Posts Tagged ‘Swan’s Island’

Beginner’s Mind

Posted on: September 3rd, 2015 by jmbroekman 6 Comments


Mill Pond Park, Swan’s Island, Maine

The judge and jury in my mind have been working overtime this summer. So, I was somewhat reluctant when my friend Shirley suggested we go to a watercolor class while we were on Swan’s Island last week. Resistance is often an indicator that I’m up against something I can’t see. And yet, generally speaking, my stubborn persistent nature, won’t let resistance get the upper hand. Good thing too.

We spent two hours sitting at a picnic table, looking out on a beautiful outgoing tide harbor view, drawing while Iver Lofving gave clear step by step instructions, and entertaining commentary. It turned out to be the best thing I could’ve asked for.

I approached the whole enterprise with a beginner’s mind; putting aside these past few years of doing almost daily watercolor and pen drawings; ignoring the voices that told me I should already know what I’m doing. And went with an open mind, hoping to learn new tricks. What I really learned was that the clamor of judging voices in my head doesn’t know nearly as much as I give them credit for. That if I let go of any preconceived ideas of what the painting should look like, or what I should already know how to do, or the presumption that I know anything at all, I might actually be able to get lost in looking at what’s in front of me, and let my hands do the rest.

The truth is, all my years of looking and mark making, all of the experiences I have both in and out of the studio, have already left their imprints, and are already at my disposal for making decisions and new marks. It’s all already in my DNA. I just have to learn how to trust that, and allow for so-called wrong moves (which in my recent work seem to have outnumbered the “right” ones). It all leads me further along on the path I happen to be traveling on.

So, my two hours in class with the beginner’s mind approach proved to be an indispensable awareness reset. Which of course, is kind of like what spending a week on Swan’s Island can do for the soul as well. Ahhhh, what a relief.

Thus, having hit the reset button, I am empowered and psyched to tunnel back into studio work with eyes wide open. Armed with renewed energy, and the turning of a calendar page, I am embarking on another daily drawing adventure to get me through the end of the year: 120 days/120 drawings. Ready set GO!

Another Visit to Swan’s Island

Posted on: September 5th, 2014 by jmbroekman 4 Comments


Last week we headed down east, in what is fast becoming one of my favorite traditions, to spend time with our vacationing New Jersey friends on Swan’s Island. What can be better than a late August trip to a place where we have no wifi, and nothing to do but read, draw and collect rocks? We ate great meals with raucous friends and played silly games – loudly enough that the neighbors across the road commented on what a good time it appeared we were having.

Last year when we got home, I was preparing to pack up the studio for renovation. This year I am looking forward to a season of hibernation inside my beautiful new studio. First up, though are all the necessary preparations for winter: canning tomatoes, making pickles and relish, painting the storm windows, planting the garlic, and who knows what else. I love this season. Despite the overwhelming list of “must-dos” I am doing my best to maintain that post-vacation zen-like approach to moving through my days. I hope you all are enjoying the last weeks of warm sun, and moving back into your own school year routines.

Swan’s Island Sketchbook

Posted on: September 3rd, 2013 by jmbroekman


We had the great good fortune to spend the better part of last week with our friends from New Jersey who were vacationing on Swan’s Island. For those of you who have never heard of Swan’s Island, there’s probably good reason. It is up near Acadia, a 45 minute ferry ride from Bass Harbor; once there, you are stranded with almost nothing to do. Just one tiny general store that mostly sells lottery tickets and potato chips. But lobster can be bought right off the boat, and there is plenty of hiking and exploring to be done. Perfect for unplugging and slowing down in a big way.

These are the pages of my little sketchbook that I brought with me and filled up in various spots on the island (the last one was done on the ferry ride back to Mount Desert). We had a lovely time, and are very grateful to Shirley and David, for inviting us. And though Labor day has come and gone, and it is time to get to work, I refuse to call this the end of summer. Next up, I’m hoping for the work to begin on my studio renovation.