Posts Tagged ‘printmaking’

‘Tis the Season

Posted on: December 4th, 2017 by jmbroekman 2 Comments
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‘Tis the season for giving

As often happens in December, I am cleaning out flat files. Since it is the season for gift giving, I’ve decided to give away a stack of prints. Prints that I made during a couple of different year long projects.

One of these projects, Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, seems particularly apropos right now. These prints are about the nature of peace; how having a cup of tea with a friend nurtures a moment of tranquility in a world that seems to be going completely awry. About how the exchange of ideas over a cup of tea is one of the best antidotes we have to the divisiveness of the world around us. You can read more about this project, in an earlier blog post, which you will find here.

The other set of prints (some are on my printmaking page) were completed a couple of years ago for a show celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Peregrine Press. These prints, the Interstices Series, were about the places in between and intersections; the places where we overlap. Where we are more alike than different; and about finding middle ground.

The imagery in all of these prints address ideas about connection and communication and the increasing need to pay attention to how we connect and communicate in this digital age. The older I get, and the more the world turns in a direction that I find difficult to understand and bear, the more important I think art is – both the making and the sharing of it. As a working artist, I feel more and more responsible to put into the world some kind of antidote to the increasingly ugly vitriol.

‘Tis the season of abundance

So,if you’d enjoy an art surprise, I will randomly gift an original one-of-a-kind print to you! My hope is that by putting my work out in this way, I am actually making a difference; that I am offering something worthwhile and helping others find a moment of peace. My intention is to remind you to stop in your too-busy days and remember that quiet moments do and can exist – we just have to pay attention and watch for them, cherish them, and foster an environment that allows for them.

I have about two dozen of these prints on 15″ x 11.25″ paper to give away. No requirements, no catch. If you are so inclined to pay it forward, you can donate to a local organization helping recent immigrants, or the homeless (in Portland: Preble Street or Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project). And of course I’d love it if you subscribed to this blog, or signed up to be on my mailing list if you haven’t already done so. I post to Instagram regularly, to my blog once every couple of months, and send out a newsletter a few times a year. My goal in all these endeavors is to share my artistic investigations with you. Work that I hope brings some peace and beauty into the world.

If you’d like to receive a gifted print from me (I get to choose which one) drop me a line. If you take me up on this offer you’ll be helping make room in my flat files for new work! Thank you.

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.

Dyeing Paper with Plant Material

Posted on: July 14th, 2015 by jmbroekman 3 Comments

Nothing like long sunny summer days to inspire some brand new studio adventures.

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The latest studio adventure involves collecting all kinds of raw plant material, stuffing it into folded packets of paper, submerging it into boiling hot salt-sea-water and letting it cook for a while. The result is dyed paper, and generally, not anything that you might expect. It has all the elements of surprise of making a print, multiplied about a thousand times.

Photos above show from left to right – drying flowers to use as raw material; packets that have come out of the pot, but not yet been unwrapped; and the first unwrapping. Below from left to right are: a packet with a copper plate as part of the wrapping process (the copper definitely changes the outcome); and two views of a variety of the first batch.

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The above photos are from my first forays into this world. Below are pictures of paper drying on the line yesterday, when I couldn’t resist trying again. I made a stab at being a little more methodical this time, keeping better track of what I did. This is a good example of where art and science converge – both start with an inquiry, and are all about exploration and discovery. None-the-less, it was the artist within who won out when it came to monitoring and recording notes. One of the few things that I did note, however, is that the dying daylilies did not leave an orange or yellow residue, but rather produced a pretty deep bluish color. Go figure!

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The earth suddenly seems to have awakened from a long dark sleep now, and everywhere I look, I see bright color. You would think with all those different greens – the light yellow green of the early goldenrod, the soft grey green of the vetch weeds, and the dark shiny green of the bittersweet – that green would’ve been the predominant color on the paper. No such luck. It turns out, green is one of the hardest colors to come by. I did an entire book of herbs – rosemary, sage, lemon balm, thyme, oh, and a giant broccoli plant leaf. Not one piece of green in that book!

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Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by jmbroekman No Comments

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The Presence in Absence

That which was, but is no longer, still is. The absence of that which is no longer present and the fugitive pieces left behind has always interested me. The ghosts left on the plate, then printed; what was once blank now filled with remnants, memories. Bombs may blow up streets, bookshops, and teahouses, but they will never obliterate the stories we tell, nor the human need and desire to gather. We will continue to meet for tea, and explore the world through intellectual and creative pursuits, finding the presence in that which is absent, bringing it back to life.

Three of the final prints for this project are above. You can read more about the project and my process here, and more about the project in general here.