Posts Tagged ‘Maureen Booth Printmaestra’

by Maureen Booth

It’s an Opportunity to Share Some Village Wine, Chat and See Some of My Work in the Place Where It Was Created

Any boy or girl who turns out to be an artist in life will never forget the first time he or she set foot in the studio of a professional. It’s something that stays with us for the rest of our lives. There is only one experience in an artistic life that inspires more awe: your own studio. Not a corner of the bedroom, nor a garage, nor a porch, but a proper studio with proper light and a door that locks. I was lucky on this count. It was 1966 and I had been living for a short time in Nerja, a village in the province of Málaga, Spain. That little town, in those days, was a dream for a girl from Manchester, UK. It was an authentic Mediterranean fishing village with cobbled streets, roman tiles and a friendly cop with a cap and truncheon. And sunshine beyond my wildest dreams.

There were also foreigners, but not many, and a good proporption of them were painters and writers and one etcher. That arty element gave a special character to the pueblo. It was like an artists’ colony that had sprouted naturally, like mushrooms in the woods, a place where nobody pronounced the phrase, “artists’ colony.” Those artists opened my eyes to a culture and a life that I would never have discovered without their influence.

In the exact center of the village was a big house with an enormous garden dotted with fruit trees. That plot of land was the envy of the village that was already foreseeing a brilliant future in tourism. It was the perfect place to site a luxurious block of flats. But the owner, Conchita Bueno, daughter of a distinguished local family, refused even to consider selling her orchard.

We first met one day when I was painting in the plaza. She paused in her mornintg “paseo” and expressed interest in what I was painting, adding, “So, you like painting on the street, do you?”

“Yes,” I replied, “Besides it’s my only choice. I don’t have a studio.”

“You don’t have a studio,” said Conchita, as if she were alarmed. “Come with me, daughter.” Conchita was like that.

She took me to that big house with fruit trees and led me up to the top floor. It was a spacious attic, one diaphanous wooden-floored space with a view over the orchard.

“Now you’ve got a studio,” said Conchita.

I protested, “You’re very kind, but I’m not sure I can afford such a splendid studio.”

Conchita replied, furrowing her brow as if impatient with me, “You’re not going to pay anything, daughter.”

That’s what Conchita, who didn’t have children, was like.

I Adapt My Studio to Printmaking

I worked for almost three years in that magnificent studio with a little kitchen and its own entrance from the street. I soon began to sell almost everything I painted–lots of local color–and to dream of living from my artwork. That sounded then like a fairy tale. Not quite. I just needed a dose of perseverence and little bit of madness. My next studio was a little stone goat shed on a rocky hillside above Pinos Genil, a village outside Granada. That was followed by a revamped chicken house, and finally a big well-lit studio that my husband Mike built for me. There I only painted until I was selected to study printmaking in the Rodríguez-Acosta Foundation in Granada (1977-80) under the tutelage of José García (Pepe) Lomas, a true master printmaker who left the south of Spain peppered with his disciples. A couple of years later the Foundation closed and I had the opportunity to buy one of their etching presses and all the tables and accessories necessary to convert my space into a fully-fledged printmaking studio. There, over the past 30-some years, I’ve received artists from around the world, to learn printmaking techniques with me.

My Invitation

It’s there that I propose to invite you one weekend during these Christmas holidays (which last 14 days in Spain). There we can sip a glass of village wine together, chat and have a look at some of my work, both paintings and prints. You’ll have the opportunity to discover some new work and some half-forgotten stuff lying in boxes and drawers for decades.

How would you feel about the weekend of December 17, 18 and 19? The address is: Ctra. Güéja Sierra 10, 18191 PINOS GENIL. You can best park in front of the big warehouse with the red and green facade just before arriving at our house. Then it’s a date? I would love that. Hours: mornings 11:00-14:00, afternoons 17:00-20:00. Phone: (34) 605 341 632.

P.S. It’s not easy to get lost, but if you do just ask for “la casa de la pintora.” Once someone got lost and stopped to ask their way. The reply was: “Oh, you’ve got the wrong village. The one you’re looking for is six kilometers down the hill and to the left.”

Photos by Mike Booth

(Follow this link to see a big display of photos. The text is in Spanish but the pictures are in English.)

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Now Comes the Hard Part; What Will You Think?

Here you have it, a project that has been rambling round my head for years and finally got started three months ago when my assistant, María José, suggested, “We’re not doing much else, why don’t we start on your recipes-with-prints idea? Suddenly, getting up in the morning in the boring and confusing life under Covid controls began to have meaning. It’s true, happiness is a project.

The recipes are my own  personal favorites. Some of them I inherited from my mother and grandmother, some from friends and some of the best local dishes from our pueblo, Pinos Genil.  I have included some vegetarian dishes and some are my own  creative  experiments. I hope you will find them interesting.  This has been an inspiring learning experience for me and I’m happy to see the result.

Preparing an edition is, beyond the image making, a lot of work. The Spanish would say it’s a combination of “arte y artesanía.” Once you’ve refined your sketches and burned them onto plates, you’ve got all that printing to do by hand. Though this edition is a small one, with only 19 portfolios, each one has 16 prints. Add to that the hand coloring of all of them. Then there was the text. As it is impractical to handwrite the recipes in English and Spanish on plates, the answer was a print shop and all the complication that entails. For both of these problems I had extraordinary luck close at hand. They are named María José, my near-daughter whom you have already met, and our neighbor, Ricardo, who owns one of Granada’s most exquisite print shops, la Imprenta del Arco. I’m forever thankful for his patience with all my changes and his excellent criteria concerning my doubts. And I don’t want to forget María José’s lovely daughter, Silvia Romera Braojos, who did the translation into Spanish and the formatting of the text.

Young Old Friends

So each DIN-A4-sized recipe has Ricardo’s offset text on one side and my hand-pulled original print on the other. One of the advantages of living in the same place for 50 years is that you know whom you can rely on. And our pueblo, Pinos Genil, is a great place to live. I have an added advantage here. In the late 1970s I used to give painting lessons in the town square to all the children who were interested, and today I am privileged to have all of those children as 40-and-50-year-old friends.

I haven’t had much feedback yet, except for our old friend, the doctor/painter, Rafael Sánchez, who dropped by last night for one of his amusing visits. He saw the portfolio, said, “This is art on the outside and art on the inside,” and took one home with him. That was encouraging, Rafa, thank you.

As for how to enjoy/display/use these prints is up to the owner. You would have to have a pretty big kitchen to frame and hang 16 prints. You could leave the portfolio on a coffee table (along with a pair of white cotton gloves). Or enjoy figuring out your own creative solution. If you think you might like to have one of the 15 remaining portfolios (discounting one each for María José, Ricardo and me) you can email me at maureenluciabooth(at)gmail.com.


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These TASIS Students Have Redefined the “Work” in Workshop

Martyn Dukes and Frank Long returned again this year with their art and photography students for their third printmaking workshop with Maureen. After missing the first of four days due to a cancelled flight from Milan and a long trip via Zurich the following day they should have been tired. But no, determined to make up for lost time they marched right into the studio for Maureen’s orientation talk, so they were primed to go the next morning. Another factor that got them off to a running start was the stack of drawings and photos on acetate that they had prepared previously.

So while they worked on new acetates in the studio under Maureen’s supervision, her assistants, Carmen and María José (bottom right in the photo), started exposing and inking solar plates and running them through the two etching presses. The system worked well and permitted the students to achieve a surprising production of prints in just three days working mornings and afternoons. They barely stopped long enough to eat lunch, though on the last day they managed to fit in a stroll around the high spots of Granada.

Congratulations to all of  you. You couldn’t have done it any better. P.S. You will be happy to know that both María José and Carmen remarked how polite and cordial all of the students were–and how saintly patient Martyn and Frank were.

Here’s the pictures:


Would you like to see some of Maureen’s artwork? Here’s a link.
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Days Full of Printmaking, Seafood, White Wine and Laughs

When Mary was leaving after her first course with Maureen she said, “I want to come back here with my husband, Robert. So I’ll be seeing you again.” That was eight years ago, but Mary kept her word. In the meantime she has set up her own printmaking workshop at home in a small town outside Milan, Italy and she wanted to do a refresher course with her maestra before beginning serious work.

“I’m so glad I came back,” said Mary. “I learned so much making prints with Maureen this time. It was so fun working with gold leaf. I’ve got some at home but I never knew how to use it. This visit served to convinced me that I need to come back a third time and stay longer! And Robert doesn’t object. He had so much fun. He wants to come back to visit the great little seafood bar Mike and Maureen took us to and to eat another of Mike’s paellas on their terrace.”

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