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Lola Higgins arrived at Maureen’s studio a couple of weeks ago, a timid, uncertain recent graduate from the Edinburgh College of Art, the art department of the University of Edinburgh. She had made a few solar prints there but didn’t like neither the process nor the results very much.

Lola´s plan was to reproduce some of her photographs as high quality solarplate prints. When Maureen suggested going beyond mere reproduction, to start from scratch with freehand drawing in India ink on a laser acetate, Lola’s reaction was: “Draw? I can’t draw!”

With a little bit of encouragement Lola started drawing and never stopped. She went from strength to strength and, with Maureen’s help, turned her drawings into stunning solarplate prints. She finished up after 10 days with a portfolio with which the maestra affirms she should start visiting galleries in London, her home town. (See photos of the prints on the drying racks below.)

After Lola left, Maureen said to an artist friend, “I d0n’t think I’ve ever seen a young artist make so much progress in so little time.”

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The printmaking continues and the results are gratifying

The TASIS artists and photographers surprised themselves with the quality of the work they produced in Maureen’s studio. Have a look:

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Hasta luego, TASIS. You’re brilliant.

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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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Jennifer Morgan Family, Nova Scotia, Canada

I received an email from Jennifer Morgan in Nova Scotia asking me if I could mount a one-day solarplate printing workshop in my studio for herself and six family members, as a creative stop on their trip to Spain. I thought, “That’s impossible.” But I, who believe in the impossible, said “Fine. Come on over. We’ll give it a try.”

On the day, I had the great good luck that all Jennifer’s family had surprising artistic talent, which they may have inherited from their mother, the Canadian novelist, Bernice Morgan. (See photos) The quantity and quality of work they produced in a single day, their first, was impressive. I tremble to think what they could have achieved in a week.

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Fran Ramírez, Madrid, Spain

Fran Ramírez is a talented and dedicated artist. We have been doing collaborative work together in my studio for more than 10 years. As you can see from the images below, Fran has his own particular view of life in Spain plus a unique vision in his paintings and prints.  He has recently finished the restoration work on a new studio in Madrid for himself and his photographer wife, Marta. It also includes a discreet exhibit space. We’re anxious to see the work they hang up there.

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Dave McConnell, Boston, USA

Dave McConnell was a special person and it was a privilege to have him in my studio for a  week’s collaborative work in photogravure solar plate. To begin with, a few days after he returned home to Boston he turned 90. He was accompanied on this trip to Spain by his son, a banker with the Boston Fed. Dave, who had spent his working life as a photographer at the Boston Globe, was the quintessence of the charming Irishman with a young heart, excellent humor and that glint in his eye. His project was to make a four-color solarplate photogravure print from a color photograph he had made many years before. This was new territory for me; we both learned a lot from the experience. And we had a grand time in the process. Here’s some pictures Mike made.

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