Celebrating the Life and Art of a Watermedia Master

Born in 1927, Gerald Brommer died on November 3, at 93 years old.

Gerald Brommer at 92

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.

“Orvieto Rooftops Tuscany” (watercolor, 24 x 36 in.)

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.”

The Ponte Vecchio (acrylic and collage, 48 x 48 in.)

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.”


  1. It is sad that our art world has lost Gerald Brommer. He stood among our artistic giants. Although I was not able to study with him, I do own some of his books. He was a master and I am honored to have been included by him in his last juried show.
    Patricia Abraham

  2. 1968 I KNEW Rosemary she was a student at Lutheran high school and daily I would hear her say Mr. Brommer told me…had to do with colors………she was the best…….
    We went to Carmel Calif. 1986 To see his art gallery… we were told he is having a one-week art class here in Carmel… I travel with four other artists they set up my first watercolor pellet…Mr. Brommer said “I am traveling to England with a class for one week…..come alone”……I did…soon my husband and me traveled with Jerry to 10 work classes in Europe… Jerry was an amazing teacher…I have a giant painting of his with “Rocks in BIG SUR”……..”GOD BLESSED…HIM WITH THE TALENT OF WATERCOLOR AND TAUGHT US ALLLLLLLL
    Veronica Hernandez Allenbaugh and Howard too………

  3. Mr. Brommer was, early on, an artist whose work I could admire and hope to equal. Around 1968, I had the great pleasure to meet him and speak with him. I showed him a painting of mine, which he said he thought was “very advanced”, and it made my year. He also gave a slide show/lecture, and I was thrilled to see and hear of his approach to painting. We have indeed lost a terrific artist, teacher, and generous person. We should be grateful for his contribution to our art.

  4. Jerry was a great artist, teacher and coach. Yes, a High School track and cross country coach at Los Angeles Lutheran High School in the early ’60,s. He blessed us all with his friendship.

    • Mr. Brommer and Roland Sywester made a great art teaching team when I was there 65-69. You, Donald, were a great Driver Training teacher on the weekends. I enjoyed our time squeezed into that car 4 hours at a time.

  5. There will never be another Jerry. His creative spirit will always exist in his paintings and in the hearts of his students and friends. From the first time we met in 1981, we were fast friends. He was the most down to earth “genius” I’ve ever known. Easy to talk to. Calm, cool, and collected—always with a wry twist on something and at the same time, a brilliant insight into that same subject. I will miss his presence on this earth. He wanted us all to “be the best that we could be.” He showed us how. “And flights of angels sing him(sic) to his rest. I loved him very much.

  6. I took two week long classes from Gerald Brommer. He was an excellent teacher, able to explain artistic concepts
    succinctly through example, practice and humor. His dedication was
    Inspiring and he will be missed.

  7. Jerry is the reason I began painting in Europe! At the end of an Austin class, he handed out fliers of upcoming classes, one in Provence. “I’ve heard that’s wonderful!” “Eileen, you should come. You’d like it.” He changed my life. I visited with Jerry and Georgia many times, bought his books, and took more classes. On one rainy day in France he crammed us in a room and demo’d greens. On freezing mornings he said dress warmly, but the bus always left promptly. I revisited the Pont du Gard after first being awed with him. Then I taught classes there as well! Bless you, dear Jerry, for selfless sharing of your gifts. Put down your brush and Rest In Peace.

  8. I just learned of Jerry’s passing from his dear wife, Georgia. We met many years ago when he taught a collage workshop for the Georgia Watercolor Society. We stayed in touch over the years, and I’ve always enjoyed his faith-filled and uplifting messages as well as learning about his many travels. Jerry will be greatly missed by many.

  9. Yes, I was a student of Jerry, first at the Jade Fon workshops at
    Asilomar, then in Pleasanton for several more wkshps! I took advantage of his wonderfully creative brain in learning about composition, design and color. I shared a deck with him several afternoons painting at asilomar, and treasured his critiques in the evening. We shared dinner with he and Georgia! My last workshop was about three years ago, and I loved it! Godspeed, Jerry, I miss you already

  10. I just learned that Jerry is I met Jerry Brommer 15 years ago thru Valley Watercolor Society. He inspired me with techniques and a new way of seeing so I could make my own ideas with paint collage and other media come to life better and come to life. His workshops were so fantastic.

  11. I feel so lucky that I just acquired a beautiful painting by this artist. a friend, real estate agent, was getting rid of a woman’s estate. I saw the watercolor and immediately knew it was a very good quality. It was of the Santa Barbara Mission. large scale. My friend gave it to me. when I got it home i saw that the acrylic was badly scratched probably rough handling in the garage. I took it immediately to the frame shop to replace the acrylic. I am thrilled to have this painting and knew nothing about this artist. the back of the painting had his bio and an official label. So now that I have learn that he is a respected artist and had written books too. Well I am just tickled pink!!! I have done art all my life. It is thrilling to acquire something by sheer luck and know enough about art to know it was superior quality. so excited!!!

  12. I have recently received a painting of Mr Brommer’s from my aunt when she passed. Would anyone happen to know if he ever visited Polpero in Cornwall England around 1970

  13. We have a painting of I believe the Cliffs of Moher in our house. It is signed G F Brommer. We found it in an attic of a house we purchased in Syracuse NY. I am wondering if it is an original. I did not notice it on an auction site I viewed of his work. I would like to know more information and if anyone is interested in the painting


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