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Alaskan Artist, Rhonda Horton, Braves 30-Hour Flight to Come to Maureen’s Workshop

Rhonda and her husband, Rich, had been planning this trip, their first to Europe, for more than a year. For Rhonda it was more than a vacation. It was an opportunity to work  intensively–one on one–for two weeks with an Old World master printmaker and to collect some ideas for establishing her own printmaking studio at home. At the end of her time in Granada she hoped to have produced an exquisite artist’s book. And she did.

Rhonda had scrupulously prepared a full set of pencil drawings on paper as the basis to create an artist’s book on Alaskan sea birds. After admiring them Maureen said, “These are drawings are great but to achieve maximum image quality on solarplates they should be re-drawn in India ink on acetates.” She showed Rhonda how it was done and Rhonda spent her few first morning and afternoons preparing beautiful new drawings.

Then they decided on a format, adaptated to some elongated sheets of handmade Indian paper that Maureen had selected for Rhonda’s artist’s book, and burned the images on the plates. Maureen happened to have on hand some beautifully textured handmade paper acquired from the Paperki paper mill in Hondarribia, Spain, 30 years ago for the cover of the book. Rhonda loved some work that Maureen had done with chine collé and decided to incorporate that technique into her book project, as well.

Then it was just a question of printing up the images and assembling them meticulously into three artist’s books. Rhonda called it “Quiet Song” after a poem that occurred to her on awaking one morning in Maureen’s Gallinero artist’s cabin:

Quiet song, show me the morning
A shout before noon, show me the day
Birds of the shore, show me the night.

A special element in creating ambiente throughout the whole process was Rhonda’s husband, Rich, occasionally sitting quietly at the end of the studio playing his guitar and singing. The delicious atmosphere he achieved was like having a Rennaisance troubador providing live-music accompaniment in an artist’s studio.

Maureen attributes the success of their work together to the fact that Rhonda arrived with a clear project in mind with the images already worked out. The finished product is an exquisite piece of work that reflects the input of both Rhonda and Maureen. The effort expended by both over two weeks is evident in the proud, hard-working faces of both in the second and third photographs in the montage below.

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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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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.

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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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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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