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Posts Tagged ‘printmaking courses Spain’

Getting Set Up

You’ll need some conditions for working, and it’s better to get them right from the beginning: a dedicated workplace, an etching press, heat, light and water, work surfaces and materials. You might be able to start out in a collective studio but, sooner or later, you’ll need a place of your own, even if it’s a garage or a garden shed. Creativity demands concentration, and you need to organize the studio to your own needs and standards of order and cleanliness. If you don’t have much money to invest, invest something else. Invest generosity. A gift of a beautiful print can start a chain reaction. Be generous with your time. Help other artists all you can. Don’t be stingy with your knowledge.

In our early years in Pinos Genil I used to give free painting lessons to kids in the village square and the garden of the old hydro-electric plant. The provincial cultural authority put up the materials, and I even got some mothers painting. That was in the late seventies and early eighties. My pupils were mostly eight-or-ten-year-old village kids. Today I’m old friends with most of the 50 and 60 year olds in town. An old friend in a small town is a rare luxury. A few years ago I was invited to pronounce the “pregón,” the ritual opening speech of the annual fiesta mayor, Pinos Genil’s most important fiesta of the year.

One way which enables you to survive is to swap your work, no money involved. My list is so long: I have exchanged my work for wonderful clothes, dentistry, years of attention from Granada’s most-prestigious gynecologist, a year’s dogfood for a family of Great Danes, a patchwork quilt, artisan pottery, handmade jewelry, original lamps, garden furniture, a magnolia tree, some beautiful handmade paper from the Paperki paper mill in the Spanish Basque country. When my friend, Luisa, closed her decorating business I exchanged two big paintings for a big sofa; some rugs from Taroudant, Morocco at the edge of the Sahara; some lovely lamps, beautiful hand-made curtains and tapestries. Start proposing swaps now. You will be pleasantly surprised. Boths gifts and barter will get your art out and about. You’ll be surprised to find how many people will be enchanted by the idea of doing business without money.

About Selling

My favorite place to sell my work is in my studio. It has a special allure. I’m not sure if it’s the exoticism of the etching press, the busy look or the smell of paints and solvents. It puts them in the mood. I like to sit them down on a chair facing a document chest full of prints in layers of drawers, and say to them, “See if there’s anything you like.” The drawers hold years of prints and proofs, large and small. If they purchase a few prints I make them a gift of another one. I can do that because I’m not paying any commissions. They’ll be back, often bringing along some friends. Studio sales are ideal, and you don’t have to frame anything or get in the car and drive anywhere.

My least-favorite way of selling prints is exhibiting. I’ve had some disappointing experiences. All veteran artists have. Sometimes, when we get together, we share stories. Many years ago, before my print lifetime, through some wonderful French friends, I got an invitation to exhibit in the municipal museum of Agen, in the south of France. I had all the arrangements fixed and we were invited to stay there with our friends, Olga and Touné. I had all the paintings nicely framed and securely packed and had made shipping arrangements with the biggest, most expensive transport agency in Spain, given the possibility of problems at the Spanish-French border. The shipment arrived at French customs a week before the scheduled opening and was turned back for the lack of a single document. I had bought my bus ticket for the following day. Exhibit cancelled.

You Can’t Live Without It

Obviously, there’s no way for an artist to avoid exhibiting, especially when he or she is starting out. But please be careful. I have come to the conclusion that the only thing you can do to avoid problems when you exhibit is to do your homework beforehand. Take the process seriously. Check out everything, Get references. Get it in writing. Even then you may sometimes bump into an unpleasant surprise. But you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done everything humanly possible.

At the end of the nineties my sales drooped a bit, but that coincided happily with a query from one of my friends, an art teacher in an International Bacalaureate (IB) school in Germany. She wanted to know if I could put together a one-week printmaking course for a dozen or so students from her art classes during Easter Week. That’s what got me into printmaking workshops, and at a propitious time. Happily, the studio that Mike built for me back in the eighties at the bottom of our garden was quite large, 50 square meters, so it admitted small groups. Though one time I had a group of 20 from The American School in Switzerland (TASIS) and managed it by habilitating space in my Gallinero artists’ cabin and calling in my two part-time assistants, María José and Carmen. Martyn, the head of the TASIS art department, and Frank, the photography teacher were also valuable help. The result was an inspiring setting for creative high-school art students who had never done any printmaking. My experiences with groups of European students, which all repeated over a series of years, have been extremely positive, due both to the personal qualities of the students, as well as their exceptional teachers.

Workshops to Afront the Crises

My work with students opened the door to workshops with artists. That turned out to be a life saver in the lean times ahead. I started with mostly Spanish non-printmaker artists. It was rewarding to see them getting into ink. Then, thanks to the websites Mike made for me and kept up, I started getting artists from abroad, first in small groups, then individually. It turns out that the most productive mode of launching or perfecting one’s printmaking is in one-on-one sessions with a master printmaker/teacher. That’s how I learned at the Rodríguez-Acosta Foundation in Granada. The workshop had a lot of members but I was the only one who attended every day. José García Lomas, “Pepe,” the wonderful printmaking maestro there, appreciated that loyalty and took me on as his protege. Everything I know about teaching printmaking, I owe to Pepe Lomas. His method can be summed up briefly. “Respect the taste and talent of the students. Let them follow their own stars.” I can’t remember how many nationalities have passed through my studio over the past four decades.

“Creativity” Covers More Ground Than You Think

Creativity is not just putting paint on canvas or scratching a copper plate. Creativity begets creativity and, once you get in the habit in your studio, it extends to other facets of your life. It becomes a lifestyle, and people who come here notice it. Virtually all the artists who stay in my Gallinero artists’ cabin comment that they sleep better. Serious printmaking is relaxing, but also tiring. The biggest commission I ever had was from a big Paris construction company. They wanted gifts for more than a hundred of their clients and employees. I made several different prints for them in order to keep the edition numbers down, assuring true limited editions. And I ordered some beautiful hand-made-paper, and envelopes in bright pastel colors, from my friends at Paperki. Beyond my most optimistic expectations, those atypical gifts were a big success and the company repeated the commission for two more years.

When Covid 19 shut down the world I went into shock for a while, but eventually decided I had to work my way out of it. So I produced a portfolio of my favorite recipes illustrated with prints. That was an extremely limited edition (limited to the amount of paper I had on hand) and it sold out in a couple of months. Then it occurred to me to convert it into a little book which, with the help of my wonderful printshop neighbor, Ricardo, was a big success. I’m currently working on etched VIP invitations to the inauguration of our village’s new Sierra Nevada Tram Museum. María del Mar, the new director there was one of the 10-year-old students in my village painting classes all those years ago.

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This was an unexpected record turnout here for a book presentation on a weeknight.

It’s the Annual Cultural Week in our Village, the Ideal Time for the Presentation of My New Cookery Book

The release of my little bi-lingual, illustrated cookery book coincided with our pueblo’s annual cultural week, the ideal time to present a new book. If it floats here, who knows, it might float in the rest of the world. Presenting in your own village is a privilege and a challenge. Though you enjoy some pre-existing good will from your friends and neighbors, you don’t want to dilapidate those good vibrations by boring them with pretentiousness or long windedness. You want your story told with agility, grace and brevity.

Ideally you want to win over the folks in the plaza to art and good cooking, and if you can sell a few books, that’s OK, too. For that I asked María José, my assistant in the studio, and her daughter, Silvia to attend a table loaded with books for sale. The number they sold was a delightful surprise. Nobody expected an illustrated cookery book to be a best seller. Attendance looked sparce five minutes before the 9:00 pm starting time, but in those brief five minutes the plaza filled up.

The person I chose to present the book was Ángeles Mora, my dear longtime friend, a wonderful poet and person, who has won two national poetry prizes over the past decade. Ángeles is equally at home in an auditorium full of professors as in a village square, and was ideal for the job, warm and light footed, cultured and homespun. She even read one of her poems that verses on life, love and good eating. I want to translate the last stanza for you: “Apaga la ventana, amor, cierra la luz. Abre la boca.” (“Close the window, my love, put out the light. Open your mouth.”) Gabriel Gómez, our mayor, introduced her and carefully elaborated on her impressive curriculum. When Ángeles finished everybody was refreshed in the head and the heart, and ready for a cold beer. The Pinos Genil village center is the perfect place for that on a summer night.

We, along with a group of 20-some friends, were expecting one of the three bars with terraces on the plaza or the river’s edge to prepare one long table for all of us. But Covid precautions limited each table to just five persons, so we were spread out over five tables. No matter each one created its own fun and everybody stayed late and had a great time. Ours was the exclusively-women’s table where we told hilarious husband stories. Mike’s was the word table with a professor, a librarian, and a journalist. Eduardo, the journalist, came up with the best word of the night: “zorrocotroco.” A zorrocotroco is a hard-headed, inflexible person. He sounds like it, doesn’t he. There are no photos of the post-party. My photographer, with an excellent sense of priorities, dedicated himself to the friends, the beer and the funny words.

I doubt that I’ll have another book to present next summer, but who knows? It’s a lot of fun.

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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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And They’re Not Over Yet

The past six months have reminded me of my two favorite Spanish sayings:

  • “No hay mal que por bien no venga.” Nothing bad ever happens that doesn’t bring something good along with it.
  • “Todos los días son días de aprender.” Every day is a day to learn something.

It was the end of February and I had just had a group in my studio of 18 art students from The American School in Switzerland (TASIS). I worked with two assistants, María José and Carmen (bottom right in the photo), which permitted us, in addition to teaching, to produce a volume of work, enough to mount a show when the students got back home. It was a print production experience and it worked wonderfully well. Everybody was delighted with their prints and I was ready for a rest.

This TASIS class was the largest group I ever had in my studio. In fact, some of them worked in the Gallinero on the long workbench and outside on the terrace. Martyn Duke, the art teacher (far left, glasses), and Frank Long, the photography teacher (far right, top), two great people to work with, walked the students from the hotel over to my studio every morning. Afterwards a great grandfather sitting on a bench under a big plane tree in the village plaza said it was like the old days when shepherds would herd their sheep and goats through the middle of town on their way upriver to the mountains.

It Was a Long Rest

I didn’t realize then that we were in for a six-month–and counting–rest, as the coronavirus lockdown started shortly afterwards. Life changed radically. No more escapadas to our favorite fried-fish-and-chilled-white-wine bars. No more visits to and from friends and family. No more students. What day is it? What is the meaning of life, anyway? Are we going to get out of this alive?

Essentially I think the most important tool for dealing with dramatically unexpected circumstances is creativity. I’m always saying that creativity is not just about modeling clay or putting paint on canvas. It’s about everything we do in life. It’s our most important resource, especially in tricky times.

How to start? First of all, reading. Mike bought me an ereader for Christmas and downloaded tons of quality books. I started with Tolstoy–what a revelation–Mark Twain, Dickens, biographies of Caesar and Bonaparte, among other greats. (Conclusion: Nothing has changed.) Then cooking, first spending a month nurturing sourdough bread and pancakes (Mike says sourdough is an extraterrestre.) We’ve almost eliminated meat from our diet, replacing it with dozens of variations on different kinds of beans. Then cakes and baked apples. Oh, I almost forgot the big homemade jam selection. Our son has a fruit orchard. That helps. It’s creativity you can spread on pancakes.

As it turned out, we were lucky. We weren’t totally locked down, The regulation had a loophole for people to walk their dogs, so Diva saved our health and sanity. We would take her for walks along the old Sierra Nevada tram line or the river walk almost every day.

Another bright side: They say adapting to change keeps you young. So, when the initial shock began to wear off I decided to go back to painting. Painting was my first love, but I hadn’t had much time for it since the late 70s when I took up printmaking. Now the time was right. I even had oodles of paint and canvases I’d been buying over the years for a future when I could paint again.

Sometimes Mike Would Take a Camera

What’s Next?

Next is to keep on coping. To continue dealing with changes, surprises, alarms, disappointments, simple pleasures, polishing one’s sense of humor. If adapting to change makes you young we’ll be 10 years old before this is over. And that’s a good thing, as President Trump says Covid-19 doesn’t kill anybody… except old people.

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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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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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“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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An International Group of Young Artists from IB Bremen Get Into Inked Plates

Brenda Eubanks-Ahrens is back this year with the cream of her art class from the International Baccalaureate School from Bremen, Germany, eight young people with artistic leanings. I’m always impressed when I see just how serious they are about image making. It’s so satisfying working with these kids. For most of them it’s the first time they’ve ever been in an artist’s studio, and I feel privileged to have introduced them to their first one. Perhaps a bit of art magic will stay with them throughout their lives.

The weather was perfect; we ate out on the terrace in the shade of the grape vines every day. Mike was the cook and almost didn’t have enough time to make the photographs. In the end he was able to supplement those he made with some that my assistant, María José, made with her cell phone. (Thank you María José.)

Here are the photographs:

 

 

 

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Not having done fine art prints before she’s making up for lost time.
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Tasmanian artist, Frances Parker, and her husband, Mike, arrived last Sunday. Monday morning at nine she stepped into my studio and, after a 15-minute introduction, sat down to make her first print. At the end of that day she saw it come out of the etching press, having made not a single wrong move. The print could have been made by a professional. It was clear to me then that she was an experienced and talented artist who had been needing to make fine-art prints for a long time.

It’s the end of the week now, and we’ve just put the last of her work in the press so she can take it home nice and flat. Her new house includes beautiful studio space and a nearby friend has an etching press where she can also work. I’m looking forward to seeing the prints she produces over the next few years.
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Frances and Mike had unusually good luck as the dates of their visit coincided with the annual “Fiestas Patronales” in our village. (You can see my husband Mike’s photos of one night of the fiesta here.) So every evening there were lots of activities, lots of music and dancing and lots of exotic tapas with the beer, in all an intensive course in fiesta.

Photos by Mike Booth and Mike Parker

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Homenaje a Maureen

Somos Pineros

Homenaje a Maureen.
Hom

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