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It Can Be Fun, Actually

Due to the countrywide quarantine order we’ve been confined to our home for more than two weeks now but we haven’t managed to get bored yet. Admittedly we’re lucky. We have a garden and some sunny terraces. So I dabble in paint. In normal times I don’t have much time for painting, my first love, since I’ve got so much printmaking stuff to do. Mike works on his blog and in the garden, makes pictures and walks the dogs. That’s the loophole in the lockdown order, you’re permitted to walk your dog. Very civilized, I thought. And just opposite our house, on the other side of the river, we’ve got an old tram line that’s perfect for the purpose.

I want to share with you some of the photographs he has made over the past couple of weeks. Actually, being locked down has its positive side. There are lots of annoying duties that you can’t possibly do, so you get to leave them. That gives you time for stuff you never have time for, sitting on the terrace round sunset watching the ducks and herons flying up the river till it’s too dark to see them; watching films and series and, especially, YouTube documentaries. (Here’s a link to one we loved.) And relaxing deeply, as if you were on holiday or at someone else’s house.

So, here’s some pictures. Be well and come and see us when you can.

 

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Jan Reawakens Her Printmaking Enthusiasm in Granada

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Jan Stickland is coming back. After two serious operations in the past year, she decided to try her newly recovered wings with a solo trip to Spain from her home in Australia and an intensive printmaking workshop with Maureen here in Granada. She achieved both with high marks. When she left she was full of ideas, plans and a determination to buy an etching press and set up her own studio at home. “Maureen made me see that it was not only possible but necessary,” says Jan. “The truth is I always feel best when I’m making art.”

Jan is a country girl, raised in a village in the state of Victoria where her mother would pack her a lunch in the morning and she could spend the entire day walking alone in the woods. “I got to know every inch of that forest,” she says nostalgically. Having spent her professional life as a primary school teacher, with what she refers to as a “disjointed relationship with art,” Jan is now retired with her children grown up and independent. “It’s time to get back to art,” she says, adding, “I confess, though, that my principal motive for coming to work with Maureen was not mainly about printmaking. It was to relax and clear my head. But Maureen quickly took me far beyond that. This became a working holiday. We worked hard together and I learned more in a short time than ever before in my life, and not just about printmaking techniques and creative printing, but also studio practice and organization. In her studio Maureen seems always to have the materials she needs–down to an important scrap of grandmother’s lace or a pressed flower–close at hand. She buys most of her materials on Internet and they are delivered to her door.

This was Jan’s second visit to Spain. She was here last year after being chosen to represent Australia in the IMPACT 10 Encuentro, the tenth edition of the International Multidisciplinary Printmaking Conference created by the University of the West of England which was held in the city of Santander, Spain, from September 1 to 9, 2018. Jan had another compelling reason to visit Spain. Her son married a Spanish girl and they live in a hillside village in the province of Alicante just a 15-minute drive from the Mediterranean coast.

In answer to the question, “Why printmaking?” Jan replies, “It’s the serendipity, the magic that happens every time you pull that blanket back off a freshly pressed print.”

While Jan was here she also found time in the afternoons to stroll through the village and try its restaurants. One of those afternoons she coincided with the annual “Fiesta del Agua” and joined in the fun with the village young people. On her last afternoon, she accompanied Maureen on a delightful walk through a pine forest (“ahh, the smell…”) located 1,000 vertical meters above the village, where it’s 6-8ºC cooler on summer afternoons. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Jan coming back one of these years. It’s not just the printmaking. There is also her family down there in Alicante, just a short bus ride away.

Photos by Mike Booth
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Back for Seventh Successive Year

This group of high-school juniors, from Germany, Russia, the USA and Spain all attend Bremen’s  International Baccalaureate school and study art under Brenda Eubank. This is the seventh (eighth?) successive year that Brenda brings her students to Maureen’s studio to do a printmaking workshop. (Note: Brenda notifies us by email that the first workshop Maureen had with the students from Bremen was in 2011, so this year’s visit was the ninth. Time flies.)

This year, under Maureen’s guidance, they made three collective artists’ books. It sounds complicated and it was but the results gratified everybody.

Have a look at the photographs, below.

(Thanks, Brenda, hope to see you next year.)

 

Photos by Mike Booth and Brenda Eubank
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I just found this in my visitors’ book and was moved by it:

Dear Maureen and Mike,

Thank you so much for the most memorable printmaking experience I have ever had. At the same time I realized that you were a mother to me in so many ways, especially in printmaking. I will always cherish my time with you in the studio working out my complicated project.

You are very creative and have many ideas and I appreciate your mentorship in the business of art. You have taught me what it means to be a working artist.

Mike was a friend to my husband, Rich, and I know he enjoyed the walks and working together on the technical issues such as the wife. Mike is awesome! The paella was excellent and I loved meeting all your friends and family. And, to top it off, the spa treatment every other day did us wonders. You have been a true blessing all around. We will be sending some salmon from Alaska (wild caught) for sure.

Love you and Mike,

Rhonda  & Rich
XX OO XX OO

Thank you, Rhonda. The feeling is mutual. We hope to see you back here whenever you can make it.

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Virtually Lost to Art Since Her Art School Days, Sarah Initiates a Welcome Return

Sarah Jarvis studied painting and textiles (Chelsea School of Art) and then lived in the business world all her working life. Though, it’s not as if locating, gutting and renovating, equipping and running an Andalusian farmhouse hotel with her husband, Matt, since 2014 isn’t work. Still, the yearning for art in her life never left her. Her dream was to convert one of the rooms in their country house into a printmaking studio. But there were so many questions pending. It had been a long time. Was she capable of making her plan work?

At this point she discovered Maureen on the web. “I just googled ‘Printmaking Spain’ and there she was,” says Sarah, who showed up at the studio a few days later. After looking over some of Sarah’s sketches, Maureen suggested that Sarah base her first prints on some animal drawings she had done a few years ago and showed her how to prepare the images on acetates in order to create solar-plate prints.

The first print was a sign of things to come. It was crisp, bold and arresting, with a graphic quality that a lot of printmakers strive a long time to achieve. By the time she went home Sarah had a stack of prints. When Maureen said to her, “You’ve got the beginning of an exhibit there,” Sarah’s eyes lit up. She was on her way.

Asked to discuss her experience in the studio with Maureen, Sarah said, “It was amazing, actually. Maureen has allowed me to feel that I could become an artist. She’s given me the necessary confidence. She doesn’t train people to be like her. She looks for the best in each person. Also, the setting here is so inspiring, from the mountains, the grapevines and the flowers, to the Gallinero (henhouse) artists cabin. It’s all so idyllic.”

Sarah’s parting comment says it all: “I’m going to create a studio of my own. Now I’m convinced I can do it.”

 

 

 

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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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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.

 

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