Posts Tagged ‘italy’

Springtime in Venice

Posted on: March 5th, 2017 by jmbroekman 2 Comments
venice palette

The magical city of Venice

In two weeks I will be embarking on a brief getaway to Venice with an old camp friend. Italy has always provided me a boatload of inspiration; and Venice, one of the more sinister and magical cities on my list, is no exception. Two new sketch books are already bound and ready to go. I have no idea how realistic this plan is, but, I have visions of filling one just with bridges, and the other while I drink coffee in a different campo each morning. Spring may arrive on the calendar while I am there, but I suspect the weather will be more cold, wet and raw, than warm and conducive to spending hours at a time sitting outside sketching! So we’ll see how many pages I fill.

Preparation and Perfection

I’ve been distracting myself by trying to pick the perfect palette of colors to fill up my travel box – even if the “perfect palette” (other than my favorite travel tool: pocket-palette) is a pretty ludicrous idea. It’s been a fun exercise – making little swatches of color, putting them next to and mixing them with each other. It serves to remind me what brought me down this path in the first place: color. I can still picture myself as an elementary school child, happily spending countless hours rearranging magic markers in their box – preferably a great big set of them. Painting little swatches and moving them around on my table – or better still, moving the tubes of paint around – this week, transported me right back to those childhood days.

These will be new materials for me in Italy. It’s only in the last five years (the same amount of time in which I have not been back to Italy) that I have had the courage to work with ink and watercolors. I’m looking forward to seeing how I respond to that combination: Italy + Ink.

And perhaps most importantly, dreaming of how I will spend my 10 days is also doing wonders for moving me back towards some level of sanity – at least temporarily. Donna Leon’s books, which take place in Venice, are providing the backdrop for these dreams. I highly recommend them for well-written escapist mystery literature – even if you don’t have plans to visit.

More Italian Doors

Posted on: April 11th, 2013 by jmbroekman 8 Comments

Above: doors in Umbria – Perugia, San Casciano dei Bagni (OK, maybe that is crossing a line into Tuscany), and Trevi. Below: doors in Puglia – the heel of Italy’s boot; Lecce and Gallipoli.
These are the last of my sketches done for the watercolor sketchbook class, which is officially over as of this week. Glad I did it, but looking forward to getting back to other work in the studio.


Watercolor Sketchbooks

Posted on: March 9th, 2013 by jmbroekman 5 Comments

Watercolor Sketchbook Class at MECA

I am taking a class at the Maine College of Art this term, with extraordinary artist/teacher/coach Judy LaBrasca. Watercolors have never been my forte and I have always admired artists who make it look so easy. Needless to say the class has been challenging, invigorating, and in general a humbling eye-opener. Below are examples of some of my more successful attempts at light airy watercolor sketches – something that is in many ways completely at odds with the way I “normally” work. In order to get there, I had to refer back to Italy – in particular the colors of Foligno (this was an assignment about memory involving color) – the first two below, and Colfiorito – a place that begs to be sketched in watercolor, and are the bottom row below and at left.



Posted on: December 31st, 2012 by jmbroekman 2 Comments

For Anneke: 1.20.27 – 12.31.04

Ricordati che anche in un umore male c’e nascosto un sorriso.

A little piece of modified wisdom I found in a Perugina chocolate (of which I am eating way too many these days). The original translation was “even in an off day there is hiding a smile”. My somewhat rusty Italian take translates to: Remember that even in a bad mood a smile is hiding.

May 2013 bring real joy, honest laughter, and deeply felt peace to you and yours.


Posted on: October 21st, 2012 by jmbroekman

Above, Leslie’s 75th birthday cake; at right an incredibly memorable Tiramisu we had in Siena several years ago.

Always eat dessert first.

That was my father’s approach. In his honor (9.13.25-10.21.11), and because we were celebrating a dear friend’s 75th birthday today, I ate cake, pie, and even cookies. Ho mangiato tutte quelle dolce anche per un’amica in Italia perche é anche il suo compleanno. Tanti auguri, Giovanna – mi dispiace che non eravamo li in Italia per festeggiare con te.

My father’s sweet tooth – and in particular the need for chocolate in one’s diet – is definitely alive and well in me!

Tiramisu in Siena