Jean Broden has been doing art since she was a toddler. Her passion for art started young as she started taking art classes on Saturdays at Moore College of Art & Design. When she was in high school, she participated in every art class that her school offered. This fueled her love for art and she eventually became an Illustrations major at Moore College of Art & Design.
After graduating from college, Broden worked in advertising and graphic design for a couple of years, but she put her career on hold when she became pregnant. The rise of technology made it difficult for Broden to come back to her original career so she started working on her own and eventually got a teaching certificate and started teaching art. She retired from teaching art in June 2019 and now she is focusing on her own art.
Broden is a grandmother so she babysits on Mondays and Tuesdays and she tries to dedicate one or two days of the week to paint. She originally only used drawing as a medium such as charcoal drawings and color pencil drawings. When her daughter started art school at Tyler School of Art, she was inspired by her daughter to start using painting as a medium. She had the opportunity to take a class at Studio Incamminati where she learned a lot about painting.
Broden was an art teacher at Lansdale Catholic and she loved seeing her students transform into great artists.
When asked about how teaching has inspired her, she said “It’s so exciting to me to see my students create something so great. Making that discovery with them about their art inspires my art.”
“I had kids from 9th grade to 12th grade. So you see those students in ninth grade who do not want to be there, come back to my art class in 10th grade, and 11th grade. Then eventually in their senior year, they’re telling me they’re going to art school,” Broden said.
Broden says it’s a great feeling knowing she had such a major impact on a student’s decision to further their art career.
Although being an artist and art teacher is great, Broden has found some challenges that come along with it.
“Art teachers receive zero respect from anyone else,” Broden stated. “All your peers say things like “Oh well you’re just teaching art” As if I’m not developing a curriculum like every other teacher.”
As an art teacher, Broden taught six different levels of art. She finds it interesting how poorly art teachers are treated. It seems as though other teachers disregard the amount of time and energy that art teachers put into their curriculum and no one fully understands what an art teacher does.
Even outside teaching art, Broden has had some challenges with people who think art is not a real career.
“ I had an uncle who would always ask my parents if I’m still doing that “art thing” because he thought I would eventually grow out of it and get a “real” job,” Broden stated.
Although Broden’s uncle was unsupportive of her art career, her parents were always very supportive and encouraging of her art.
Today, Broden gathers her inspiration from old things, objects, and buildings
“I’m the person who wants to go to the flea market and an antique mall to buy old stuff like old fire extinguishers,” Broden stated. “Pretty much anything in my house that is odd, old, or unusual, I have painted.”
Broden loves old objects because she loves the idea that someone has owned the object before and there’s a story that belongs to the object that she does not know about.
“My husband and I love to wander. We walk all over the place. When I see old buildings, I find them interesting because they used to be something,” Broden stated. “Now these buildings are a face of modern condos but you can tell it used to be a bank or warehouse. That is what I love.”
Broden likes to use her art to show the beauty of old objects and buildings.
“I like the idea that I can make a painting of something like a fire extinguisher. And people who would have walked past hundreds of fire extinguishers and not give them a second thought, would look at the painting and find it interesting,” Broden stated. “That’s kind of my thing. To show the beauty in these objects.”
Broden loves how art allows her to follow her heart and what she wants to do. She loves the gratification of having a creative idea about something and being able to make it happen and see it in her art.
“The ability to find a Pillsbury doughboy in my basement, and just paint it. I love it,” Broden stated. “That’s the best part about being an artist; being absorbed in my environment.”
When Broden has the time to paint in her studio, she usually spends the entire day there just painting and listening to music.
“My husband may find me in the studio and ask if we are eating anytime today because I’m in the studio all day,” Broden stated.
Broden would love to be featured in a big art gallery and she’s looking forward to having more solo shows in the future.