On Being an Artist

Posted on: July 8th, 2016 by jmbroekman 2 Comments
No why just hereI was a bunch of sunflowers

It ain’t so easy, this being an artist thing

Being an artist and making art is hard work – not nearly as “fun” as it looks. I recently found myself trying to explain to a visitor to my studio that fun is decidedly not how I would describe what happens inside these walls. This is not a complaint, and I’m not sure why I find it necessary to defend what I do in that way. It’s also not to say that I wouldn’t like to allow fun to play a bigger role. I would, and I’m working on that.

I’ve been kicking this blog post around inside my head for at least a month. It writes itself at 2 AM when I should be sleeping; but when I sit down at the computer it is nowhere to be found. Just like painting. Conjuring up the paintings I want to make, or think I want to make, is so much easier than actually squeezing out the color onto the palette and transferring that color to the substrate. Why is that?

What is fun anyway?

Maybe it’s just a matter of semantics. I chose the images of recent work above as an example of my process and the roundabout way I arrive at some of my paintings. On the left is a drawing from my 120 days/120 drawings project that I completed last fall. On the right is where it is now – 9 months later.

I can still remember arriving at the drawing, back in September; It had been a good day, and I was definitely lost in the making of marks on a giant piece of paper on my wall (*see below: an image of the big sheet of paper with multiple drawings from last fall). It was one of those moments of what is now referred to as “a flow state”. I was completely present in the act of looking and putting down marks. Until I stood back. That’s when the judge inside my head showed up and told me all the things that were “wrong” with it; that part was too big, that was too far left or right … on and on. Then I had a long conversation with myself about whether or not I should try and “fix” it. That conversation – about making art in this age of social media – probably needs to be discussed in a different post.

So I wonder, is that state of flow actually different than fun? Maybe not. Maybe it depends how you decide to define fun. Amusement park rides are decidedly NOT fun in my book, yet I know they are for most people. Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon who makes art.

If you’d like to see more of my drawings from last fall that have morphed into (in most cases entirely different) paintings, you can follow me on Instagram: j.broekman.

big sheet of sunflowers

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Jessyca,
    Yes! Fun is a not a word I use to describe my art making process either. In fact I can count on one hand the moments that actually qualify as “fun” in my studio over the past 10 years. I find words like methodical, intense, grueling, tedious and challenging are more frequent visitors to my art making vocabulary! Fun is awesome when it happens though….it always takes me by surprise….usually when I am so tired that I can’t think anymore. Maybe that is the key….extreme fatigue! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • jmbroekman says:

      Haha … extreme fatigue, maybe that is the key. I will say that it may in fact be the thinking piece. If you take that activity out of the equation, maybe you get to that flow/fun state more quickly. The ultimate challenge: quieting the monkey mind!