Posts Tagged ‘words’


Posted on: September 7th, 2017 by jmbroekman 2 Comments
0907-remembering azaleas

Top: I was once a teacup, mixed media on board;
Above: I was once a branch of azaleas, mixed media on board

Remembering my sister on her birthday

My sister was born on this date 64 years ago. So today I am remembering her.

That’s not exactly news. I am always both keeping Kukla in mind, and simply remembering in general. Remembering is always at my core. Whether elusive or more tangible, I believe memories and remembering are what completely shape and form who we are every step of the way.

Layers of remembering

Even though I don’t make narrative work, thoughts about memory, and remembering, have always permeated my paintings, prints, and collages. My work is always layered, and the pieces that sit below the surface, like the fragments of experiences that are lodged in our bones, play an integral part in building the ultimate artwork. I may start something as a drawing of teacup, or by putting down an azalea red ground; eventually that teacup will be obliterated, and the painting will become blue or green. There will, however, still be this one tiny bit of that red that shows through. And that sliver may be what makes that painting. The thing that makes it work, makes it interesting; it’s what catches your eye – that fragment of memory. So what came before, the experiences, the layers that lie below the surface – they are what make the present possible, the work what it is.

There is a story in the Talmud, that goes something like this: We each have an angel who walks besides us, and before we are born, our angel teaches us everything we will need to know to live this particular life. Then, just before we head down the birth canal, the angel knocks us between the nose and the upper chin, and we forget absolutely everything we’ve been taught*.

The seeds of that wisdom were already planted, and they are there inside our body. Guiding us along our journey here on earth. I wish my sister was still around; I know she would be as fascinated by these ideas as I am. Happy Birthday Kukla, wherever you may be flying.

*Side note: if you would like to read more about this phenomenon/idea there is an interesting examination/discussion of it here:

My bones no longer carry me well

Posted on: February 7th, 2013 by jmbroekman 2 Comments

A longer poem from Janet Loflin Lee

My bones no longer carry me well

My bones no longer carry me well,
my body a bag of fog, bogwater and bits of string.
It is a winter heaviness,
like all northern people I look for the returning light.

I am compelled to sleep in the day,
more than a nap, more than a cessation of movement –
a hardening of body, soul and thought.

I have always entered into winter with a hunger
for that china plate blue sky,
the gentled muffled sound of snow –
cotton falling on cotton.

But now I yearn for an early mardi gras of color
an infusion of warmth,
a sense of movement that precedes dancing,
a slower sun, an elongated day
An afternoon that is not evening too.

I park myself by the window
following the arc of the sun.
Work undone, projects abandoned,
I have become a hoarder of light,
storing up against the dark folds
of the January nights.


01.20.13 – More Drawings

Posted on: January 21st, 2013 by jmbroekman 2 Comments

01.19.13 – Day 20



01.15.13 – Day 16

This drawing comes with a poem, written by my friend Janet Lee. It proved to be somewhat challenging – finding celadon green, and somehow making it work with tangerine orange!

in a celadon bowl
hot tea, winter morning

– Janet Loflin Lee

Below are two more pieces (days 14 and 15) inspired by Janet’s words. On the left:

Seeing the lake
through the thicket of winter
basket of blue

and on the right:

Ground lit from below; first snow.



Posted on: April 16th, 2011 by jmbroekman 4 Comments

I’ve been painting purple tulips

for my once-older sister Kukla, who died 6 years ago today. I am older now than she was then, and I am still at a loss for words, while I continue trying to figure out how to move through life carrying this giant hole that she left behind. You wouldn’t think a hole could weigh so much.

Purple was her favorite color. She collected pitchers. And she loved flowers, especially tulips. One of my favorite memories of time spent with her was when we took my mother back to Holland, just the three of us. On a cold rainy day – almost exactly 12 years ago today – we went to visit the Keukenhof gardens. They were in full bloom and my sister was a pig in you-know-what. She was completely delighted by every single glorious bed of color.

Snapshots below are of shopping on the streets in Amsterdam; and my mom’s elementary school – directly across from the little hotel where we stayed.


Letterpress 101

Posted on: February 13th, 2011 by jmbroekman

Letterpress and the art of persistence

I attended a great Letterpress workshop yesterday taught by David Wolfe. David is a terrific artist and printer, and his studio is full of extraordinary energy – maybe it’s all those really cool and diverse printing presses.

Letterpress printing is a type of printmaking that I have been interested in learning, and incorporating into my work for a long time. I had a blast yesterday and my head is spinning with ideas. For those of you unfamiliar with the process or term “letterpress” see the link above for a decent wikipedia explanation. The image at left is a detail of what I worked on in the workshop; the background print is a mat-board etching/collograph that I worked on a few days ago.