In all my years of teaching printmaking Chika Niinuma has been a solitary case for me. It started with a brief email:
I just want to ask you if I can experience a copperplate print while I am staying at Granada. Do you have any class for beginners? I just arrived in Granada and am planning to stay here 4-5 days.
I saw some copperplate print art in Nerja and am very interested how to make such a beautiful art.
Thank you and hope to hear from you soon,
Chika Niinuma (from Japan)
I said sure, come on out and we’ll see what we can do. Chika, tall, slender, pretty and with that endearing Japanese manner punctuated with little bows, appeared in my studio the next morning. I asked her if she had done any printmaking before. “No, she replied, “I have never done any kind of artwork before.” So we began. “This is a copper plate.”
Over the next three days Chika metamorphosed from a timid, uncertain absolute beginner into a blossoming printmaker. She thought she couldn’t draw. I convinced her she could. From there it was all downhill for her. Best of all she seemed to be enjoying the experienece immensely. She was almost another person. After a long first morning´s work and lunch I suggested she have a rest. She awakened three and a half hours later. “I don’t normally sleep that well,” she said, “and never during the day.” I told her, “·Mike says the best medicine for insomnia is happiness.” “Oh yes,” she said, “I was so happy this morning!”
Here are some photographs:.
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Friends Nostalgia, Better than Apple Pie
I was thumbing idly through the visitors’ book in the Gallinero the other day and I was touched by many of the observations made by the remarkable people who have stayed here and worked with me in my studio over the past few years. Here are some of their too-kind comments that moved me.
Phil Clark, Wales
To Maureen and Mike
Thank you so much for a great two weeks learning new techniques. We always enjoy learning and finding new and exciting ways to print. The print studio is a great space to work. Thank you for the great tapas trips and spas.
You are both very kind people and thank you for sharing your knowledge.
Diolch yn fawr.
Phil and Hilary, Wales
Jess Klausen, New Zealand
Mike & Maureen,
Thank you so very much for hosting me these last two weeks. I will never forget your generosity. I have learnt so much about Spain, printmaking and myself. I am honored to be the first New Zealander.
So many doors have been opened for me and I am excited for the future, thanks to you. So thank you and thank you. I hope to be back.
.Nevine Sultana, Bangladesh
To Maureen & Mike
I had such a wonderful time at your place. The Gallinero was such a treat and the studio was amazing. Dolly was an extra bonus. I will be missing her so much.
Mike, a big thank you to you for taking so much care of me. Your paella was amazing.
Maureen, a big thank you for all your kindness. I really enjoyed my stay here and look forward to coming back.
Nevine from Bangladesh
Thank you so much for a wonderful week. I am rested, instructed, filled with creative hope and stuffed with all the goodies you keep bringing me.
And not to forget Mike’s paella–a dream.
Muchas gracias to you both. Adios for now.
Gina and Ross Miller, Australia
A truly enlightening experience from the first moment you step into the studio. Maureen, like all good teachers, has an ability to instill self-confidence and adapt to your own artistic themes, style and concepts.
Her personal success and experience as an artist are considerable but she willingly shares her vast knowledge and experiences of technical processes and aesthetic values. Our folio production over three days seems equal to weeks of work.
Thank you so much for an inspirational journey.
Gina and Ross Miller, Selby, Victoria, Australia
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“Rest? Nooo… We want to get some work done!”
And so they did. If they had been beavers they would have dammed the Thames in two weeks. Hillary, recently retired as the head set designer at the National Theatre in London, is the methodical one and Phil, a theatre director and playwrite, is exhuberant. They are also serious printmakers. This is the sixth workshop they are doing together.
I usually try to find ways of challenging the artists who come to my workshops, but these two challenged me. With their print experience and their formidable talents they had quite clear ideas of what they wanted to achieve and were constantly posing questions, suggesting their own solutions, generally keeping me on my toes.
It was a marvelously intensive two weeks for all three of us. Phil even participated in our village’s annual painting contest. They are leaving on Sunday, and are taking home with them enough prints to mount a small exhibit, should they decide to do that.
It’s been great working with both of you, Hilary and Phil. I hope you come back soon.
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Nikki Braunton, on holiday in Órgiva at the foot of the Sierra Alpujarra (the seaward slope of our Sierra Nevada) with her husband, John Chase and their two girls, came for a visit the other morning. We had only known Nikki through Facebook, so it was lovely when they showed up en persona. I made a chocolate cherry cake–which was still warm from the oven, but they didn’t seem to mind–and we had coffee and tea on Mike’s new table out under the grapevines.
Nikki and John wanted to see my studio so we spent some time down there. John and Mike are both photographers, so they got on like a house afire. The two girls, ages 8 and 12. seemed interested in everything–studio, prints, cats, Cuca–and withstood the boring conversations of older people admirably.
Both John and Nikki work at the Museum of London, he as a photographer, she in the photo archives. “I only do three days a week,” Nikki says, “so it leaves me time for printmaking.” She works at the Greenwich Printmakers open studio. Nikki and John have fallen for Órgiva and have spend their last few summer holidays there. So, we hope to see them back here next year. Happy printmaking, Nikki.
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Karen Urquhart is an Australian girl who arrived at my workshop via London, where she has lived for eight years. Shortly after arriving she declared that her objective with this workshop was to enable her to fill out her printmaking skill set in order to set up her own studio when she got home. That’s a pretty big order for a 10-day workshop, but we set to work systematically using solarplate and liquid metal techniques.
Karen, who had done summer printmaking courses previously, had some grounding in printmaking, but more important than that she had a willingness to work long and hard. We would work mornings from 9:00 until 2:00 and after lunch she would go back down to the studio by herself and work past 9:00 p.m. I think that dedication shows in the work she produced while she was here (see photos below).
Karen has a lot of good ideas of her own, which made our creative time together very interesting.She liked very much the liquid metal technique and found ways of combining it with solar plates to achieve some surprising results.
It’s been great working with you, Karen. Come back and see us when you can.
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We’ll Be Going Back Next Year–Maybe We’ll Be Lucky and Coincide with Karen
After booking a two-week printmaking workshop with me last month it occurred to Karen Urquhart to consult Google to see if there was any activity during her stay in Granada in her other passion : swing dancing. As it happened the fourth edition of the Monachil Festival of Swing was on during last weekend, the first three days of her stay. Monachil is a mountain village about five miles from us as the crow flies (which by road converts into 15 or 20 kilometers down our valley and up theirs). We had never heard of their swing festival so we asked Karen if we could driver her over there and check it out. Mike took along his cameras.
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Most of the Butterflies Were in My Stomach
Miguel Ángel Castillo phoned the other day asking if I wanted to play a small part of a veteran butterfly activist in his latest film. I said sure. Could they shoot in my studio? Sure. Ever since I worked with Juan Carlos Romera on ¡Bive! seven or eight years ago I have been entranced with movie making. (Juan Carlos also made my printmaking tutorial videos.)
Miguel Ángel is a retired science professor who is full of the kind of creative energy the Spanish call “inquietudes.” He is a butterfly activist with his own mariposarium at home, he makes short films and he takes excellent care of his friends. Asked what got him into film making he says, “I always wanted to try it, and when I did I loved the process. Also it’s an opportunity to be in contact with bright, talented young people. I find that very enriching.” Don’t be tempted to think that his film is one of those boring ecological treatises. It actually has an assassination in it. though it lacks a helicopter.
So, Miguel Ángel and his crew of seven technicians and actors showed up yesterday morning and started running cables and setting up lights and the camera. It was a hot day and it took us till 3:00 p.m. to shoot what was was essentially three scenes, so we were thirsty, worn out and starving when we finished.
Miguel Ángel was right on cue. “Where’s the nearest place to get a nice lunch?” he said. “I’m inviting.” Mike suggested Casa Guillermo, just down the hill in our village. The food is good there and we could sit at the tables on the river’s edge. The meal which lasted from three until five, included a wonderful selection of Andalusian soul food: jamon serrano, pipirrana salad, grilled morcilla and alonganiza, churrasco steak, chicken and ham croquetas, pitchers of beer and assorted soft drinks; one fundamentalist actually drank water, with ice cream and kinky little cylindrical cakes for dessert) lasted from three until five.
One of the best dishes was papas a lo pobre, (“poor man’s potatoes) sliced potatoes with green peppers stewed in quite a lot of olive oil. Jordi, the sound man from Valencia, wrinkling his nose disapprovingly, asked, “What’s that puddle under the potatoes, oil?” “Yes,” I said, handing him a slice of bread. “Here, dip some bread in it,” and I showed him how it was done. Jordi became an instant devotee of papas a lo pobre and an expert olive oil soaker upper. (Don’t try this at home with just any old olive oil. Ideally it should be the silky golden aceite de oliva virgen extra from our village, Pinos Genil.)
The crew had a two-hour drive back to Almería, but Mike and I were home in less than five minutes, stripped off as we were descending the garden stairs, showered in the hose, dried off and hopped into bed, where we stayed for hottest three and a half hours of a 39ºC (102.2F) day. There’s nothing wrong with a day in which you get up from your siesta (just a bit groggy) at 9:00 p.m.
Posted in Film making Granada, Grabado Granada, Maureen Booth, Miguel Angel Castillo, Pinos Genil, Printmaking in Spain | Tagged Maureen Booth, Miguel Angel Castillo, printmaking courses Spain, printmaking in Granada | 1 Comment »
You’ve seen Pinos Genil in the old days in the previous post. Here’s what Pinos and its people look like today, summer and winter.
Here are a few links to Somos Pineros posts on contemporary Pinos:
Posted in Fiestas Pinos Genil, Maureen's World, Pinos Genil, Printmaking Courses Spain | Tagged Maureen Booth, Pinos Genil People, printmaking courses Spain | Leave a Comment »
People ask, “Why did you come here? Why did you stay?”
The answer is straightforward enough. We liked Spain, at least the version of the country and its people we encountered in our village, Pinos Genil. And Spain seemed to like us. We arrived here in the fall of 1969. (“Ha llovido,” say the Spanish. “It has rained since then.”)
Mike started making photographs from the beginning, especially of the events in the pueblo: the fiestas, romerías, harvests, etc. He recently digitalized his old negatives and started publishing them on a photo-blog, SomosPineros.com. In case you’re interested in seeing what our village and our neighbors looked like a few decades ago I’m going to upload a few pictures here and give you some links to posts on Somos Pineros.
Later, in a second post, I’ll show you some recent pictures from this year and last, so you can see how things have changed around here. Here we go.
Here are some links to posts about the old days in Pinos:
Stop back in a couple of days to see pictures of Pinos Genil today.
Posted in Fiestas Pinos Genil, Maureen Booth, Maureens printmaking workshops, Pinos Genil | Tagged Maureen Booth, Pinos Genil Granada | Leave a Comment »
It was such a beautiful morning yesterday that Mike took his camera and macro lens out in the garden. The red flowers and baby fruit are from our pomegranate tree. Spanish for “pomegranate” is “granada,” by the way. A neighbor gave us a cutting of the blue morning glories on the right many years ago. They came with a warning: “Be careful, they can take over your garden.” They did. The wispy little white flowers are honeysuckle. They form banks in the garden and perfume the atmosphere out there all summer. The yellow star is a zucchini flower. We put zucchini in everything. The two yellow flowers are some sort of squash, which appeared on top of the compost heap. Our lemon tree is called a “limonero lunar” in Spanish. It flowers every month so during most of the year we have both flowers and fruit. Here’s the pictures.
P.S. This one’s for cousin Carole.
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Here’s the second half of the photographs from the IB Bremen printmaking workshop 2016.
Posted in Grabado Granada, IB Bremen, Maureens printmaking workshops, Pinos Genil, Printmaking Courses Spain, Printmaking in Spain | Tagged Maureen Booth, printmaking courses, printmaking Granada, printmaking Spain, printmaking workshops, solar-plate printmaking | Leave a Comment »
Brenda Eubank-Ahrens returns to my studio for the fifth (or is it the sixth?) consecutive year with a new group of students from her art class (two of whom were here last year) at the IB School of Bremen, Germany. We both look forward to these visits. It gives so much satisfaction to see young artists blossom in a new setting with new techniques. And the results can be surprising. (You will be able to see the display of their work on Tuesday’s post.)
Posted in Coaching for printmakers, Grabado Granada, IB Bremen, Maureen Booth, Maureen's World, Maureens printmaking workshops, Printmaking Courses Spain, Printmaking in Spain | Tagged IB Bremen printmaking, Maureen Booth, printmaking courses Spain, printmaking workshops, solar-plate printmaking | Leave a Comment »
Words and pictures by Mike Booth
A couple of times a month I take Maureen to Granada to restock the prints she sells in a couple of gift shops who cater to mainly tourists. While she attends her clients I wait for her in Plaza Nueva, and practice my street photography. Plaza Nueva is one of Spain’s–and the world’s–finest people-watching spots. Yesterday was one of those days.
When she finishes her work we usually go for a drink to one of our favorite bars–Los Diamantes–conveniently located in the square. The bar was full to overflowing but after just a couple minutes’ wait we spotted two seats at one of their long, community-style tables and sat down next to a couple of adolescent Asian girls. They turn out to be from the Philippines. We started chatting to them and “a drink” turned into half a dozen. We never drink that much any more but the moment was right for sipping white wine and laughing. Oh, and eating the Diamantes tapas, some of the finest in the land.
The conversation was like the ones you have with strangers on airplanes, wide ranging and sincere. I ask one of the girls what work she did in Philippines. “Shopping centers,” she said. I couldn’t decide if she was a check-out girl or a window decorator. I opted for the upper road: “Oh, you are an office worker involved in finance or publicity…”
“No,” she replied, “I have teams for all of that. We build shopping centers. I just direct the teams. Suddenly my 19-year-old student on a gap year was a 31-year-old professional.
As I already had my camera out I continued to make pictures in the bar. Here are the results:
Click on the images to open a slide show
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Mike ran across a video on the web the other day and he immediately called me to have a look at it. It was an ad for Graydin , a coaching service (with offices in New York and London) that advises high schools around the world on ways of empowering their students. According to their website their service is founded on the premise of “Ask, don’t tell.”
As I sat down at the computer he said, “See what this reminds you of.” This fascinating video lasts less than three minutes but in that time it became clear to me what he was driving at. My reply to him was: “This is what I do.”
The truth is I never thought of myself as a coach, nor my work as coaching. I’ve been a printmaker for more than 30 years and a dozen years ago I began offering summer printmaking courses in my studio. As time went by my workshops turned more and more into mentoring for individual artists. It just seemed to make sense. Being able to give my undivided attention to an artist (whether a student, a beginning artist, or a full professor of art) and to work collaboratively for two straight weeks was so much more productive than a group workshop. We advanced so much faster and farther. And my students really noted–and appreciated–the difference.
So, if you look at the top of this page you’ll find a new subtitle under Printmaking Courses in Spain. It says “One-on-One Coaching for Print Artists.”
Posted in Coaching for printmakers, Maureen Booth, Maureens printmaking workshops, Printmaking Courses Spain, Printmaking Granada | Tagged Coaching for printmakers, Maureen Booth, printmaking in Granada, printmaking Spain, printmaking workshops | Leave a Comment »
May first every year is festive in Granada, but this year it was even moreso. Granadinos, including those of our pueblo, Pinos Genil, celebrated three fiestas on the same Sunday:
- Mothers’ Day (Día de la Madre)
- Labor Day (Día Internacional de los Trabajadores)
- The Day of the Cross (a Spanish rites of spring celebration that they refer to as El Día de la Cruz)
Any one of these commemorations can justify dressing up, going down to the village square, eating and drinking a little too much, singing, dancing, oogling the beautiful young people and generally getting a bit unruly.
What follows is a selection of photographs that Mike shot that day for his Somos Pineros.com (We’re from Pinos!) photo blog.
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Lola Higgins arrived at Maureen’s studio a couple of weeks ago, a timid, uncertain recent graduate from the Edinburgh College of Art, the art department of the University of Edinburgh. She had made a few solar prints there but didn’t like neither the process nor the results very much.
Lola´s plan was to reproduce some of her photographs as high quality solarplate prints. When Maureen suggested going beyond mere reproduction, to start from scratch with freehand drawing in India ink on a laser acetate, Lola’s reaction was: “Draw? I can’t draw!”
With a little bit of encouragement Lola started drawing and never stopped. She went from strength to strength and, with Maureen’s help, turned her drawings into stunning solarplate prints. She finished up after 10 days with a portfolio with which the maestra affirms she should start visiting galleries in London, her home town. (See photos of the prints on the drying racks below.)
After Lola left, Maureen said to an artist friend, “I d0n’t think I’ve ever seen a young artist make so much progress in so little time.”
Posted in Maureens printmaking workshops, Printmaking Courses Spain, Printmaking Granada, Workshops | Tagged Lola Blanche Higgins, Lola Higgins, Maureen Booth, printmaking Spain, printmaking workshops, solar-plate printmaking | Leave a Comment »
Our Big Fat Spanish Birthday Party
Bill and Puri took advantage of her family’s commercial fruit orchard and cortijo outside the Alpujarra village of Órgiva to stage Claudio’s ninth birthday party. Claudio was fully aware of the import of the day. As guests arrived he would inform them one by one: “It’s my birthday!”
The life of the party was Puri’s mother, Pura, who produced both a smashing paella and a giant pan of habas con jamón (just-picked baby broadbeans steeped in olive oil with thinly-sliced salt-cured ham and green onions–a religious experience on Easter Sunday), both cooked over an open fire como Dios manda. Maureen provided her legendary multi-story chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and whipped cream. This year she smothered it with gumdrop wild mice with chubby gumdrop tails, which were a big hit with young kids and old kids.
The guests included Puri’s children–Martín, Carmen and Elías–eight or ten cousins, and a slew of grandparents, aunts and uncles. The kids ran around like cabritos and the old timers, your correspondent included, sat around and ate too much, drank too much, and swapped medical histories.
It was a perfect day for a birthday party: good weather, good food, good company. The best news is that we only have to wait 364 days to do it again. Here’s the pictures:
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The Printmaker from the Oakland Ghetto
Maryly took advantage of a tour of Andalusia with her writing group to tack a workshop with me on the end. She’s glad she did, as together we explored the surprising possibilities of solarplate printmaking and the creative printing of the resulting plates. Maryly was serious about it; she took copious notes.
One of the many stories Maryly had to tell, one that I found extremely interesting, was about her printmaking studio, located in a renovated neon sign factory turned into artists’ studios. It’s located in the middle of what she refers to as “the Oakland ghetto.” Asked if the neighbors were “artist friendly” she affirms, “The whole factory is walled and gated, and there’s space inside to park cars, so the artists don’t have much contact with the locals.” From here it sounds like an interesting setting for creative work.
Here are a few pictures Mike made during Maryly’s workshop.
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The printmaking continues and the results are gratifying
The TASIS artists and photographers surprised themselves with the quality of the work they produced in Maureen’s studio. Have a look:
Hasta luego, TASIS. You’re brilliant.
Posted in Maureens printmaking workshops, Printmaking Granada, Printmaking in Spain, TASIS, Workshops | Tagged Granada, Maureen Booth, printmaking courses, printmaking Granada, printmaking Spain, TASIS in Spain | Leave a Comment »
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…
We’ve had a bit of all that in the past few days but it didn’t slow down the art studets and professors from The American School in Switzerland (TASIS). Twelve students from Italy, Turkey, Mexico, the USA, Russia, Afghanistan, UK, and France have come to Maureen’s studio for an intensive five-day introduction to solarplate printmaking.
Art professor Martyn Dukes and photography professor Frank Long have returned this year with another crop of young artists and photographers. Some of the photographers were asking themselves what they were doing in a printmaking course, but when they saw the first prints made by tracing over photographs on acetates, burning them on photosensitive plates and putting the plates through an etching press on beautiful paper, they quickly changed their minds.
Here’s the first snapshots from day one. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at some of the work they’ve done.
Posted in Maureen Booth, Printmaking Courses Spain, TASIS | Tagged Maureen Booth, printmaking courses, printmaking Granada, printmaking Spain, printmaking workshops, TASIS | Leave a Comment »
Your first portfolio is a milestone. This is the point where you’ve practiced enough printmaking techniques to make a respectable showing with your first formal project. Your confidence has grown to an almost viable level—along with an equally-heightened case of nerves and apprehension. This is the big time. What subject should you choose? What techniques should you employ for this first effort? If I may offer my advice, choose a subject that is familiar to you, something you love and is close at hand. As for techniques, keep it simple. You’re just starting out. There’s plenty of time to get fancy as you go along.
Shall I tell you about my first portfolio? It was 1978 and my maestro, José García Lomas (Pepe Lomas to his friends), suggested that I might be ready to make my first portfolio of prints. I had been studying with him at the Rodríguez-Acosta Foundation in Granada for more than two years. Pepe offered to guide me through process of making the portfolio. What a luxury that was.
He was delighted when I told him I had chosen a nonsense poem, The Owl and the Pussycat, by the English artist, illustrator, musician, author and poet, Edward Lear. This was a poem that, for some reason, I remembered vividly from my childhood. Pepe agreed with me that it offered splendid visual possibilities.
I must confess that the five plates that I created for The Owl and the Pussycat were not precisely simple. I worked on them for six months, pulling untold proof prints. Encouraged all along by my maestro, who wanted to see me show off the techniques he had taught me, techniques that I had practiced every weekday morning for more than two years, I went to work enthusiastically. So the etched zinc plates incorporated line work, aquatint, and soft ground. The Rodríguez-Acosta workshop had a wonderful big aquatint box with paddle bellows and we were still in the age of immortality. I suspect we all breathed a lot more resin than was good for us.
Before I even touched the first plate I did sketches for all five of them. Any comments Pepe made were always limited to technical considerations, as he always scrupulously respected his students’ artistic criteria. I started by varnishing five zinc plates and lightly etching in the basic drawings, then working the plates all up together starting with the aquatint. Though all the plates were different, this approach insured some degree of coherence across the whole portfolio.
We decided on an edition of 50 portfolios and 50 loose sets. Multiply that by five etchings plus a cover illustration and it adds up to 600 prints. Pepe insisted that the whole job be done by Angel and Pepillo, the workshop’s two printing technicians. The artists at the Foundation seldom touched the etching presses. While they did that I went off to find an offset print shop to print the cover text and colophon.
I presented The Owl and the Pussycat along with other work in an exhibition at Granada’s wonderful Palacio de la Madraza, the 14th-century building opposite the cathedral. La Madraza housed Granada’s first university and belongs to the University of Granada today.
This was the most successful portfolio I ever did.
Posted in Grabado Granada, Maureen Booth, Maureens printmaking workshops, Obra grafica Granada, Printmaking Courses Spain | Tagged Maureen Booth printmaker, Print Portfolio tips, printmaking Granada, printmaking Spain, printmaking workshops Granada, printmaking workshops Spain | 2 Comments »
And What You Can Do About It in Your Own Work
How many artists have come into my studio on the first day proclaming, “No, I’m not interested in solarplate. I’ve done it and I didn’t like the results.” Then I get out some solarplate work that I and other people have done in my studio and the negativism turn to questions. “How did you get those whites? How did you achieve those velvety blacks and the whole range of tones? These are beautiful prints!”
This happens regularly. Why? Because solarplate prints are (apparently) so quick and easy to make. You just scan or photograph an existing image (sketch, watercolor, photograph…), print it on a transparent acetate with a laser printer, sandwich it under glass with a photosensitive polymer plate, and expose it under sunshine or a UV lamp. Wash and dry it, pull a print of it on an etching press and, bingo, you’ve got a solarplate print. Well, almost. What you’ve actually got is a mediocre solarplate print. Given these results most artists never get beyond this point. It’s a shame as solarplates, when prepared with care and criteria, are capable of yielding beautiful work. With them you can either opt for positive intaglio prints using an aquatint screen, or negative relief prints without the screen.
What’s the big secret. There’s no big secret, but there a lot of little ones, and some of the most important have to do with the preparation of the acetate. It’s your all-important original. If you don’t start with a beautiful acetate you’ll never get a beautiful print. Most of the flaws in a typical solarplate print are introduced in the process of scanning. Even if you start out with an image with a proper range of tones–and no watercolor will ever clear this hurdle–the