Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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.

Off to Ireland

Posted on: May 7th, 2016 by jmbroekman 1 Comment

and home again

OK, so it has been forever since I’ve posted something on this blog, and I started putting something up before leaving for Ireland. So much for good intentions; I never finished that post. In fact I only got so far as the photo, my lovely new paintbox, which it turns out wasn’t exactly meant for travel – all that neatly placed paint got all jumbled up on the flight over. Luckily, I needed a lot of grey.

Ireland was lovely, beautiful, new and different. We spent our time on the west coast, did a lot of hiking/walking, a fair amount of pub hopping (not just for the beer, but to hear music, which was terrific). And now we’re home with miserable colds! To make up for my lack of posting, here are a mess of photos; Hope you enjoy the scenery!









Brief descriptions, from the top: First row – Doolin, hiking the Cliffs of Moher; Second and third rows – The Dingle Peninsula; Fourth, fifth & sixth rows: Killarney National Park, including Muckross Abbey, the lakes, and hiking into the Gap of Dunloe; Last two rows – Bantry Bay and the Sheepshead Peninsula, with the last photo from Cork City.

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.


Arrivederci Roma

Posted on: June 21st, 2012 by jmbroekman

Ciao America

OK, so we’ve been home a little less than three weeks, and I am just now saying my goodbyes. Or, at least uploading the last of my pictures from the camera onto the computer. If you are on my newsletter mailing list, one last nostalgic installment is on it’s way to an in-box near you. If you aren’t on the newsletter list and want to see what you’ve missed these past few months, a link to the archives can be found in the sidebar to the right of this entry.

Adjusting to life in the United States has been a little more challenging than I’d imagined. There is much about my life in Foligno that I am sorely missing at this moment; but there is also much about my life in Maine that I am blissfully glad to be reengaged with. Now if I could just finish reclaiming my studio from the mice who took over in my absence, and find the strawberries among the garden weeds …

At left is the beach in Ostia – where they actually roll the sand to pack it down and make it smooth. While Italy will always be chock full of visual inspiration, nothing beats the sounds and smells of the rocky coast on this stretch of the Atlantic – I’m glad to be home for la bella stagione qui nel Maine!