Posts Tagged ‘painting’

Learning To Loosen My Grip

Posted on: August 21st, 2017 by jmbroekman 4 Comments
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Above and at right are snapshots of the studio painting wall with a few of the small 4″ x 6″ oil sketches done on the note card flat-backs. For more of the sunflowers, click here!.

Learning to loosen my dog-with-a-bone grip on everything.

It is a battle of internal wills. My procrastinator side has been winning these last few weeks, but I’m hopeful that today, finally, the get-it-done side will prevail. The procrastinator within has had some good arguments: why do I need to do this post anyway? do you really think anyone is going to read it and be helped by it? it’s summer, there are so many better ways to spend your time. The list goes on. But in truth, I need to formulate some ideas for the possibility of having to give an artist’s talk on Great Cranberry Island next month. I’d like to be better prepared than I felt I was last year to make a public presentation.

So maybe this will be the start of a few fast and furious posts, on a blog that has been long neglected. Or at least, maybe I will finally get this one posted. Which, if you are actually reading this, will prove to be the case!

Learning to loosen my grip and getting it right – two sides of the same coin

This may very well be a continuation of the “getting it right” post from earlier this year. Learning to loosen my ironclad grip on trying to get it right. Loosen my grip on the pencil, the bow, the neck of the cello. Cello lessons applied in the studio. Trying to relax that illusory hold on controlling the world at large.

In the past few weeks in an effort to loosen my grip, I’ve been making small quick oil sketch paintings on leftover note card flat backs. The waste-not-want-queen is alive and well; as is the Avis girl. It’s the latter that I am attempting to put on a train to elsewhere. She’s the one who can’t give up trying harder. Holding on with all her might. Using leftover scrap materials (the flat-backs that go in the packs of note cards to describe what’s in the pack), is my way of making a stab at caring less. It’s decidedly not-beautiful paper, so who cares if what I put down works or can be called a painting with a capital P? Inevitably this is what I need – an attitude of “so what”. It’s the attitude that frees up space in my head so that courage and curiosity have a void to fill. I take bigger chances; allowing myself to just go for it with abandon––loosen the grip on what I think it should be, what I want it to look like. Finally let it be whatever it wants to be. Using scrap materials, crummy paper, pushes me to be quick, loose and decisive, and most importantly not so labored. It is about letting go of all that tightly held effort.

Now maybe I can go out and enjoy some of the rest of the summer!

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04.16.17

Posted on: April 16th, 2017 by jmbroekman No Comments
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I am still trying to get it right, always.

In my more evolved brain, I realize this is an impossible task: getting it right. Whatever “it” is, and whatever “right” is. In April, when the days are longer and the moments of spring peek out from under the leftover snow, “it” is the darkness of memory. “Getting it right” is not letting it get me; an endeavor that appears to be a lost battle. No matter how I try to avoid it, or ignore it, or pretend it no longer exists, grief has a way of slamming me up against a wall every year at this time.

This year I tried giving in to it. I cleared my calendar/schedule, and allowed for some uninterrupted time in my studio, where I worked on writing my sister a letter, by way of a painting. Though I didn’t manage to finish the letter/painting, I did find a certain amount of calm and peace in the process. And I spent a lot of time with her favorite color: purple.

Fifty shades of purple

Purple, it seems, comes in an infinite number of shades and variations. I wonder, did Kukla prefer one that leaned toward blue, or one that was more rose colored? I spent the better part of this past week mixing at least fifty shades of puprle for my sister. It made me think of how hard it is to define what color any particular lilac bush is: is that the “true” color lilac? When I look at the image of the painting on the left – the result of all that purple mixing – it appears more blue than purple; and I suspect there are those, including Kukla, who might argue with me about whether or not you could call this a purple painting.

While I’m not sure I got any of “it right” – the purples, the paintings in general – throwing color and paint around did at least keep the grief, if not at bay, at least in some kind of manageable perspective. The fact that little purple flowers are popping up all of sudden, helped too. I still miss my sister with all my heart and soul, and am beginning to accept that longing as simply a part of what life has handed me. Now the key is to integrate that understanding into my being with some grace.

And special thanks to my friend Debbie Schmitt, for bringing me a box of pansies yesterday, which added to my purple arsenal, and inspired me to get out my watercolors and start a new batch of flower drawings. ‘Tis the season.

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On Being an Artist

Posted on: July 8th, 2016 by jmbroekman 2 Comments
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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.

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12.31.15

Posted on: December 31st, 2015 by jmbroekman 7 Comments
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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!

09.07.15

Posted on: September 7th, 2015 by jmbroekman No Comments
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Another painting for my sister

And another birthday for which she is absent. I have little else to add to what I’ve already written about losing her. The longing does not go away. Nor the anger. And yet, as my friend Jeffery so poignantly said the other day, we are all heading toward the same destination: either a box or an urn. Some will get there more quickly than others. All of which begs us to find ways to relish the beauty and splendor for whatever limited time we have here on earth .