Posts Tagged ‘heliker-lahotan’

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!

The Beauty of a Residency

Posted on: September 19th, 2017 by jmbroekman 2 Comments
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The beauty of a residency

I am back on Great Cranberry Island at the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation this month, and am struck by not only this lovely island, but also the beauty of a residency. This September feels quite different than last. I’m not sure I can pinpoint what it is that makes me say that. Maybe it’s the earlier changing leaves; Maybe it’s the fact it seems harder to get up the hills on my bicycle.

Printmaking. Maybe that’s what’s different this year.

This year, unlike last, I have a press in my studio. Maybe that’s what’s making the difference. The beauty of a residency is that I can wander. For the first time in ages I am exploring the myriad options that printmaking presents in an unmitigated way. The printmaker part of my brain has been in fully activated. It is something of a return to my roots – and interestingly, the work showing up harkens back to my early days of making art.

Landscapes. Maybe that’s what’s different.

Last year I filled a mess of sketchbooks with drawings of the landscape. How could I not be inspired by being surrounded by all this beauty? Those landscapes, however, didn’t show up in the work in a specific way. The abstract paintings did capture the light, the palette, and the feeling of freedom I had on the island. This year, though, there is a clear and conspicuous link between the prints and the drawings. The work feels even more fully integrated this time around.

The beauty of this time and place.

The sheer beauty of this gift of time is that the work has all this breathing room to lead me in unexpected directions. It took me completely by surprise when I gravitated toward more figurative based work. Unfortunately I spent the first week resolving all kinds of technical issues, and was pretty frustrated – wondering if I really wanted to make prints at all any more. Lo and behold, being the stubborn woman I am, I persisted. I am so glad I did. Allowing myself to try all kinds of approaches to making a print and an image has yielded completely unanticipated results – and that truly is the beauty of a residency.

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!

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?