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More Photographs from IB Bremen’s Printmaking Workshop in Granada with Maureen Booth

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They Arrive as High-School Art Students, but I Think They Leave Feeling a Little Bit More Like Artists,

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Like half of the artists who arrive at my studio affirming that they can’t draw, many of Brenda’s students were shy about their drawing skills. So I dispelled that doubt at the very beginning. “Don’t worry about drawing, ” I said, “Just make some images on these acetates and we’ll burn them onto solar plates. You can used textures, impressions, text, and you can even draw! The results were gratifying both for them and for me. These extremely attentive and polite Bremen young people took immediately to printmaking like ducklings to water.

Mike, who was also the cook, made these photographs on their last day. As there are “too many photos” he has suggested publishing half of them today and the other half tomorrow. He doesn’t want you choking on them.

(Click on an image to enlarge it and open a slide show.)

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In all my years of teaching printmaking Chika Niinuma has been a solitary case for me. It started with a brief email:

Hello,

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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Homenaje a Maureen

Somos Pineros

Homenaje a Maureen.
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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.

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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.

Jess

.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.

Take care.

Nevine from Bangladesh

Carole Pearson

Maureen,

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.

Carole

Gina and Ross Miller, Australia

Maureen,

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.

Saludos,

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.

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In recent months a couple of my galleries in Granada have been asking, “Could you make us some miniature prints?” These are my first proofs.

 

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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:

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.)

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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.”

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.”

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Our Big Fat Spanish Birthday Party

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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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