Posts Tagged ‘120 days/120 drawings’

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

12.31.15

Posted on: December 31st, 2015 by jmbroekman 7 Comments
last-sunflowers-forblog

The end of another year

Today marks not only the last day of 2015, but 11 years since my mother died. Last night, in her honor, and to celebrate the coming new year and finishing the 120 days (more on that in a minute), I made her famous chocolate mousse. Famous because, when I was growing up, legend has it, she could never make a batch big enough. If Dad was bringing home the crew (Joy, Gil, and Humphrey), and my mom made enough for 8 they finished it; if she made enough for 12 they finished it. Never a drop left. Famous too, because at her funeral, my sister lamented that she never got the recipe. Little did she know, I already had it. And now, it has also been safely passed into the hands of my friends Shirley and David, for whom I’ve been making it on Swan’s Island every summer for the last 4 to celebrate their wedding anniversary. I’m glad there are ways to pass traditions around.

So, the chocolate mousse is chilling, soon the lentils will be simmering (you have to eat lentils on New Years Eve for prosperity – in case you were wondering), and for the first time in 121 days I did not make a drawing (yet). Yesterday was the last day in my self-imposed 120 days/120 drawings challenge. And a challenge it was. I am still trying to figure out what I learned other than that even after 4 months of daily practice, I can still get tripped up by the same old objects and mental road blocks. I think the most interesting part may be to see what comes next. Some more good work, I hope.

Here’s hoping you and yours will experience a sense of well-being, good health, and plenty of laughter in 2016!

Drawing Pears

Posted on: October 31st, 2015 by jmbroekman 4 Comments
10-29-15x320w
10-27-15pears
10-pearlandscape

Which turns out to be deceptively difficult to do.

Pears may not look like much, but capturing the twists and turns and bumps and crevices is definitely giving me a run for it. Today marks the halfway point in my 120 days/120 drawings project. Watching the trajectory of the work is starting to be interesting. So too, observing the season as it changes. In the beginning of this project (2 months ago), I picked up a bunch of sunflowers at the market, and spent a week or two drawing/painting them; then there was another batch of farmer’s market mystery flowers, which did not hold my attention in quite the same way as the sunflowers; and now there are the apples and pears falling from the trees on my once rural road.

Drawing on a daily basis has always been a form of meditation for me; I crave the quiet of paying attention to whatever is in front of me, whatever marks I happen to be making. And, I have often challenged myself to make a drawing a day. Usually, though I limit it as a requirement to one month at a time. I wondered, would longer than a month make it a habit to which I became addicted? It is definitely a habit, and I do feel the tug to get to it as if it is a necessity, though I also still feel a certain amount of pressure until I actually pick up the pencil. I had hoped it would get easier.

I have always secretly hoped that drawing in general would get easier. It’s never been something that comes naturally to me. I struggle to “get it right”. Still. I’m working hard on giving up on the idea of rightness.

I saw a quote someone posted on FB this morning that struck me: it was about making art in general, and how when he was young, Bruce Nauman, assumed that art was something he’d learn how to do and then do it. But then at some point he realized:

“Basically, I would have to start over every day and figure out what art was gonna be.”

Yup. Just like I have to figure out how to draw every time I pick up a tool.Some of the sunflower “drawings” are posted on my Instagram account. Yes, I finally broke down and signed up for yet another of those seemingly silly social network thing-a-ma-jigs. I resisted for a long time, but I must admit, it is kind of fun; and though it is easier to update than this blog, I think spending time thinking about what I do, and why, and sharing that with whomever is interested has it’s merits. So, I will continue to update in both places. If you have already signed up for Instagram, you can follow me: j.broekman. If you haven’t signed up, and you have a smart phone or a tablet, just download the app, and sign up. it’s a visual feast; or another time suck, depending on how you look at it.