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“Three days with Maureen helped me find my former artistic self.”

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Kate MacKinnon is one of those unusual people who thrive on learning and never stop. She just spent three days in the studio with Maureen and got stuck into a new challenge: printmaking. As with everything else, she’s serious about it.

Kate graduated with a degree in psychology from Hobart William Smith Colleges, a great little liberal arts school in upstate New York, then hitchhiked around Europe for four months before going to work in 1989 for Chase Manhattan Bank–which later became part of JP Morgan Chase–and stayed there until 2017 when she took an early retirement.

She seemingly came out of that experience unscathed. She’s not the least bit “bankish;” in fact she’s eminently normal. So how did she manage it? “I always worked in technology,” she says, “and I was surrounded by intelligent people. I learned on the job, from them. I had some people skills.” Kate underrates herself. Her people skills are such that she could swim in shark-infested waters if she had to.

Asked what she discovered working with Maureen she replies, “I discovered how much she knows about printmaking and, just as important as that, how willing she is to share her knowledge. Time spent with Maureen in the studio one-on-one not only teaches you printmaking. She also conveys some rich lifestyle wisdom. Some of it’s Spanish, some of it’s of her own creation. She’s living every artist’s dream.”

“One of the great things about working with Maureen is the accommodation. It’s a cabin built into a mountainside with great comfort, workspace, privacy and views. I slept well the first night and on the second day started taking siestas. And there’s an added attraction. It’s just 40 steps–I counted them.–from the studio.”

 

 

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A Fun-and-Easy Show in Our Village This Summer

I’ve been invited to exhibit during the Semana Cultural (Cultural Week) runup to our  village’s summer fete. I’ll be showing a good friend from here, Inma López. We inaugurate the show on Sunday, the 29th of July and it’s on through the month of August. I haven’t exhibited in a long time but this time it’s like everything else in our pueblo, friendly, fun and easy. The town hall installed beautiful new lighting in the exhibition space and came up to the house with a truck to pick up my work.

Here are the pictures Mike made for my part the catalog, along with some of Inma and me after the hanging. She’s a great person to work with. More than 30 years ago, when I was giving outdoor painting classes to the kids in the village, she was one of the participants–at the age of 14.

See you there if you can make it. If not, Mike will make some pictures at the inauguration and post them here.

 

 

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Three Experienced Artists Discover Solar Plate Secrets in My Studio

Maruja Cantos, Carmen Lopez-Nieto and Isabel Manteca left yesterday after spending time with me in my studio exploring the creative possibilities of solarplate printmaking. Solarplate has an undeserved bad reputation because it is so often limited to simply reproducing photographs, which reduces the results of the technique to bad photocopies.
For me the secret of quality solarplate prints is to create your images directly on the acetate, taking care to balance the contrasts and assure clear linework. What you do not achieve on the acetate will not appear in the print. I also place a lot of emphasis on the creative printing of the plates. There are so many options when it comes to printing solar plates.
Working with professional artists, given their years of experience with images, becomes an intensive collaborative experience. It’s also fun.
On the last morning, Mike and I accompanied them to the village churrería for a breakfast of churros, the Spanish version of irresistibly unhealthy fried batter. Breakfast ended with the traditional flurry of Spanish goodbye hugs and kisses and they were off, all promising to come back soon. I hope they do. They were all such delightful people.

 

An International Group of Young Artists from IB Bremen Get Into Inked Plates

Brenda Eubanks-Ahrens is back this year with the cream of her art class from the International Baccalaureate School from Bremen, Germany, eight young people with artistic leanings. I’m always impressed when I see just how serious they are about image making. It’s so satisfying working with these kids. For most of them it’s the first time they’ve ever been in an artist’s studio, and I feel privileged to have introduced them to their first one. Perhaps a bit of art magic will stay with them throughout their lives.

The weather was perfect; we ate out on the terrace in the shade of the grape vines every day. Mike was the cook and almost didn’t have enough time to make the photographs. In the end he was able to supplement those he made with some that my assistant, María José, made with her cell phone. (Thank you María José.)

Here are the photographs:

 

 

 

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As close as I can remember, Lorna Ryan-Burden came to work in my studio with me the first time in 2011. This talented Australian artist came with her husband, Roger, who researched a lot of tapas bars with Mike, while Lorna delved into solar-plate and liquid metal printmaking with me in the studio.

A couple of years later they stopped by again, on their way from Australia to England to visit family. By then Lorna had evolved her techniques a lot and won a few printmaking prizes around Australia. She was full of the enthusiasm that comes from winning prizes and selling work.

I was surprised and delighted last fall when I received an email from Lorna saying they were planning to come back to Europe in the spring of 2018 and could they stop by for a week in The Gallinero and some creative printing practice with me in the studio. They have just left after a very productive week. Have a look at the photos Mike made in the studio shortly before they left. Already we’re looking forward to their fourth visit from Australia.

Thanks for commenting and sharing.

Making an Etching

How Long Since You’ve Seen This Excerpt from “Goya’s Ghosts?”

Those were the good old days. That said, it’s surprising how little has changed.

Printmaking with Kids

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Children Loose in My Studio with Indelible Felt Pens

Our friends ask me frequently, “When are you going to do a workshop for children?I would love for our kids to participate.” So last Saturday I invited  a group of friends’ kids, along with our own grandchildren, to a day of printmaking in my studio. Some of them didn’t really know why they were here; they were sent. Some were frankly reluctant at first.

How does one overcome that reluctance and get them centered on the work. I found out a long time ago that it’s not so complicated as it seems. You put a sheet of acetate in one hand and a felt pen in the other and tell them to do whatever they like. No art teacher ever told them that before and it makes them feel empowered. That, and seeing their first print, maintains their enthusiasm.

Aside: One of the fathers was there when I passed out the materials, actually a well-known local painter. He stood over his daughter and started giving her instructions.  I suggested he might be more comfortable out in the sunshine and she immediately got seriously to work. Moral to the story: Children are actually people and people like freedom.

After creating their first image, seeing it burned on a solarplate and run through an etching press onto paper, they wanted to do more printss. I couldn’t keep up with them. The only way to slow them down was to announce lunch. What do kids like to eat? Anything followed by chocolate pudding.

They all went home with a couple of prints, some more, and a new  experience under their belts. The parents were also delighted. Some of them actually expressed an interest in doing some prints themselves.

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Photography by Miguel Ángel Martínez and Mike Booth

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Thanks for commenting and sharing.

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by Mike Booth

In an Intensive Workshop with Maureen

New Zealander, Wendy Kerr, is an experienced printmaker. She also likes to travel. She showed up in Granada recently for an intensive week of collaborative printmaking with Maureen.

They worked together on refining Wendy’s solarplate techniques. In the beginning Wendy was worried about the suitability of her drawings. Maureen said to her, “Don’t worry about your drawing, let’s just have fun.” Thus unchained, Wendy began to make prints, to play with inked crumpled newspaper (previously used for cleaning plates) and to experiment with chine collé (The Italian term is more fun: “fondino.”) and other creative printing techniques.

Towards the end of the week Wendy said, “I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun making prints,” adding, “I don’t think I’ve ever worked more intensely, either.”

When I dropped her at the Granada train station I said, “Come back and see us when you can.”

Her answer: “I’ll be back next year.”

Here are a few photographs.

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I recently received this lovely note from Wendy. I’m proud to share it with you:

Back in New Zealand and now remembering the wonderful printmaking experience I had with Maureen (and let’s not forget Mike)’.

Her marvellous richly resourced studio is a printmakers heaven. All those goodies stashed away just waiting to become someone’s best print ever. Most printmakers are lovers of paper and Maureen’s collection of wonderful print papers, as well as her ‘museum’ of tissue and other interesting papers and materials for chine colle etc are an inspiration to creativity.

Maureen’s skills and talents are a rich resource for the visiting printmakers too. She gave freely of her wide experience and guided me to create some very good work.

I loved being ‘’ín residence”. The accommodation is delightful; peaceful and picturesque, and just a skip down the steps each day to the studio.

Thank you Maureen and Mike. Hope to see you again next year. Wendy.

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by Mike Booth

Ever Been Poleaxed by Delight?

For many summers we’ve been driving up to the forest above a neighboring village to gather pine cones for starting fires. They’re ideal for the job, dry and resinous. We need them as the firewood we use—olive, almond and live oak—is hard to light and in wintertime all of our heating and most of our cooking is done on wood fires. Sometimes we take along a picnic. One time we were up there in a sunny clearing enjoying a potato omelette and some red wine while our two little terriers ran around chasing lizards and butterflies. When we finished lunch and rolled over on our backs on the blanket, staring aimlessly skyward, we discovered a pair of golden eagles circling quite a bit lower than usual. They were thinking about lunch, too.

Prohibition

A couple of years ago it occurred to the forestry authority to prohibit collecting anything in the natural park forests. But we still need pine cones, so I came up with a business plan. I would drive up there before dawn on a Sunday morning, while Smokey Bear was still in bed, and load the back of the car with big 100-liter black plastic garbage bags full of pine cones.

It’s a half-hour drive up there from our house and when I left last Sunday at 7:00 a.m. it was 19º down there and a bracing 13º up on the mountain. I turned off on a forestry trail, followed it for a kilometer and parked at the edge of the road. There were enough plump pine cones within a 30-meter radius to fill the four bags that would fit in the back of the car. After scurrying around filling two of them I sat down on a carpet of pine needles for a break. Then it struck me: the silence, the solitude, the pine-scented air… I should come up here more often.

Churros and Glee

Add to that the larcenous glee of stealing the pine cones and you have most of the makings of a perfect Sunday morning. All that was lacking was a double coffee and a plate of the fried batter rings the Spanish call “churros,” and I would see to that at the bar on the way down.

I was headed due south on the dirt trail when I burst out of the woods and found myself on the rim of a great bowl, looking down into a vast valley full of valleys crosslit from the east by the morning sun. Then, as I lifted my gaze I was confronted by one of our old friends, the eagles, soaring low in the distance beneath seven layers of mountain ridges receding into the haze of the upper reaches of Sierra Nevada.

Self Help

I was almost down to the level of the Río Quentar at the bottom of the valley, only half listening to a Spanish self-help guru on Sunday-morning radio discussing the healing effects of nature when a “cabra montesa” (Spanish ibex) appeared in front of me, like a traffic warden, securing the road for her half-grown kid from last spring’s brood, who trotted out of the bushes behind her. Maybe I’ll go back again next Sunday.
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Good morning Frances

I found this note below written in my visitors’ book a few days after Frances and Mike Parker left. It made me so proud I want to share it with you.

Teachers are born with a gift and you have this gift in bucket loads.

How can I ever thank you enough for your energy, talent, passion, wisdom and generosity? I have learnt so much from you in such a short time. Not just about technique and process, much deeper lessons in how to live an artistic and creative life, lessons that I will take with me and draw on to enrich my work and relationships.

The studio space, the adorable Gallinero, the village, the river and most of all Mike and your hospitality and generosity have made our visit so memorable.

Frances & Mike Parker

Thank you for your too-kind words, Frances. I wish you and Mike the greatest success wherever you go, whatever you do. I suspect you’re going to etch a deep mark on Australian printmaking.

Not having done fine art prints before she’s making up for lost time.
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Tasmanian artist, Frances Parker, and her husband, Mike, arrived last Sunday. Monday morning at nine she stepped into my studio and, after a 15-minute introduction, sat down to make her first print. At the end of that day she saw it come out of the etching press, having made not a single wrong move. The print could have been made by a professional. It was clear to me then that she was an experienced and talented artist who had been needing to make fine-art prints for a long time.

It’s the end of the week now, and we’ve just put the last of her work in the press so she can take it home nice and flat. Her new house includes beautiful studio space and a nearby friend has an etching press where she can also work. I’m looking forward to seeing the prints she produces over the next few years.
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Frances and Mike had unusually good luck as the dates of their visit coincided with the annual “Fiestas Patronales” in our village. (You can see my husband Mike’s photos of one night of the fiesta here.) So every evening there were lots of activities, lots of music and dancing and lots of exotic tapas with the beer, in all an intensive course in fiesta.

Photos by Mike Booth and Mike Parker

.Thanks for sharing.

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Watch This Young Artist

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One day in 1770 when Captain Cook was sailing past a little island on the northeast coast of Australia his compass started misbehaving. He presumed it had to do with deposits of magnetic minerals found there and named the place “Magnetic Island.” (Those were the days when the Brits could name and claim territories just by sailing past them.) In the end it turned out not to be magnetic, but never mind. 

Two and a half centuries later Chelsea Candy was born there and grew up to be one of the most authentic people we have ever met. Her effortless manner of just being herself makes the people around her feel more like themselves, a delightful event when it (seldom) happens. Twenty-nine years old now, she’s built a studio beside her house and has decided to become a printmaker. After working with her for 10 days I’m sure she will succeed.

Chelsea showed up here a couple of weeks ago to extend and polish her printmaking skills. I have seldom seen an artist so well centered and hard working. Driven by an overriding enthusiasm to learn as much as she could Chelsea was in the studio every morning and afternoon turning out traditional acid etchings, solarplate and liquid-metal prints (See below, though her best prints, made on the last day, missed getting photographed.)

So busy she was making prints that she didn’t even get to see the Alhambra, the one excursion here that nobody misses. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I’ll see the Alhambra next time.”

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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.