Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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Monday, April 26th

Eagle Totem Pole Raising at UAS!

Saturday Aaron and I attended the Eagle Totem Pole raising at UAS. The funds for this totem pole were raised primarily by the Alaska Native student group on campus. The Tlingit clan system is divided into two reciprocating halves or (moieties). We already had a totem pole representing the Raven moiety, so we needed an Eagle totem to represent the Eagle moiety and provide balance on campus.

24161_505146422181_182000296_30135529_1352685_n (49k image)

Carrying the totem pole to the location where it will be raised is a community event. The totem pole stops several times along the way so that everyone who would like to participate can take a turn carrying the pole. My husband Aaron was on campus over 15 years ago and helped carry the Raven Totem Pole. He helped carry this one on the first leg of its journey.

24161_505146407211_182000296_30135526_2636148_n (85k image)

There was a crane on hand for safety purposes (required by the university) but the actual raising of the pole was done by hand. This totem was made from a massive 400 year old cedar tree measuring 36 feet long! Strong ropes were looped around around a pine tree high up to create a pulley system. The entire endeavor was incredibly impressive. As the Eagle pole was starting to be raised, two very large eagles swooped down out of the sky right over the totem pole. It was incredibly moving as the crowd erupted into applause and in some cases tears.

24161_505146412201_182000296_30135527_2258973_n (89k image)

This was at the University of Alaska Southeast where I work in the library (the building to the left of the totem). Today, about a quarter of our students are Alaska Native and the entire Auke Lake campus was built on Alaska Native land; the campus tries to remain respectful of that fact. The gap in the crowd was to allow the seated elders the opportunity to view the pole being raised. Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian show incredible reverence to their elders which is something I highly admire about their culture.

The construction and raising of this totem pole was long overdue. One elder of the Eagle clan said that the raising of the pole was like the sun coming out to dry the tears from their faces. Very beautiful day filled with lots of Alaska Native dancing and ending with a big pot latch. It was a beautiful, beautiful event!

From a story in the Juneau Empire: "Seemingly to grant their blessings, a pair of eagles spun in the air above the gathering and a raven flew to a tree perch. The crowd sang out in Tlingit "Wooch Yax," in Haida "litl Tlagaa", and in Tsimshian "Na Yuubm." A "balance" had been restored at the campus on Auke Lake."

For more info (and for a photo of the carving in progress) see these stories from the Juneau Empire: Eagle totem to be raised at UAS and Eagle totem brings balance to UAS campus.

Elise on 04.26.10 @ 11:53 AM AK [link]

Wednesday, April 21st

Fun weekend in Homer but no joy painting

So, I spent 4 days in Homer AK with my sister and her husband George for my cousin Amy's wedding. It was beautiful but I haven't painted in nearly 3 weeks. My show is fast approaching and I've watch self-imposed deadline after self-imposed deadline...pass. Oh well, got to chill in a gorgeous sea-side hotel. These photos (except for the one of my cousin Amy and her new hubby Carson) were all taken from my hotel bedroom.

homer-trawler (87k image)

homer-eagle (120k image)

homer-otter (44k image)

homer-amy-n-carson (60k image)
Elise on 04.21.10 @ 09:53 PM AK [link]

Monday, April 12th

Treadwell and Sandy Beach - Wheeeeeeeeeee!

The first couple of photos were taken at the Treadwell Goldmine where the mine caved in back in the 1920s. The water really does look that color. It's one of my favorite spots to walk to. I want to do a couple of rock paintings for my show in June.

The last photo is one I took tonight after work tonight of the pumphouse. I believe that is the sailboat "Lyric" out on the water in the background. It was gorgeous today but still pretty cold. Still, it did put me in the mood to get our sails up.

The sky was in the process of clouding up after days of sunshine. I'm bummed because I missed the Northern Lights last night and they're supposed to be out again tonight but the clouds will probably prevent me from seeing them again.

treadwell-cave-in5 (110k image)

treadwell-cave-in8 (52k image)

treadwell-cave-in10 (104k image)

treadwell-cave-in2 (71k image)

treadwell-cave-in (69k image)

pumphouse3 (42k image)

Elise on 04.12.10 @ 08:28 PM AK [link]

Saturday, April 10th

Painting: horrible to the body but great for the soul.

Had some kind of toxic melt down early last week. Not sure if it's from all the Liquin I've been using in the studio or the two pieces of pizza I ate (allergic to wheat) but I had physical system melt down. Within a few hours I had a cold sore, achy joints, blotchy face, and other physical ailments of a delicate nature that were a total bummer.

Now I'm feeling better but worried about going back into the studio. I realize I have to learn to paint in a non-toxic way but THIS is the way I know and love. I don't really want to change, even though it sometimes feels like painting is killing me.

I went out for dinner with fellow artist Rob Roys the other night and ran some new ideas past him. I'm going to take a year off from exhibiting after this next show. Just concentrate on building up a quality body of work and then take professional photos of the pieces and try to get some higher end exhibits.

We'll see how it goes.

In other news, I've been reading articles at, a website by Sylvia White. Some of the articles are quite good. One, titled Face The Facts: Everything Your Mother Should Have Told You About Being An Artist was a bit depressing.

Here are the highlights:

1. You will not get "discovered."
2. You will not find a gallery that "understands your work" and feels as passionately about it as you do.
3. No matter how original you think your work is, it has been done before.
4. Just because your work looks just like Jackson Pollack, (or, fill in the blank) doesn't mean it's as good, or that you can price it the same.
5. You will not be able to make a living off the sale of your work.

Thoughts anyone?

The good news is...I found my battery recharger for my digital camera! And it's a sunny glorious day in Juneau Alaska today. Aaron and Noah and I are going out to put up gutter gardens on the side of the house soon, and then to gather seaweed for composting behind the house. I'm VERY excited to garden this year. Then, eventually, I'll go back into my tiny toxic studio. Wish me luck.

Elise on 04.10.10 @ 01:10 PM AK [link]

Monday, April 5th

FINISHED - (well, with one painting anyway)

Friday night Aaron and I went to see the First Friday shows and there was some really impressive work out there. I particularly enjoyed the show by Sue Kraft who had close to 40 paintings at the State Museum (some of them fairly large). She's a landscape painter, but her work is unique and filled with light and color. Best of all (for the artist) the majority of them sold!

Anyway, I went back to my own paintings after her show and at first felt a little dejected. Most of my paintings for the show in June are still in early phases so they don't have a lot of depth or shine yet.

But then I decided to just be inspired (and not depressed) by how beautiful her show was...and this weekend ended up being very productive. I finished my first new painting for my show on June 4th. I also made excellent progress on three other paintings that I'd already started, and began a new one. It felt *really* good to spend so much time in the studio.

Today when I came out to work at the university there was snow on the ground. It was sunny on Douglas Island, where I live, and it had snowed 4 inches in the valley, only 12 miles away. Gotta love the Alaskan weather!

Elise on 04.05.10 @ 09:54 AM AK [link]

Friday, April 2nd

Ode to all things shiny and electronic

Found out today we'll be getting nearly $2,000 tax refund! So, that takes a bit of the sting out of my less than stellar business performance. We will use the money to pay off our car loan, but I can't help dreaming about what else I could get with the money, particularly in regards to my art business.

If you've noticed I haven't been posting many photos lately, it's because I lost my camera's battery recharger. It has been depressing, I could buy a new recharger, but they are expensive and the camera is 5 years old or so, can't help thinking about buying a new camera.

Then I start thinking about our horribly outdated Dell all-in-one printer that is the worst printer ever. I used to print out business cards for my shows, with a different picture on each one so people could chose which one they wanted, and some I turned into refrigerator magnets...but the print quality was not professional looking...and that was 5 years ago. Now it's downright embarrassing. So, a new printer?

But wait, our computer is REALLY old, maybe 8 years old with only 512mb of RAM. Practically prehistoric for the kinds of photo and video editing I do. And SLOW which kind of defeats the purpose of paying for super speedy Internet. A new computer then?

Of course, my show is fast approaching and I have to decide if I should frame all the pieces again (a huge expense) or just display with painted sides as I use gallery wrapped canvases. If I have to buy 10 new, large canvases, it will be very expensive.

And I've given myself the goal of getting 3 more paintings scanned so I'll have new prints to sell at the opening. That whole process is way expensive.

And I've been TOTALLY lusting after the new ipad!

But what about saving up for the down payment on our remote Alaskan cabin get-away?

I need to quit "worrying" about how to spend this money. I hear Suze Orman in my head saying DENIED! YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT! And she's right! The responsible thing would be to pay off the car, put it in our emergency savings, or open an ROTH IRA for retirement. It's HARD being responsible in this day of gadgetry and wonder!

Elise on 04.02.10 @ 12:00 PM AK [link]