Posts Tagged ‘Great Cranberry Island’

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!

Great Cranberry Island Drawings

Posted on: October 12th, 2016 by jmbroekman 1 Comment
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Great Cranberry Island drawings from my sketchbooks

I am home again, trying to get organized and settled. My studio is in need of a major clean-up, which is often the case after I’ve been away from it for a period of time. In the meantime, though, I’ve posted pictures of several pages of Great Cranberry Island drawings from sketchbooks I completed last month. You can see them here, or by clicking the link in the sidebar to the right under pages, titled “Great Cranberry Island”.

The drawings and sketchbooks are just part of what I did on that little rock off the coast of Maine. I spent most mornings out and about on the rocks, drawing from the magnificent landscape. In the afternoon I was in my studio working on several mixed media abstract paintings on paper. The paintings reflect everything I was inhaling on this spit of land surrounded by water: the light, the natural beauty, the sounds of the tides coming and going; and perhaps most importantly, the paintings are a reflection of the sense of freedom and joy that I felt there. Thank you Heliker-Lahotan Foundation!