Born in 1927, Gerald Brommer died on November 3, at 93 years old.
Brommer grew up in Northern California then studied to be an educator in Nebraska, where he earned a Master’s degree. After moving to Southern California, he received instruction in watercolor painting from Watson Cross, Noel Quinn, and Robert E. Wood. At the beginning of his career he taught geography and painted whenever possible. Gradually, he phased out the geography classes to allow more time to paint and teach art.
Since the 1950s, he produced watercolors on a regular basis. Many of his early works were very carefully planned and executed. On occasion, he added paper collage to give added textures. Over time, he began painting on location and worked more spontaneously, responding directly to the subject before him.
The subjects he chose to paint varied widely from California coast views, to desert landscapes and European city scenes. Throughout his life he remained interested in geology and the rock formations that he often included in his work. He found their varied textures and unique shapes particularly interesting as subject matter.
Brommer was an internationally recognized teacher, and the author of 18 art instruction books and numerous articles in art magazines. He served as president of both the California Water Color Society and West Coast Watercolor Society. Through the years he actively exhibited watercolors, holding 110 one-man shows and having his works displayed in 204 group exhibitions.
When asked how he found the time – and inspiration – to paint nearly 10,000 pieces over his decades-long career, he once replied, “It’s just what I do.… I painted it the way it was the first 20 years and the last 50, I’ve been painting it the way I want to paint it,” Brommer told the Sentinel before an exhibition of his work in Hanford, California, last fall. “When you’re first starting, you tend to imitate nature and later on, you’re commenting on it. You start to get more selective.”
Even then, at 92 years old, Brommer painted for about two hours a day, down from the eight hour-a-day work schedule he had for decades. “I’d rather go sit and watch television with a scotch in my hand,” he laughed.
Though less prolific, Brommer said he still found ways to bring the best out of himself and his work. Every year, he made the effort to change his style in some way, whether by brainstorming a new way to approach a subject or even by being inspired by the work of others. “It’s a challenge, but it makes me get up in the morning and go to work,” he said. “I don’t want to be dull and repetitive.”
Most recently, he co-juried the exhibition, ‘NWS: The First 100 Years.’
“The art world has lost a great man,” says his friend and fellow artist Brenda Swenson. “Gerald ‘Jerry’ Brommer’s enthusiasm for painting and teaching changed my life. I met him in the mid 90s, early in my painting life. Many can attest to him as a loved teacher for 26 years, in the Lutheran schools, but I came to know him in the realm of a watercolor workshop instructor. His love of teaching, watercolor, and nurturing style came together to create the man I knew. A kind, thoughtful person who loved God, Georgia and his students. Always careful with his words and spoke kindly of others. He was a prolific painter, compassionate teacher, encourager and when needed…a nudge.
“His contagious enthusiasm for life, teaching and painting guided me. I was a student beyond watercolor. I was a student of his teaching skills as well: how he handled a demo, a class, a person, a critique… his voice still guides me. We honor our teachers not by copying them but sharing their enthusiasm and carrying their message. In my workshops I always talk about him. I hope and pray my actions reflect this dear man: through my paintings, how I teach and in my life.”