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Jm Brodrick: Mastering a life of art


"The Kimono Fitting," commissioned by Takae Yotemono of Tokyo, Japan. By Jm Brodrick
  • "The Kimono Fitting," commissioned by Takae Yotemono of Tokyo, Japan. By Jm Brodrick

It comes as no surprise that Jm Brodrick listens to German opera when she paints. Her paintings, much like opera, are masterful creations revealing the essence of her subjects, using traditional techniques that take years to develop. It's technique you may not understand, but technique that you feel, that you understand without words. When you see her work, it's clear Brodrick has dedicated her life to deeply understanding and mastering the craft of painting.

The first thing she'll tell you: she's not formally trained; no college, no art school. At 17, Brodrick took to the world on her own, taking a job at an insurance company, working her way up over a 37-year career, learning every detail of the business. Her life in art is quite similar.

At a young age, she was taught by her grandmother, a professional watercolorist and a group of fellow artist friends and colleagues, all formally trained. Brodrick began with drawing but soon was given more techniques to explore. When most kids were doodling and using sidewalk chalk, Brodrick was being trained in the deep craft of visual art, even being told she could only draw with two colors over the course of a year. She chose pink and blue. It was this early, deep development that created a love for craft in Brodrick, so apparent in her work. No one can paint how she does and not truly love it.

"What I like about painting portraits the most, is the challenge that the portrait has to look like the person, and I love a challenge. Every painting you learn something; no painting is ever a failure. You always gain skill or you learn what not to do." Brodrick says. A new challenge she's given herself is to paint the portrait of 16 female Bend artists, on top of backgrounds of each subject's work. She'll have a show in November in Franklin Crossing, and from there will travel.

While she used to paint on just the weekends, retirement has brought a new kind of day-to-day for Brodrick. She's often painting six to 10 hours a day, fulfilling commissions for subjects all over the world. "It's a life's vocation. It's not work. It is what I choose to do and how I choose to spend my time," explains Brodrick. Beginning in April, she'll hang her work regularly in the hallway of Franklin Crossing. There's no slowing down for Brodrick just a deeper shift into her life's work which seems to be bursting forth in a way we get to appreciate and enjoy.

March is National Women's History Month! In honor of that, I'll be writing a portrait piece on a woman artist of Bend each week, featuring four artists who work in a variety of mediums.

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