Posts Tagged ‘Enough’

Lessons Learned on an Island

Posted on: October 30th, 2017 by jmbroekman No Comments
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Make art. It’s enough.

It has taken me almost a month to sit down and write this post. For each item that gets crossed off the to-do list, three more are added. One of the most beautiful parts about being out on the island: my list is so short as to be unnecessary. One of the lessons learned: make art. Full stop.

Lessons learned: Intention matters.

This year the lessons learned were a little different than last year. In 2016 I went to GCI with some personal goals in mind: I wanted to learn how to let go of my tight grip on everything, and lighten up. To that end, I worked in a personal book I’d started 5 years earlier about shifting narratives. It’s true what they say about intention. Looking back at the work from the last year, I can see that I did actually lighten up, and fought less with the work. This year I went with a plan to make a lot of garbage. To really explore printmaking with a beginner’s mind, and I did just that.

Lessons learned two: I still love making prints

My objectives were different this year since I had a press in my studio. I wanted to see if I really was still a printmaker at heart. Turns out I am. I woke up that part of my brain, and learned a lot about printmaking. I explored myriad new methods of making a print. Each process I tried, led me to some other way of approaching the plate, problem, or image. It was thrilling.

What is it about making prints that inspires this feeling of connectedness to the deepest recesses of my soul, that place where I am my most veracious self? I still don’t exactly consider myself a printmaker. I don’t make editions or use any traditional methods, and I wouldn’t even know the first thing about actually etching a plate. Yet, it was through printmaking that I reaffirmed a sense of myself that had been seemingly buried. It’s not that I don’t feel that sense of myself with painting. In fact, I longed to do more painting while I was on the island; but I was utterly compelled by making prints. And the work was much more integrated – drawing, and then using the drawings as imagery for the prints. It’s been forever – if I actually have ever done that.

Lessons learned three: I am an artist at my core

I was reminded in September, of the lesson I first learned while doing an independent study in lithography at the Art Institute of Boston several decades ago. Making art is not optional for me. Given the kind of space – both physical and mental – that a residency affords, I saw with the same kind of clarity, how utterly vital this is to who I am and my well being. Making art is what I am meant to be doing. It was why I was put here on the planet. It is the only thing that really makes any sense to me.

I am indeed an artist. Not that most people who know me, ever had any doubt. Nor do I, usually. But there are times when I feel like I should be doing more to make this world a better place. That’s what I’m doing by making art. Trying to make this world a better place. If I can create something that makes even one person smile, or take a deep restorative breath, or see the world in a different way, then I’ve done my job. And I’ve done it well.

Where the work resides

While I was on GCI in September, the work came at me from so deeply within, that there seemed to be no end to it. Maybe one of the most important lessons learned – as I struggled to resolve some technical issues with printmaking during my first week on the island – was that if I give myself over to the processes, they will show me the way.

And I learned that sometimes you just need to add a little linseed oil to the ink to keep it from sticking to the paper to the point of destruction. I’m sure there are some applicable life lessons in that one if I think about it!

On Being an Artist – Part 2

Posted on: August 17th, 2016 by jmbroekman 6 Comments
The beginning of a new book of collages
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Thoughts on being an artist in this always-connected-digital world

This is a continuation of the most recent post in which I lamented that being an artist isn’t always as easy at it looks. Has being an artist become even more complicated in this always-connected-digital universe?

You could argue that the digital age makes being an artist easier, rather than more difficult. There are so many ways to reach your audience. Yet, there is something about putting work “out there” whether here on this blog, on FaceBook, or Instragram, that keeps a questioning eye peering over my shoulder. For those of us who lean sharply toward the side of self-doubt, this social media landscape often feeds our worst internal demons. I almost always hesitate before hitting the “post” button, questioning myself and my motivation, before sending whatever it is out into cyberspace. Are you sure that’s ready for prime time?

I am told, however, that as an artist not connecting is not an option. And if there is one lesson that being an artist teaches, it’s that you have to look fear right in the eye, and do whatever it is anyway. So in I jump with both feet and allow the crazy current to carry me where it will. On the plus side, I’ve gotten a ton of positive feedback, and discovered a mess of really talented and inspiring artists out there. In the end, I like being able to stay in touch and share my work with all of you, near and far.

On being an artist – and finding time to disconnect

Courageous acts as an artist also include sending out applications (for grants, shows and residencies). As my grandmother always said “No you’ve got, yes you can get“, which I wrote about here. With that in mind, I applied for a residency at the Heliker-Lahotan Foundation. To my great delight, they invited me to spend September on Great Cranberry Island!

I am looking forward to working with abandon; letting my curiosity take me where it will, without expectation of what the work should be; slowing way down to live inside the work, and giving that little voice of doubt over my shoulder a vacation. This time away, I am confident, will propel my work forward for many years to come. Can you tell how excited I am about this opportunity?

Summer at it’s best

Posted on: August 12th, 2015 by jmbroekman No Comments
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Ahhhhh Summer

The season that flees too fast, making us savor every moment of it. Last week we went “upta camp” as they say in these parts. It was a little piece of heaven on earth. Exploring in kayaks, swimming, and wandering around the woods completely unplugged – no cell phone, no computer, no screens; and camping lanterns for light when the sun went down. I was happily reintroduced to a part of myself that had gone missing for a while.

When we got home, I decided to try my hand at fermenting some vegetables: cucumbers, cabbage, carrots and kohlrabi. The jars are bubbling as I understand they should, and cucumbers are starting to smell just like pickles! Looking forward to biting into that first one, and feeling oh so grateful for all this season brings.

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01.14.13

Posted on: January 14th, 2013 by jmbroekman No Comments

Day 8 (left); and Day 9 (right)

0107-230high01-08-13: Day 7

I have been walking in the woods in the morning and noticing the myriad shades of grey – more than 50 (and no, I have not read that book; nor am I planning to). The color of the winter sky – both early in the morning and late in the afternoon is forever intriguing and filling my thoughts as I am in the studio.

01.12.13 – Day 13

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Show up. Pay attention. Suspend judgement. Let go of the outcome.

Finished/Unfinished

Posted on: November 15th, 2012 by jmbroekman 2 Comments
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Enough is Enough

In Italy you often hear parents admonishing their children with a rather loud BASTA. At our house, growing up, it wasn’t so loud, but the words held the same intensity: That’s ENOUGH. And when you heard those words come out of my mother’s mouth, you knew she meant it.

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do you
know,
and
when is,
enough is enough?

When I left the studio last night, I put this little 8.25″ x 5″ painting on the wall, and thought “that’s enough for today; I’ll attack it again tomorrow”. But seeing it again this morning with fresh eyes, I wondered whether maybe enough was really enough.