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Posts Tagged ‘printmaking Granada’

Staying Sane in Hard Times Requires a Little Fun

The pandemic has been messing with our minds and bodies for almost a year now and, instead of getting better little by little it’s getting worse all of a sudden. What are we supposed to do? I suggest that our first priority be to stay alive, by taking advantage of all the pertinent survival measures. You know what they are. Just apply them rigorously to yourself and your loved ones. Here in Spain we’re entering into the “third phase,” which promises to be the most virulent.

What lauched the virus’s latest improvement at the end of last year was the sentimentalism of the Navidad familiar, the family Christmas. How many grandparents were sacrificed to those joyous holidays. That period of Christmas cheer and deadly danger are even more dangerous here, as the Spanish celebrate 14 days of Christmas, from December 24, when they have their Christmas dinner, till January 6, the Epifany, when the los Reyes Magos, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar (The Three Wise Men) bring the children’s gifts. All of which doesn’t make much sense since the kids don’t get their presents until the day before they go gack to school. Perhaps this explains the rising popularity of Papá Noel (Santa Klaus, Father Christmas) here. He delivers more than two weeks in advance.

What’s Next Then?

If you’re reading this you have probably gotten through the joyous season alive. What next? As I see it, what’s next depends largely on you. In the case of my husband, Mike and me it revolves around three things: a project (or more than one), a sense of humor and an appreciation of simple pleasures. And I almost forgot the fourth factor: a loving pet, even if it’s your husband. I’m lucky enough to have both, and they’re both capable of making me laugh and cry.

We each have our own projects. He writes and makes photographs, and also cuts firewood. I’m painting a couple of portraits and working on my favorite-recipes portfolio of prints. We share the housework. Mike does the ironing, says it’s like meditation. I’m so glad he feels that way. I’m still cultivatinge flowers and vegetables in boxes. I’ve always had lots of flowers in the garden and loved them, but these little pansies and lettuces, the tomatoes and kale plants, and the tiny little pea plants, are something different. For one thing they’re mostly up on tables and walls, so they’re closer and you don’t have to bend down to tend them–and appreciate them close up. In all it’s a lot of fun. If you don’t have a garden, you can still do it on your porch or window ledges. Just wait till you cut the first frilly leaves of kale to adorn the top of a bean stew. Then you’ll understand.

Necessary Diversions

Before I forget, I want to mention the joy of Internet. It’s getting a lot of bad press lately because of sinister interests taking unfair advantage of its wonders. Even so, I consider it a blessing for mankind, especially during stressful times. It enables us to maintain contact–immediate personal contact–with family and friends regardless of distance. That is so enriching. And, as you probably have some time on your hands, it permits you to renew your contacts with friends from the old days, or even find new friends whom you find charming on the Web. Not to mention Google and Wikipedia, which make everything instantly look-upable. Think about it for a minute. How did we ever live without these two miraculous research resources? They make us so much smarter. And let’s not forget You Tube and its endless music offerings, and its wonderful documentaries.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we also get a lot of fun from cooking. As we go shopping much less frequently we often find ourselves short of ingredients, so we have to improvise, You can substitute apples or kiwis for tomatoes in a salad just fine.That shortage of ingredients also inspires creative cooking. The results aren’t always fully successful but usually they are. We made a delightful discovery lately. The little woodstove in our kitchen has a shallow compartment at the top, under the lid, where we found we can roast squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes and, mmm, apples. The other day we roasted half a chicken with sage and onion stuffing. That wasn’t bad, either. Does all of this good cooking put on weight? Hmm, yes.

The Essential Medications–Walking, Laughing and Helping

We do get a bit of cabin fever. That’s where a sense of humor is essential. If you can still laugh you’re probably going to be OK. We also try to get in an hour’s walk every day. That’s good for everything that might be wrong with you. We’re lucky to have a lovely walking path along the river (Río Genil) that runs below our house, through the village and on to Granada.

Another thing that will brighten your days is helping people out. Everybody has needs these days and there’s always something you can contribute, even if it’s only a sympathetic ear. We’ve got a big lemon tree we planted outside the kitchen window many years ago and now it bears so many lemons during six months a year that there is no way we can use them all, even though I make tons of our grandchildren’s favorite pancake and toast topping: lemon cheese, or do you call it “lemon curd?” Mike picks the extra lemons from time to time, puts them in bags and drops them off at our neighbors’ doors. He also leaves them at the bars and restaurants in our village.

We have a lot of bars for the size of our little town (pop. 1,250) because it’s a popular place during most of the year for people from the city which is just 8 km. (5 miles) down the road. They come out for the cool on summer evenings and the hearty food in winter. This local tourism started a few decades ago when a forward-thinking (or lucky) mayor dropped some ducks in the river where it passes through the town square. Soon the granadinos started bringing their children out to feed them dry bread (the ducks, not the kids.) Once the families got here they discovered a local bar whose owner, Marina, served up a powerful plate of arroz caldoso, the local-style juicy paella. Now we have 8 or 10 bars and restaurants and they all serve something. Today our river is full of big, beautiful white geese.

It’s a Winter Holiday

Did I mention that in wintertime, when I seldom have artists coming, we move into my Gallinero artists’ cabin at the end of our garden? It’s a lot cozier than our old stone house and easier to heat. It’s also quieter and has better views from its little terrace. In a way staying here is like being on holiday. We like it a lot except for the normal-size bed which is a bit too small for Cuca, Diva and Bundy to fit in with us comfortably. It’s a constant battle for space. Never mind, whatever inconvenience they cause, they more they make up for it in laughs, especially the chihuahua, Diva, the 4.5-pound (2.1-kilo) tyrant of the house. All in all, no complaints.

So take the best possible care of yourselves, don’t forget to laugh and, if you like, send me the stories of your own projects and I’ll post them here. And don’t forget that you and I have something in common. We all belong to the ideal world of painters and printmakers, which is a unique space of wonderful people, just for us.

Big Spanish-style hugs and kisses from Maureen.

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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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Children Loose in My Studio with Indelible Felt Pens

Our friends ask me frequently, “When are you going to do a workshop for children?I would love for our kids to participate.” So last Saturday I invited  a group of friends’ kids, along with our own grandchildren, to a day of printmaking in my studio. Some of them didn’t really know why they were here; they were sent. Some were frankly reluctant at first.

How does one overcome that reluctance and get them centered on the work. I found out a long time ago that it’s not so complicated as it seems. You put a sheet of acetate in one hand and a felt pen in the other and tell them to do whatever they like. No art teacher ever told them that before and it makes them feel empowered. That, and seeing their first print, maintains their enthusiasm.

Aside: One of the fathers was there when I passed out the materials, actually a well-known local painter. He stood over his daughter and started giving her instructions.  I suggested he might be more comfortable out in the sunshine and she immediately got seriously to work. Moral to the story: Children are actually people and people like freedom.

After creating their first image, seeing it burned on a solarplate and run through an etching press onto paper, they wanted to do more printss. I couldn’t keep up with them. The only way to slow them down was to announce lunch. What do kids like to eat? Anything followed by chocolate pudding.

They all went home with a couple of prints, some more, and a new  experience under their belts. The parents were also delighted. Some of them actually expressed an interest in doing some prints themselves.

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Photography by Miguel Ángel Martínez and Mike Booth

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Thanks for commenting and sharing.

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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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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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Karen Urquhart is an Australian girl who arrived at my workshop via London, where she has lived for eight years. Shortly after arriving she declared that her objective with this workshop was to enable her to fill out her printmaking skill set in order to set up her own studio when she got home. That’s a pretty big order for a 10-day workshop, but we set to work systematically using solarplate and liquid metal techniques.

Karen, who had done summer printmaking courses previously, had some grounding in printmaking, but more important than that she had a willingness to work long and hard. We would work mornings from 9:00 until 2:00 and after lunch she would go back down to the studio by herself and work past 9:00 p.m. I think that dedication shows in the work she produced while she was here (see photos below).

Karen has a lot of good ideas of her own, which made our creative time together very interesting.She liked very much the liquid metal technique and found ways of combining it with solar plates to achieve some surprising results.

It’s been great working with you, Karen. Come back and see us when you can.

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Here’s the second half of the photographs from the IB Bremen printmaking workshop 2016.

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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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Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…

We’ve had a bit of all that in the past few days but it didn’t slow down the art studets and professors from  The American School in Switzerland (TASIS). Twelve students from Italy, Turkey, Mexico, the USA, Russia, Afghanistan, UK, and France have come to Maureen’s studio for an intensive five-day introduction to solarplate printmaking.
Art professor Martyn Dukes and photography professor Frank Long have returned this year with another crop of young artists and photographers. Some of the photographers were asking themselves what they were doing in a printmaking course, but when they saw the first prints made by tracing over photographs on acetates, burning them on photosensitive plates and putting the plates through an etching press on beautiful paper, they quickly changed their minds.
Here’s the first snapshots from day one. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at some of the work they’ve done.

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Your first portfolio is a milestone. This is the point where you’ve practiced enough printmaking techniques to make a respectable showing with your first formal project. Your confidence has grown to an almost viable level—along with an equally-heightened case of nerves and apprehension. This is the big time. What subject should you choose? What techniques should you employ for this first effort? If I may offer my advice, choose a subject that is familiar to you, something you love and is close at hand. As for techniques, keep it simple. You’re just starting out. There’s plenty of time to get fancy as you go along.

Shall I tell you about my first portfolio? It was 1978 and my maestro, José García Lomas (Pepe Lomas to his friends), suggested that I might be ready to make my first portfolio of prints. I had been studying with him at the Rodríguez-Acosta Foundation in Granada for more than two years. Pepe  offered to guide me through process of making the portfolio. What a luxury that was.

He was delighted when I told him I had chosen a nonsense poem, The Owl and the Pussycat, by the English artist, illustrator, musician, author and poet, Edward Lear. This was a poem that, for some reason, I remembered vividly from my childhood. Pepe agreed with me that it offered splendid visual possibilities.

I must confess that the five plates that I created for The Owl and the Pussycat were not precisely simple. I worked on them for six months, pulling untold proof prints. Encouraged all along by my maestro, who wanted to see me show off the techniques he had taught me, techniques that I had practiced every weekday morning for more than two years, I went to work enthusiastically. So the etched zinc plates incorporated line work, aquatint, and soft ground. The Rodríguez-Acosta workshop had a wonderful big aquatint box with paddle bellows and we were still in the age of immortality. I suspect we all breathed a lot more resin than was good for us.

Before I even touched the first plate I did sketches for all five of them. Any comments Pepe made were always limited to technical considerations, as he always scrupulously respected his students’ artistic criteria. I started by varnishing five zinc plates and lightly etching in the basic drawings, then working the plates all up together starting with the aquatint. Though all the plates were different, this approach insured some degree of coherence across the whole portfolio.

We decided on an edition of 50 portfolios and 50 loose sets. Multiply that by five etchings plus a cover illustration and it adds up to 600 prints. Pepe insisted that the whole job be done by Angel and Pepillo, the workshop’s two printing technicians. The artists at the Foundation seldom touched the etching presses. While they did that I went off to find an offset print shop to print the cover text and colophon.

I presented The Owl and the Pussycat along with other work in an exhibition at Granada’s wonderful Palacio de la Madraza, the 14th-century building opposite the cathedral. La Madraza housed Granada’s first university and belongs to the University of Granada today.

This was the most successful portfolio I ever did.

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