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Archive for the ‘Maureen Booth printmaker’ Category

Let’s Talk about the Kitchen

A printmaker isn’t just a printmaker, especially if she’s a woman. She’s often a wife, a mother, a cook and gardener, and more. She might even hold down a job. I have been all of those things and still am most of them. I have a pretty clear idea of what you’re going through, and I’ve got a few suggestions for smoothing your way. I’m going to concentrate on the kitchen this time. I love the kitchen. It’s creative work and at its best it can be fun, even therapeutic. But having to come up with two or three meals every day can be time consuming and tiresome.

My first important suggestion: make your family complicit in the kitchen. If your husband cooks, you’re already a step ahead. If not, teach him. The earlier you start, the better. I recommend the second day after the honeymoon or as close as you can get to that. Here in Spain you almost never find men in the kitchen, except to go for icecubes. There is one shining exception to that rule, the men from the Basque Country, who pride themselves on their cooking. They have dining societies, each with its own dining room and big kitchen where they take turns cooking. Sometimes they even invite their wives and girlfriends. We are friends with a mixed couple. She’s from Jerez de la Frontera (the heart of sherry country), where a man in the kitchen is considered a sissy unless he’s a cook. He is a recently-retired engineer from Bilbao in the Basque Country. These days he won’t let the Jerezana into his kitchen. To be invited to a meal at their house is an honor and a delight.

Hubby cooking.

How to Get the Family on Board

Getting the family up to speed in the kitchen isn’t limited to working with (or on) your husband. The kids are even more important, as there are more of them–if you’re lucky. They’re also important because they’re the ones who carry on the tradition. It’s fun and easy to get them involved in the kitchen when they’re little, letting them stir the pancake batter, knead the bread, or turn the left-over dough from the scones into little jam tarts. Make them know from the beginning that to participate in the joy of cooking they are required to take on the tasks of buying the ingredients and cleaning up. Regarding “cleaning up,” if you can afford it, a little help in the house does wonders for your artwork, even it’s just a couple of days a week. How do you justify this luxury? By taking printmaking seriously, doing professional-quality work and selling it! (I’ll talk a bit about this in a future post…)

My husband, Mike, and I have raised three children, two boys and a girl (who are now two men and a woman. The youngest one turns 50 next month.) They’re all good cooks and they all love cooking–and eating. One day, when the youngest one was about 13, and I was up to my neck preparing an exhibit, I said to him, “Tomorrow you’re going to make lunch. Look through this cookery book and find something you would like to make. Go down to the store and buy the ingredients, prepare the meal and call us when it’s ready.” He made a delicious chicken stew and never looked back. The summer he was 18 he worked in an excellent Chaine de Rotisseurs restaurant at a fine hotel in Hamburg, Germany. They wanted to keep him.

This is the place where I have to say “thank you” to all of our kids. I couldn’t have done it without them.

Our Culinary Debt to Spain

Now that I think about it, the cooking at our house owes a lot to the kitchen traditions of Andalusia, as the eight southernmost provinces of Spain are known. I must confess that we eat more olive oil, chickpeas, lentils and spicy blood sausage at our house than the entire population of your average town in Britain or North America. Spain, with its fabulous variety of fish, fruit and vegetables, is a great place for cooking and eating, which is centered around a hearty mid-day meal–el almuerzo. The heart of that lunch is often a big stewpot of meat or fish with lots of vegetables, legumes, herbs and spices. The Spanish call those stews, comida de cuchara, “spoon food” and they are addicted to it. The first thing any Spaniard demands, when he or she returns home from an extended trip abroad, is a plate of lentil stew. “¡Dáme un plato de lentejas!” Believe it or not, none of our kids, raised eating and making real food, will go near a fast-food restaurant.

The Cocina Económica

In the early seventies, when we renovated the stone farmhouse where we still live, Mike insisted that we have an old-fashioned coal/wood-burning kitchen range, the rough equivalent of an Aga range cooker in the UK. The owner at Granada’s only foundry said, “We used to make lots of those but they went out of fashion. Now we make mainly manhole covers. I think we threw out the molds for the cocinas económicas years ago.” Then he added, “Give me a couple of weeks and I’ll try to find enough loose pieces to make you a kitchen stove.” In the end he managed to make two, one for us and another for our builder. That stove, which we only light in winter, is an endless source of wellbeing. It improved the way we heat the kitchen, as well as upgrading our cooking. Mike always wanted an excuse to keep a stockpot on the boil, and now he had it.

Since then that stockpot has been the key to virtually everything we cook. Over the years we have refined the procedure for making the magic broth. For a long time we had a standing order with our butcher who would save us the nice fresh chicken carcasses after he removed the breasts, thighs and drumsticks. We would feed them to our dogs and cats. One day, Mike was chopping them up for the animals and it occurred to him to throw a couple of them into the stockpot. That quickly became the rule. That winter our lemon tree had a bumper crop and he started taking the odd bag of lemons to our friend, Sergio, for use in his bar in the village square. On one of those deliveries Sergio said, “Miguel, we sell a lot of ham (jamón serrano, a local delicacy) and we have a lot of meaty ham bones left over. Could you make use of some of them?” That was when our stockpot took the Great Leap Forward. We bought a large stainless-steel pan and started making enough stock to freeze. So we are never without.

Not only does a constant supply of rich chicken/ham stock improve everything we cook, it also makes the cooking faster and easier. Do you need a heavenly chicken noodle soup? Just put some stock on to boil and throw some pasta in it. Do you need something more substantial? Start with a liter or so of stock, add some pork ribs or any other meat you have on hand, then sauté some onions and garlic. You can add celery, thyme, parsley and bay leaf if you like. Let it boil for a while, then add potatoes and carrots. While they’re cooking, put together a quick green salad with a vinagrette dressing, and lunch is ready.

“Peas Porridge Hot” Cooking

If you increase the amounts a bit you can also resolve the next day’s meal. Just add some chopped spinach, cabbage or kale and, bingo, you’ve got another meal. Mike calls this “peas porridge hot” cooking, and it’s true. You can extend that stew for more days, though beyond three, it’s abusive. If you’re a vegetarian you can do the same thing. Just start with a rich vegetable stock and add legumes: beans, chickpeas, lentils and whatever else strikes your fancy.

The Spanish don’t eat much tinned food (except for tomate frito–fried tomato–a blight on their kitchens). To make chicken soup they start with chicken. To make a cazuela (a soupy seafood dish with noodles) they start with fish, clams, mussels and calamares pulled from the Mediterranean yesterday. Two of their absolutely finest soups–gazpacho and ajo blanco, for me both world-class cuisine–are made in a blender (originally a mortar and pestle) and served ice cold. Google the recipes next summer and make them. It’s easy. I think you will like them a lot.

Please forgive me if my kitchen suggestions sound like Greek to you. I arrived in Spain in the sixties and took to the place, its people and its cuisine like a duck to a goldfish pond. Maybe none of my well-intentioned advice will work for you in your circumstances. But maybe some of it will.

Before I go I want to mention something I have learned after dealing in my studio with printmakers from all over the world for four decades. The world is not made up solely of countries, at least for some of us, the lucky ones. There’s an additional “nationality” and it’s made up of all the printmakers in the world. A print artist from Slovenia is likely to have more in common with a printmaker from Mexico or Pakistan than she might with her next-door neighbor in Ljubljana. I’m not sure what we should call this phenomenon, a “sisterhood/brotherhood?” Whatever you choose to call it, I know it exists. I’ve experienced it over and over. Its a beautiful thing. And you’re a part of it.

Hasta luego,

Maureen

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Artists’ Sketchbooks Would Be of Interest to Their Psychiatrists

It’s logical. A sketchbook expresses the artist’s most intimate thoughts, feelings and concerns in the most candid, honest way. It’s a path directly into her head and heart. For me this second book (not in chronological order) records my fixation on Diva, the lovely chihuahua pup that our wonderful daughter in law, Puri, gave us three years ago. We’ve had a lot of pets over the years, but none of the dogs were as tiny as Diva–before we had mainly great danes and mastiffs–and that lent her a special attraction. That and her cranky, controlling character and loveable manners. Mike wonders how she manages to fit all that mischief and wisdom into a brain the size of an olive.

Here are the sketches:

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Our granddaughter, Elisa, age about ten. She later
got a fine-art degree from the University of Granada.

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The Sketchbook Copy Project

For years my husband has been threatening to photograph the content of all my sketchbooks. But first we had to find them. One of the fringe benefits of the new shelves from heaven was that a lot of old sketch books turned up. Mike got inspired. He snatched the first book from the top of the pile and took it into his goat-shed studio. A couple of hours later I pay him a visit and he’s teetering on top of a ladder peering through a camera mounted on a copy stand. It turns out that, in order to photograph the larger books he has to raise the camera pretty high. I protest. He replies, “Don’t worry, it’s not dangerous once you get the hang of it.” This is why women live longer than men.

Mike’s intention is to photograph all the sketchbooks and post them here one by one. The photographs in this post are the result of his first trials.

Meanwhile, I get to talk a bit about the importance of sketching, whether in pencil, charcoal or watercolours. Your sketches are your roadmap, your compass, your storyboard, and you should not be without them. No, photographs won’t do. You need live drawings. I find it so distressing when art classes from excellent European schools come to my studio and I find the students copying images from the screens of their cellphones. This is a history clash. I’m way too old. They’re way too young. And there’s no middle ground.

This necessity to have sketches obliges you to make them. For that you have to be prepared at all times. The greatest images appear at the most unlikely–and inconvenient times. So I urge you to get in the habit of carrying a bag with your current sketchbook and pencils, and watercolours if you’re so inclined. At first it will feel cumbersome and conspicuous. Later it will become part of your person. And you will notice the boost it gives to your work. In this recent rediscovery of my sketchbooks I have more that once been tempted to sit down right then and there and turn a 20-year-old sketch into a brand new print.

I could go on and on, but I’ll leave you with the photographs. I’ll be posting more regularly–if my photographer doesn’t fall off the ladder.

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(Como surgió este librito)

(Ver la versión española a continuación…)

It’s an Offspring

Maureen’s Kitchen / La Cocina de Maureen, my recent bilingual limited edition of recipes and hand-pulled, hand-colored prints was a response to a year and a half of semi-stagnation, something I suspect many of us have gone through. I was finally able to convince myself–with a little help from my friends–that the way out of the labyrinth was creative work. Get to work and make something beautiful. The edition was limited to 19 portfolios of 16 recipes and prints, because that was all the large sheets of hand-made etching paper I had left in my studio. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s the simple truth.

The invention worked too well. The edition sold out in three weeks. And I still had requests for more–but there weren’t any more. It was the brilliant idea of Ricardo Calvente, our neighbor and the owner of Granada’s finest print shop, la Imprenta del Arco, to publish the content of the portfolio as a book. Using digital technology and incorporating some images from my sketchbooks to add interest, he could print up however many books I required, as the need arose. These books have no fine-art pretensions but I am, nonetheless, delighted with the results.

The smaller format, the spiral binding and glossy paper, encourage the use of the book in the kitchen. On a kitchen counter the open book will lie flat, and if you spill something on it you can wipe it off with a damp cloth. And it can be sold for a fraction of the price of the limited edition portfolio. It’s not the same, of course, but it is an elegant solution to the problem at hand.

Es un descendiente

Maureen’s Kitchen / La Cocina de Maureen, mi reciente carpeta de edición limitada en inglés y español, de recetas y grabados tirados a mano, fue una respuesta a un año y medio de estancamiento/paralización, algo que sospecho que nos ha pasado a más de uno. Al final pude convencerme a mí misma–con la ayuda de mi familia y amigos–que la salida del labirinto pasaba por el trabajo creativo. Pónte a trabajar y haz algo bello. La edición se limitó a 19 portafolios de 16 recetas e imágenes cada uno, porque no me quedaban más hojas grandes de mi papel favorito de grabado. Sé que eso suena ridículo, pero es la pura verdad.

Al final, el invento funcionó demasiado bien. La edición se agotó en tres semanas. Me quedaban solicitudes de más portfolios, pero no quedaban más. Fue la genial idea de Ricardo Calvente, nuestro vecino y dueño de la mejor imprenta de Granada, la Imprenta del Arco, de publicar los contenidos del portfolio en un libro. Usando tecnología digital e incorporando unas imágenes de mis sketchbooks para añadir interés, él podía imprimir cuantos libros que yo necesitara, según surgía la necesidad. No puedo pretender que estos libritos sean “fine art”. Sin embargo, estoy encantada con los resultados.

El formato más pequeño, la encuadernación con espiral, y el papel brilliante, animan a usar el libro en la cocina. En una superficie de cocina el libro abierto se queda plano y si se ensucia, se puede limpiar con un trapo mojado. Y se puede vender por una fracción del precio de la edición limitada. Desde luego, no es lo mismo, pero no deja de ser una solución elegante al problema.

(Click to enlarge, haga clic para ampliar.)

How to Get your Copy of This Charming Little Book

I’m asking 15€ for the book. There are two ways to get it:

  1. If you’re within striking distance of Pinos Genil (eight kilometers from Granada on the old Sierra Nevada road), just drop by the studio and we’ll have a coffee or something and you can take your book home with you.
  2. If you can’t make it in person I’ll be happy to send it to you, and you’ll just have to pay the postage. Drop me an email (maureenluciabooth at gmail.com.) and we’ll discuss the arrangements.

Como hacerse de un ejemplar del libro

Pido 15€ por el librito. Hay dos formas de adquirirlo:

  1. Si puedes acudir a mi estudio en Pinos Genil (a ocho kilómetros de Granada en la carretera vieja de Sierra Nevada) puedes pasar por el estudio, nos tomamos un cafe u otra cosa, y puedes llevar tu libro personalmente.
  2. Si no puedes acudir al estudio, te lo enviaré por correo con mucho gusto. Tendrás que pagar el franqueo. Simplemente, envíame un email (maureenluciabooth arroba gmail.com) y concretaremos el pago y la entrega.

The Presentation

My dear friend, the Spanish poet, Ángeles Mora, will present the book in the Pinos Genil village square on August 4 at 9:00 p.m., during the Pinos Genil Culture Week. You are cordially invited.

La presentación

Mi querida amiga, la poeta de Rute (Cordoba), Ángeles Mora, presentará el libro en la plaza de Pinos Genil el día cuatro de agosto a las 21:00 horas, durante la Semana Cultural de Pinos Genil. Os invito cordialmente.

Thank you for following, commenting and sharing.
Gracias por seguir, comentar y compartir.

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This project wouldn’t have been possible without the invaluable help of my
studio assistant, María José Braojos and her daughter, Silvia Romera Braojos,
as well as Ricardo Calvente Chacón, of the Del Arco Print Shop in Granada.
And, of course, Mike, my photographer, webmaster, and husband.

I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends

Much as I have tried over the past long year to stay positive, I confess it hasn’t always been easy and at times events have taken a toll on my morale. The pandemic took us all by surprise. Life was different and we suspected it would never be the same again, but first we had to survive the virus. (We have a friend who did die–briefly–and came back and told us about it.) We couldn’t see friends and family, which in Spain form the cornerstone of life on this planet. We couldn’t go out for a drink and tapas. Or drive down to the beach. Our life was reduced to a recurring supermarket-pharmacy-laundromat routine. Though, I shouldn’t complain too much. We were never without our inspiring riverside walking path, nor the loving company of Cuca, Diva, Bundy, Rosey and Susu, whom Mike refers to as “our little people.”

As I mentioned before, it was María José who inspired me to get back to work in a serious way. Let me tell a bit about her. She has become for me more of a daughter than a helper. We met 20 years ago when her husband, Juan Carlos Romera, was planning the production of a 38-minute short film called “Bive,” (“Live” in semi-literate Spanish). He needed a foreign woman artist for a story set in a fishing village in the Mediterranean province of Almería. As soon as he saw my studio he said, “You’re the one… and we’ll shoot the studio scenes in here.” María José was his assistant on Bive. Working on the film with Juan Carlos, María José, and his professional crew from Madrid was all new to me. It was hard work during a hot summer, but intensely interesting, and included some good fun. (You can see the complete film here on YouTube.) But I’m meandering again. What makes working with María José so gratifying is her limitless good humor, her sweet demeanor, her careful work, and her readiness to learn. She’s one of the most positive people I’ve ever known.

It Turned Out to Be a Healing Process

So we decided to start on the prints-and-recipes project. I prepared the originals on acetates and when they were all ready María José stepped in to help me burn the plates and pull the prints. That was our usual procedure. What was new in the process was the hand coloring (“illuminating” is the delightful traditional term) of all the prints, for which her help was invaluable. It was an extremely limited edition of 19 portfolios, but each one had 16 prints and they all had to be colored by hand. It was a demanding, meticulous job that required concentration to the exclusion of everything else. That exclusion included all forms of worry, anxiety, or stress.

A few days after we finished illuminating the prints and had wedded them with the introductory texts and the portfolios (which I made to measure myself), and sold the first few books, it occurred to me that I was feeling quite a bit better. People liked the portfolio. I was full of pride and optimism, and had some money jingling in my pocket. I even had some new projects fall into my lap, a couple of portraits and a big job for our village’s new Sierra Nevada tram museum. It seems I have been renewed by a combination of art, work, and loyal friends. I have always prided myself on being a working artist, and this is just one more proof of its miracles.

I wonder if this simple formula might not work for you, too.

P.S. There are still a few portfolios left. If you need one you can contact me via email: maureenluciabooth (at) gmail.com.

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If this picture looks contrived it’s because it is. That girl in the corner is a correspondent for Andalusian television who came to do an interview, and Mike thought it would be nice to put some of my sculptures in the foreground. The pomegranate tree outside my studio door was bearing beautiful ripe, colorful fruit, so why not include that, too? The Spanish would call a mess like this a menjunje or a batiburrillo. The Spanish have some wonderful words. P.S. “Granada” is Spanish for “pomegranate,” in case you were wondering.

Another Sort of Printing, Which Was Also Important(!)

This one-hour video about the birth of Gutenberg’s printing press is only marginally relevant, but we liked it so much, also for Stephen Fry, that I’m sharing it with you here. Just thinking about the effect that Gutenberg’s press and moveable type had on every aspect of life in the entire world makes one dizzy.

Spring Is in the Air

First come the almond blossoms, then the baby ducks in the river. I no longer have to cover my box plants at night, we use much less firewood. The light coming through the glass-pane doors in my studio is gayer and I essentially don’t have to turn the lights on. The animals (we call them the little people) are more active, almost as if they were coming out of hibernation. They do love to hibernate.

I had the second Covid Injection a few weeks ago, so I’m supposedly immune, but until Mike has his second shot in a couple of weeks, we won’t be out of the woods. We’re looking forward to making a big paella and having some friends over. Like the old days. Remember them?

The animals seem to have played a larger role in our lives over the past year. I suppose it’s because we’re living in closer quarters, with a normal-size bed in our Gallinero cabin. Our animals are well loved. You can tell just how well by how much we let them get away with. Ours–two dogs and three cats–get away with murder. Bundy, our young tom cat takes diabolical delight in pawing things off tables and workbenches. It’s usually not too serious, though. They eventurally turn up under a cupboard or a sofa within a couple of months. Cuca, our 14-year-old shi-tsu/grifon cross, was given to us by a friend when she was 10 months old because she resented him going to work. She is an excellent communicator. To inform him of her discontent she would jump up on his bed and pee on his pillow. He was so happy when we told him we’d take her off his hands.

Our animal history hasn’t always been so joyous. Once we gave a kitten to friends. We were happy to do it because they had two lovely children under the age of eight and we thought it would be good for them. The first thing the family did was to lock the kitten in the garage with sufficient kibble and water and took off for a two-week holiday. When they got back and saw how frantic he was they returned him to us. He was very happy to be home. And that wasn’t the only charming pussycat anecdote. Another friend asked for a cat to keep down the rats in his henhouse. So we gave him a half-grown kitten. A month or so later he wanted another one. So we gave him another one. When he came back for a third I said to him, “What are you doing with all those cats?· “Nothing,” he said nonchalantly, “the foxes eat them.” I won’t mention the names of the people involved. The Spanish say, “Se dice el pecado, no el pecador.” “You name the sin, not the sinner.”

Some of Our Animals Over the Years

The little boy with the big dogs is now a 48-year-old geology professor.

More Recent Photos, Fewer Animals

Remember the Cookery Portfolio?

I’ve decided to call it, Maureen’s Kitchen (in Spanish, La Cocina de Maureen). I’ve been working on the recipes and the plates for the prints. I think I’ve got them all ready, but I want to pull some proofs before I made the final decision. The proofs are so important. They can be printed in so many different ways and the decisions on those proofs can make or break a project. I’ll show you some here when I get something nice.

It Sounds Silly But…

Now that it no longer freezes at night my garden in boxes is growing by leaps and bounds. I’ve added a few more boxes and am looking for more space. Mike suggested under the roof overhang of the Gallinero, but I think it would get too much direct sun in the summertime. We have a strategy for the month of August. That’s our month for late nights (una delicia), early mornings, long siestas (more delight) and long drinks. The hard part is going to bed late and getting up early. But you soon get used to it. The long siesta helps.

The beauty of the box garden is that you can pick them up and put them in the shade when necessary. When I started out I was looking forward to just the fun of having little vegetable plants in boxes, like potted flowers. But it turns out that you can actually eat the crops. There are always some leaves you can snip off to brighten up a salad or a stew, and you can pretend that the tops of the red onions are chives. We’ve just started eating the peas raw. Sooo sweet. If you decide give a box garden a try I have a warning for you: You will get hooked. How do I know? At the place where I go to buy plants I coincide with other people who have box gardens and we swap stories enthusiastically. They’re hooked just like me.

An Homage to Spanish Medicine

I’ve just arrived home from my twice-a-year appointment with my reumatólogo–that’s an arthritis doctor. I’ve been visiting him for 12 or 15 years, so we’re old friends. He turned my life around from the first visit. Thanks to him I can live a virtually painless life doing what normal people do–except pole vaulting. Since we don’t pay doctors or hospitals in Spain, I like to show my appreciation with a little gift, so I take along an etching to my appointments. When we finished the consulta this morning and I was about to leave, he said, “You’re always giving me lovely gifts, Maureen. I’ve got something for you I think you and your husband might like,” and he goes to a cupboard and brings out a box that says, “Consejo Regulador de la Ribera del Duero,” Spain’s most prestigious wine region. Between one thing and another, I love going to the doctor.

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An interview by Bart Sedgebear

Manchester Girl Came Long Way

Maureen is from Manchester, U.K. In her last incarnation there she was a suburban housewife with two small children. That was in 1964 and she was feeling restless again. She had always been restless, at school, in church, in her job as a secretary earning coolie wages in the Manchester textile sector. This time it was bigger. She wanted out of suburbia, out of Little England. She had experienced only two weeks of sunshine in the previous year and yearned to feel the sun. She had painted her children’s bedroom walls with a bullfighter theme. Painting made her happy. She had attended a few night classes with a professor from the Stockport College of Art. “I needed to know how to stretch a canvas,” she says. After a half-dozen lessons the art professor said to her, “You don’t need to come any more. Just go home and draw everything.” She sold her first couple of portraits and thought the life of the artist would be easy.

One day, when her husband arrived home from work as a sales rep, she said to him, “Let’s move to Spain.” They had been on holiday a couple of times on the Costa Brava on Spain’s northern Mediterranean coast and enjoyed it.

In July 1964 she stepped off a plane at the Málaga airport, a thousand kilometers south of the Costa Brava. She was shepherding her two children and struggling with the carry-on luggage. Her husband was waiting there to drive them to their new home, a cobblestone, Roman-tiled fishing village 50 kilometers up the coast. As she stepped out the door of the plane she was buffeted by a wave of heat like nothing she had ever experienced before. She wondered if she had done the right thing.

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Time Flies

Flash forward a half century. She’s sitting midst easels and etching presses, stacks of canvases and exotic papers, worriedly anticipating the return of the wren that built his nest outside her studio window last week–and looking back over a life that took her by surprise.

Q: What happened?

A: We sold our house in England and pooled the money with another English couple to build a restaurant/bar and 12 apartments on a bluff over a Mediterranean beach in southern Spain. We ran the business working alternate weeks for a few years, the wives cooking and the husbands doing the shopping and tending the bar.

A couple of years in I rented the whole top floor of an old house overlooking a big vegetable patch and made it into a wonderful studio. The woman who owned the house was called Conchita Bueno and she was truly buena. I would paint there during the off weeks and any other time I could steal. Sometime during the fourth year, with the business taking off and me selling some paintings, I got restless again. We didn’t speak hardly any Spanish and we had never really integrated with the villagers. What’s more, the town was turning into a tourist trap for wayward Brits and Northern Europeans who formed English-speaking cliques and whose idea of adventure was to go to a “native” bar. It wasn’t an ideal place to raise children. I felt that I needed to get out of there. But how? I badly needed some serendipity.

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It came along in the form of an American lad who wore cut-off jeans in mid-winter and always carried a couple of cameras. He moved into the ugly new block of flats opposite our restaurant and began coming over for breakfast, and we had time for long chats. It turned out he was writing articles for American newspapers and was determined to stay in Europe. He liked fried bread, had never heard of it. One morning he and I made mayonnaise together in the kitchen, him pouring the oil slowly into the bowl and me whipping it into the eggs with a wire whisk. Shortly afterwards we coincided at a party of those boring expats and spent the whole night in a corner reading aloud to each other from a book of Yeats’ poems. We read Beggar to Beggar Cried. That did it.

Q: What happened then?

A. Two weeks later I was back on the plane with my kids, headed to my parents’ house in Manchester. I was there for six months working in my brother’s flower shop while my soon-to-be second husband searched for a “real” Spanish village well off the Mediterranean coast, found one, rented a house there, and helped the owner install a bathroom. We’ve lived in that village ever since. It hasn’t changed much as it’s in a steepish valley that doesn’t have much room for “development.” Here we raised my two kids and one of our own.

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Becoming a Printmaker

Eventually we bought an old house and fixed it up. As we had no money left nor collateral, the village mayor co-signed a loan for us to do the renovation. That is how our pueblo has treated us. Some years later we built the studio and converted the goat shed into an office for Mike and have happily lived and worked here ever since. Much later we built a cabin to accommodate the print artists who came from all over the world to attend my printmaking workshops. Workshops are what you do when a disastrous world economic crisis slows your flow of art sales to a drip. Even in this I was lucky. My husband was a freelance journalist and photographer who had worked in PR in the US, so it didn’t take him long to adapt to being an artist’s online publicist. Try googleing “printmaking courses in Spain”  and see the first results.

This was the etching studio of the Rodríguez-Acosta Foundation in 1979-80

Q: How did you become a printmaker?

A: More serendipity. Louise Waugh, a wonderful English watercolorist friend, stopped by the studio one day with some beautiful etching proofs. I was astounded. How did she do that? She said she had been accepted to study in the etching studio of the Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta in Granada. “You just take a portfolio of your work and leave it with them, and then go back after a week to see if you’ve been accepted.” I did. I was. A whole new world opened up for me. I worked there for two-and-a-half years, under the direction of the magical printmaking maestro, José García Lomas, “Pepe Lomas,” who had been exquisitely formed in Barcelona and Paris. Pepe liked his students to be earnest and I was certainly that, so he spared no effort to see to it that I mastered his traditional techniques. It’s a good thing I did. Everything starts there.

The Creative Life

Q: Let’s talk about the creative life. How do you see it looking back?

A: And forward. That’s something I need to clear up. A writer friend of ours recently turned 40 and expressed concern about being “past her prime.” What nonsense. You’re never past your prime until you stop struggling. I made my first print when I was 37. Consider Georgia O’Keeffe, nearing 98, virtually blind, and still painting.

As for “the creative life,” Mike and I have discussed it a lot. We agree that authentic creativity goes beyond putting paint on canvas or ink on plates. For us an artist’s first mission is to take responsibility for crafting a creative life. That can mean different things for different artists but the essential part is about making a vital and artistic ecosystem for yourself, tailor made for your own needs, tastes, challenges and aspirations. And don’t fail to leave some space for serendipity.

Don’t worry what other people think of your lifeplan. It’s for you, not for them. Do you want to raise chihuahuas or learn Mandarin. You can do that, and more. When I was headed back to Spain in 1969 to start a new life my two brothers, both successful businessmen, expressed their grave concern for me. They thought I was crazy. Forty-some years later they came down individually for visits, and both confided to me, “I wish I had done what you did.”

Q: Do you have any advice for young artists who are starting out, say, where you were in the mid-sixties?

A: I can make some general suggestions, but every artist is a world apart. First and foremost is the importance of actually working, filling sketchbooks, painting, making prints. If you don’t do that conscientiously it’s all pointless. Inevitably, what you are seeking, to live from your art, entails some risk, but it need not be an impediment. There’s a simple formula for taking the stress out of it: Figure out what your wildest dream is and give it a try. The worst that can happen is that you have to go home and get a job.

You’ll have to sell some work, of course. You’ll need to exhibit and participate in art fairs and other cultural events. Whether or not you ever sell much work over Internet, a compelling presence on the Web will be an important element in your success. Your story is just as important as your work and you’ll need to develop it and find interesting ways to divulge it. Right now the media for that are websites and blogs, videos and podcasts and, of course, social media. Later there will be something else but the essential element will still be your story: your humanity, your humor, your best teacher, your hopes, your unexpected successes, the morning light on your nasturtiums, your cat, and your trip to Tasmania or the Grand Canyon. Don’t worry about including any sales pitches. The captivating life and times of a full-time professional artist is sales pitch enough, and your potential clients will appreciate your low-key presentation.

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More Preparation

It would be good to study something, too, regardless of whether you get a degree. You will learn how to learn and this will serve you well when it comes time to build a a website or a sailboat. Don’t laugh. A dear artist friend of ours in Colorado makes lovingly- crafted three-quarter size Indian canoes and people hang them from their ceilings.

Travel all you can. Read all you can. Without it you cannot become a complete artist–or person. Read quality fiction and non-fiction. Everything fits into the artist’s blender.

Q: Do you have more suggestions, something to help artists survive a crisis?

A: I discussed that more extensively in an article I wrote some years ago. Here’s a link to it.

Q: What about working space and conditions? How important are they?

A: Ample workspace is essential for a visual artist, especially considering that you might need to mount courses in there. That studio is your sacred space and you must devote some thought and resources to it. You also need privacy and tranquility. At first you may need a day job, but don’t let it prevent you from spending quality time in your studio. Program that into your life. Set some objectives, make some plans. Write them down. They will help you navigate the hard times to come.

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Think about what kind of work you’re going to do, how commercial you can go without compromising your creativity and your self respect. Who are you going to sell to and how? Resist the temptation to spend time and effort cultivating rich clients. Normal people–teachers, nurses, programmers, office workers, small business people and the like, are better, more loyal and constant. They will think of you when they need wedding presents or portraits. Then, if a rich client comes along, that’s OK, too.

Don’t despise anyone. My best client for paintings (this was before etchings) when I started out in Granada was a young pharmacy employee. He would phone me occassionally and say, “I’ve got some money saved, Maureen. Can I come out and have a look-around?” We’re still friends.

Q: What about the coronavirus pandemic? How do you think that is going to influence the lives of artists?

A: I think that’s impossible to predict at the moment. The first thing that occurs to me is that involuntary lockdown has given artists valuable time to think and observe, time they have never taken before. I hope they take good advantage of it. As for national and world events, they could go from revolutionary social and political changes to just more of the usual muddling through. Only one thing is clear to me: our creativity–in the broadest sense of the word–will be stretched to its limits Artists may have to plant potatoes. In any case, look on the bright side. Creativity is what artists are good at.

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Maureen Booth printroom

(He aquí una selección de mi trabajo y talleres)

“Where can I see a selection of your work?” Right here! I’ve gone into the files and pulled out a representative sample of my work over the years. I’ve done it by categories: acid etchings, solarplate prints, linocuts, oil paintings, etc. Some of the paintings are for sale and most of the editions still have prints available, so if you see anything you think you might like to purchase, just drop me an email (maureenluciabooth(at)gmail.com) and we can discuss it. (Click on the images to enlarge them and open up a slide show.) Here we go:.

Recent Work / Obra Reciente

Bronze Sculptures

 

Movie Making and Lorna

Solarplate Prints / Estampas Solares

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Liquid Metal Prints / Estampas de Metal Líquido

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Acid Etchings / Grabados al Ácido

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Screen Prints / Serigrafías

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Linocuts / Linograbados

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Oil Paintings / Óleos

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Watercolors / Acuarelas

 

 

Alhambra Prints / Estampas con tema Alhambra

Alhambra ghost print

These are the first prints from my series on Granada’s Alhambra palace and fortress. Though it’s located barely five miles down the hill from our house, I’ve avoided the Alhambra as a subject for years because of the danger of doing something trite. It’s been done to deathby artists from around the world over the past 200 years. But I’m encouraged by my experiments with liquid-metal techniques, which have obliged me to work fast and loose, and I’m quite pleased with the results.

One surprise in this experience is that some of the ghost prints turned out more interesting than the first prints pulled off the plates, as you can see in these pictures. Also, learning to print plates with relief on them has been a challenge.

So, please take a look at these new prints and let me know what you think. Or, if you like, come to my studio in Granada and we’ll work on something together!

The first print pulled off the first plate

The second Alhambra print

The ghost print off the second plate


 

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Puedes conocer este laboratorio de la magia del arte desde hoy hasta el día 6 de enero, visperas de Reyes

Allí te espera una experiencia artística única–convivir con una artista profesional durante unos minutos en el estudio donde ha dedicado muchos años a crear su arte original en varios formatos: obra gráfica, pintura y escultura. No lo pierdas.

Se puede concertar una cita o bien por teléfono o por email:

Teléfono: 605 341 632
Email: maureenluciabooth@gmail.com

He aquí más fotos de la historia del estudio de Maureen, la gente que ha trabajado con ella, sus obras y sus alegrías:

 

Gracias por seguir, comentar y compartir.

 

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Volver a la versión española

You’re Invited to Drop by and Visit the Studio where Maureen Has Created these Sculptures, Paintings and Graphic Work.

And if you find a piece that strikes your fancy, you can even aquire it, either for your own home or as a Christmas gift for someone you love. Maureen will be at home every day starting Friday, December 15 until Monday, January 6th. You can phone her to make an appointment (34 605341632).
Here are a few samples of work that is still available, and there is a lot more in her studio.

 

P.S. Can’t make it? If you see something you need, drop Maureen an email: maureenluciabooth@gmail.com.

Thanks for commenting, following and sharing.

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