Archive for May, 2015

Mary Marjerrison, Italy/USA

Mary, originally from the U.S., moved with her husband to Italy where they have taught in international schools for many years. Formerly an art teacher, today she is on the management staff of the International Baccalaureate school in Milan and tries to find the time to stay in touch with art. That’s what brought her to my studio in March of 2011. Mary took advantage of her afternoons here to prepare the solarplate acetates for the following morning. Perhaps her efficiency in the studio also had to do with the fact that she didn’t have a lot of experience with solar plates and was eager to learn. It’s often more difficult to work with people who already know a lot about the subject. I think she made more successful prints in one week with me than most artists make in two. Even so, Mary insists that she didn’t have enough time and that she needs to come back and do some more work as soon as possible. Here are some photos of her experience here.

 From the visitors’ book: “I can’t imagine a more lovely, inspiring, gentle, fulfilling way to spend a week! Your stories and your life have touched me deeply–unforgettable, really.  Thank you ever so much for your generosity and for passing along your expertise. Teaching is a grand gift and you have given it with gusto. You are right, a week is too short. All too soon the scent of olive wood smoke will be gone from my clothes, but the soul of this experience will not be washed away. P.S. Many thanks for the wonderful tea breaks.” .

Michele Bennett, Sydney, Australia

The visit of Michelle and her charming and talented husband, Claudio, was actually a layover on their way from the U.K. to Australia. Michelle’s day job is as a graphic designer–fascinating in that she can take it with her in a laptop wherever she goes. Working with her was a pleasure as her eye for graphic design adapted quickly to fine art. I am always saying that the first criterion for good printmaking is that it be graphic. Towards the end of their stay Michelle said to me, “Do you give painting lessons? I would love to learn to paint.” So we spent the last two days of their stay painting together out on the terrace over my studio. One day Mike invited some friends over and made a paella. Claudio and a guitarrist friend treated us to an after-lunch jam session right at the table. Delightful! The latest news from Australia is that we may be seeing Michelle and Claudio back in Europe before too long. That would be great.

From the visitors’ book: “I certainly won’t forget this experience. Meeting you Maureen has been a great gift. No only through all the learning of printmaking and painting but also with the friendship I’ve gained. I’m just so glad Claudio and I came. It’s been the perfect beginning of our new chapter in life. Thank you so much; I will never forget it!”

Michelle Ringgold

Michelle Ringgold included a workshop with me in her Big Dream Tour of Europe in 2010. Besides being a formidable photographer–so good that Mike was concerned that she did all of her pictures with her iPhone instead of a “proper camera”–the work that Michelle did with me in the studio was poetic and inspired in her own feelings and experiences. Shortly after she arrived Michelle mentioned  that she suffered from chronic insomnia. She had even resorted to a sleep clinic in Seattle where they covered her head with sensors and wires and wished her a pleasant night’s sleep. “I still can’t sleep,” she said. A couple of mornings later she commented joyously, “I slept all night!” By the end of her stay she was having regular siestas after lunch. We decided that the best medicine for insomnia was art-induced happiness.

From a blog comment: “I so enjoyed my stay in the the lovely Gallinero. Its beautiful and serene surroundings left me renewed and relaxed. Maureen and Mike are wonderful people and fun to spend time with. Cherished are my memories of printmaking in Pinos Genil!”


Nevine Sultana, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Nevine, a print collector and promoter of young artists from her country, Bangladesh, is here now, in the middle of a month’s stay in the Gallinero. She has just finished a two-week workshop in my studio and has been surprised by the quality and originality of the work she has turned out. She’s already bought a new etching press as soon as she gets home she’ll be breaking it in. The first one she donated to the art department of the University of Rajshahi. This is Nevine’s first visit to Spain and her childlike sense of delight permits her to make the most of it. “Spain is wonderful,” she says. “It’s like being in a movie!” She particularly enjoyed a big family outing in the country including a paella made over an open fire. Nevine’s other discovery during her stay here has been Dolly, our eight-month-old terrier pup. Until now Nevine never really understood what dogs were for, but she has formed a profound friendship with Dolly.

From the visitors’ book:

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 miss her so much. I really enjoyed my stay here and look forward to coming back. Mike, a big thank you for taking such good care of me. The paella was amazing! Maureen a big thank you for all your kindness!

Photos by Mike Booth and Nevine Sultana

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Mel & Bernice Strawn, Salida, Colorado, USA

Mel and Bernice Strawn are a young couple whose entire lives have been dedicated to art. He taught at universities in Michigan, Colorado and, I think, Chicago. She is a painter and sculptor with a long trajectory of incredibly imaginative and delicate work. When Mel retired from teaching they made their home outside Salida, Colorado, high in the Rockies, where they still live. Mel has the honor of being one of the world’s very first digital artists.

He and B came to the Gallinero and my studio in February of 2011 to work on solarplate prints. Mel had already done some solar work but, tireless researcher that he is, he wanted to delve further. Working with them was a delight and a learning experience for me as Mel questioned and experimented every step of the way, while B did what she is: pure creativity.

We’re still in touch via email and Mel is still experimenting with new solar plates. (The manufacturers should supply him with plates and pay him for  publishing his findings!) Thanks for coming, Mel and B. It was a pleasure to meet and work with you. You’re two wonderful role models for the creative life.

Here’s a longer article on the Strawns from the Colorado Central Magazine.

From the visitors’ book: “My husband, Mel, and I have stepped out of the cold February weather of Colorado to enjoy the sun on the little deck to draw, work on prints and sip a little afternoon wine.  The view across the valley to the south dips to the River Genil  and then up the steep terraced hillside carpeted with green and glowing with blooming almond trees. The Booths have cultivated an exotic garden here which immediately captivated me.  The local nopal, prickly pear cactus clumps, are fascinating and I did several prints based on those forms. In Maureen’s studio you can try out different approaches to printmaking and with her help you can find one that relates to the direction of your art. Maureen and Mike are very generous in their concerns for your comfort and the success of your art goals. We couldn’t have asked for more caring and attentive hosts.

Bernice and Mel Strawn, March 2011


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Carole Pearson, UK

Carole Pearson is a English painter and printmaker who came to my studio for a week last summer after a two-week walking holiday in Andalusia. As well as being an engaging person, she’s a born artist who took to the studio like a natural. By the end of the week we were soul sisters and she’s coming back at the end of this month (May, 2015) to mount a joint exhibit with me at my new mini-gallery and studio.

Here are some of her observations from her stay in the Gallinero:

Instead of going to art school, I went  to work in a bank. Not that I miss formal art training. I’ve always suspected–and this week working with Maureen in her studio has confirmed–that my work is more original for not having entered into the system. What Maureen made clearer than ever to me was that what an artist expresses sincerely is all valid.

I really had no idea what to expect, beyond an etching press and a nice person whom I had been corresponding with by email. But in the end it was a tremendously fulfilling experience. I’m convinced that I’ve advanced more than a year in printmaking in just one week’s intensive work with Maureen. Working one on one with a master is such a luxury.

From the visitors’ book: “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.”

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