born with the moon in cancer
Choose her a name she will answer to
Call her green and the winters cannot fade her
Call her green for the children who've made her
Little green, be a gypsy dancer

Just a little green
Like the color when the spring is born
There'll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow
Just a little green
Like the nights when the northern lights perform
There'll be icicles and birthday clothes
And sometimes there'll be sorrow

(Excerpts from "Little Green" by Joni Mitchell)
btw, Happy Poetry Month Everyone!

Elise on 04.07.09 @ 12:46 PM AK [link]

Monday, April 6th

Fear and Loathing in my Living Room

So, Aaron measured the wall space I have at Annie Kaill's then measured out the same amount of wall space in our living room so I could see what my exhibit will look like on a similar sized wall. This weekend I hung the pieces I had so far. The wall was *very* big and I didn't have nearly the amount of paintings done that I thought I had (the show is in 3 weeks).

First of all, I was going to paint figures over a few landscapes I'd already painted. Only, when I finally painted the figures the texture from the landscape showed through under their skin, even after I tried to scrape off all of it with my pocket knife (very messy) those were out.

Secondly, a couple of the paintings on my PhotoShop "wall" were only mock-ups themselves, paintings I'd done in PhotoShop that I hadn't started on canvas yet (and ones I didn't like that much to begin with). The one composition I'd spent all last weekend on, was quite terrible.

So, what I had to show for all of my recent efforts was a few half-finished pieces on a very large wall.

On top of that, I realized that somehow I had run out of all of my smaller sized canvases. I used to have stacks lying about but all I have now are gigantic ones I purchased for my show at the Canvas Gallery (a VERY VERY large gallery).

So, terror set in big time. Like, the real screaming jeebees (without the actual screaming). Aaron was great at calming me down, got me out of the house and away from all the paint fumes to do a little relaxation exercise. He also did all the house work this weekend while I holed up in my studio and got to *seriously* painting He's like my personal pit crew, I can take a break and he'll massage out the kinks in my neck and shoulder, crack my back, make me a cup of coffee, give me an ego boost and a daily vitamin, and then send me on my way feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work!

I did one completely new painting last night that I'm really excited about, and I worked on three other paintings that are now nearly finished. Plus I've scheduled 2 hours of studio time every week night, and plan to put in 8-10 hour days for the next two weekends. Then I have to stop and let everything dry.

I also have to design a poster and postcards and get them printed and etc. I love having shows because it forces me to work but the STRESS! It really is overwhelming at time.

Elise on 04.06.09 @ 12:25 PM AK [link]