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Posts Tagged ‘printmaking in Granada’

This project wouldn’t have been possible without the invaluable help of my
studio assistant, María José Braojos and her daughter, Silvia Romera Braojos,
as well as Ricardo Calvente Chacón, of the Del Arco Print Shop in Granada.
And, of course, Mike, my photographer, webmaster, and husband.

I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends

Much as I have tried over the past long year to stay positive, I confess it hasn’t always been easy and at times events have taken a toll on my morale. The pandemic took us all by surprise. Life was different and we suspected it would never be the same again, but first we had to survive the virus. (We have a friend who did die–briefly–and came back and told us about it.) We couldn’t see friends and family, which in Spain form the cornerstone of life on this planet. We couldn’t go out for a drink and tapas. Or drive down to the beach. Our life was reduced to a recurring supermarket-pharmacy-laundromat routine. Though, I shouldn’t complain too much. We were never without our inspiring riverside walking path, nor the loving company of Cuca, Diva, Bundy, Rosey and Susu, whom Mike refers to as “our little people.”

As I mentioned before, it was María José who inspired me to get back to work in a serious way. Let me tell a bit about her. She has become for me more of a daughter than a helper. We met 20 years ago when her husband, Juan Carlos Romera, was planning the production of a 38-minute short film called “Bive,” (“Live” in semi-literate Spanish). He needed a foreign woman artist for a story set in a fishing village in the Mediterranean province of Almería. As soon as he saw my studio he said, “You’re the one… and we’ll shoot the studio scenes in here.” María José was his assistant on Bive. Working on the film with Juan Carlos, María José, and his professional crew from Madrid was all new to me. It was hard work during a hot summer, but intensely interesting, and included some good fun. (You can see the complete film here on YouTube.) But I’m meandering again. What makes working with María José so gratifying is her limitless good humor, her sweet demeanor, her careful work, and her readiness to learn. She’s one of the most positive people I’ve ever known.

It Turned Out to Be a Healing Process

So we decided to start on the prints-and-recipes project. I prepared the originals on acetates and when they were all ready María José stepped in to help me burn the plates and pull the prints. That was our usual procedure. What was new in the process was the hand coloring (“illuminating” is the delightful traditional term) of all the prints, for which her help was invaluable. It was an extremely limited edition of 19 portfolios, but each one had 16 prints and they all had to be colored by hand. It was a demanding, meticulous job that required concentration to the exclusion of everything else. That exclusion included all forms of worry, anxiety, or stress.

A few days after we finished illuminating the prints and had wedded them with the introductory texts and the portfolios (which I made to measure myself), and sold the first few books, it occurred to me that I was feeling quite a bit better. People liked the portfolio. I was full of pride and optimism, and had some money jingling in my pocket. I even had some new projects fall into my lap, a couple of portraits and a big job for our village’s new Sierra Nevada tram museum. It seems I have been renewed by a combination of art, work, and loyal friends. I have always prided myself on being a working artist, and this is just one more proof of its miracles.

I wonder if this simple formula might not work for you, too.

P.S. There are still a few portfolios left. If you need one you can contact me via email: maureenluciabooth (at) gmail.com.

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We’re Approaching the Launch

It’s been an eventful month and we’re approaching the end of the Maureen’s Kitchen project, hand coloring the prints. It has been a lovely team experience. Ricardo, our neighbor from down the hill, has a print shop in Granada. He does wonderful work, including a recent exquisite book on our pueblo. I was concerned about printing the recipes (in English and Spanish) on textured etching paper but Ricardo said, “no problem” and they came out perfect. That text was on the left side of each DIN-A4 sheet (210 × 297 millimeters or 8.27 × 11.69 inches). On the right side of each paper my assistant, María José, and I hand printed the plates on the small etching press in my studio (which was given to me years ago by my dear friend, Mararo, and now use more than the big one). The result looks like a marriage made in heaven. (See Mike’s photos, below.) It only remains to make the portfolios and assemble them and decide on a cover design. I’ll let you know.

Here’s Some of the Finished Color Proofs

You Like Luxury? Try a Family of Little Birds Outside Your Kitchen Window

One of the most delightful things we discovered over the last month was a pair of tiny birds building a nest near the top of a small cypress tree outside our kitchen window. As the Gallinero, where we spend the winter (at 40 meters from our house) is on a steep hillside and the cypress grows on the downside, when we look out the kitchen window we’re looking at the top of the tree, where the birds are working just six or seven meters from the window. Not that we can see them building the nest, as that happens inside the dense branches of the tree. We just see them coming and going. They know what they’re doing.

We still don’t know for sure what class of birds they are. As close as we can get they look like the family of the European Black Caps or American Chicadees, most likely the 11 cm. Willow Warbler but maybe the Chiffchaff (called that because of their call: “chiff-chaff.”) I’ll post some pictures here of what we found on the Web and what their nest probably looks like inside that cypress.

How My Garden Grows

My miniature garden started out early this spring with eight or ten boxes. Suddenly it’s up past twenty. And Mike found a nest of lovely plastic boxes sitting outside a local supermarket last night, waiting for the bin man. So now my garden will soon be bigger. This is what the Spanish call “vicio,” and it takes a lot of different forms. It’s not that we don’t eat something from my garden almost every day. Whether it’s the lovely sweet peas, a few spinach leaves in a salad, some Swiss chard in a stew, or the latest surprise: big, bright red strawberries. What a thrill.

Our Grandson Claudio, Looking Like a Footballer at 14

I Hope This Spring is Being Kind to You

I have a suggestion for at least making it feel kinder. Instead of scheduling youself one long walk daily, try two short ones. It was something Dr. Salvatierra (“Save the Earth”), my arthritis specialist, suggested and it works, both physiologically and psychologically, though I’m not sure why. He recommends starting with 20 minutes each walk. See if it doesn’t work for you.

See you soon. Now I’ve got to go down and illuminate a few prints.

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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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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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Jan Reawakens Her Printmaking Enthusiasm in Granada

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Jan Stickland is coming back. After two serious operations in the past year, she decided to try her newly recovered wings with a solo trip to Spain from her home in Australia and an intensive printmaking workshop with Maureen here in Granada. She achieved both with high marks. When she left she was full of ideas, plans and a determination to buy an etching press and set up her own studio at home. “Maureen made me see that it was not only possible but necessary,” says Jan. “The truth is I always feel best when I’m making art.”

Jan is a country girl, raised in a village in the state of Victoria where her mother would pack her a lunch in the morning and she could spend the entire day walking alone in the woods. “I got to know every inch of that forest,” she says nostalgically. Having spent her professional life as a primary school teacher, with what she refers to as a “disjointed relationship with art,” Jan is now retired with her children grown up and independent. “It’s time to get back to art,” she says, adding, “I confess, though, that my principal motive for coming to work with Maureen was not mainly about printmaking. It was to relax and clear my head. But Maureen quickly took me far beyond that. This became a working holiday. We worked hard together and I learned more in a short time than ever before in my life, and not just about printmaking techniques and creative printing, but also studio practice and organization. In her studio Maureen seems always to have the materials she needs–down to an important scrap of grandmother’s lace or a pressed flower–close at hand. She buys most of her materials on Internet and they are delivered to her door.

This was Jan’s second visit to Spain. She was here last year after being chosen to represent Australia in the IMPACT 10 Encuentro, the tenth edition of the International Multidisciplinary Printmaking Conference created by the University of the West of England which was held in the city of Santander, Spain, from September 1 to 9, 2018. Jan had another compelling reason to visit Spain. Her son married a Spanish girl and they live in a hillside village in the province of Alicante just a 15-minute drive from the Mediterranean coast.

In answer to the question, “Why printmaking?” Jan replies, “It’s the serendipity, the magic that happens every time you pull that blanket back off a freshly pressed print.”

While Jan was here she also found time in the afternoons to stroll through the village and try its restaurants. One of those afternoons she coincided with the annual “Fiesta del Agua” and joined in the fun with the village young people. On her last afternoon, she accompanied Maureen on a delightful walk through a pine forest (“ahh, the smell…”) located 1,000 vertical meters above the village, where it’s 6-8ºC cooler on summer afternoons. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Jan coming back one of these years. It’s not just the printmaking. There is also her family down there in Alicante, just a short bus ride away.

Photos by Mike Booth
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I just found this in my visitors’ book and was moved by it:

Dear Maureen and Mike,

Thank you so much for the most memorable printmaking experience I have ever had. At the same time I realized that you were a mother to me in so many ways, especially in printmaking. I will always cherish my time with you in the studio working out my complicated project.

You are very creative and have many ideas and I appreciate your mentorship in the business of art. You have taught me what it means to be a working artist.

Mike was a friend to my husband, Rich, and I know he enjoyed the walks and working together on the technical issues such as the wife. Mike is awesome! The paella was excellent and I loved meeting all your friends and family. And, to top it off, the spa treatment every other day did us wonders. You have been a true blessing all around. We will be sending some salmon from Alaska (wild caught) for sure.

Love you and Mike,

Rhonda  & Rich
XX OO XX OO

Thank you, Rhonda. The feeling is mutual. We hope to see you back here whenever you can make it.

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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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More Photographs from IB Bremen’s Printmaking Workshop in Granada with Maureen Booth

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They Arrive as High-School Art Students, but I Think They Leave Feeling a Little Bit More Like Artists,

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Like half of the artists who arrive at my studio affirming that they can’t draw, many of Brenda’s students were shy about their drawing skills. So I dispelled that doubt at the very beginning. “Don’t worry about drawing, ” I said, “Just make some images on these acetates and we’ll burn them onto solar plates. You can used textures, impressions, text, and you can even draw! The results were gratifying both for them and for me. These extremely attentive and polite Bremen young people took immediately to printmaking like ducklings to water.

Mike, who was also the cook, made these photographs on their last day. As there are “too many photos” he has suggested publishing half of them today and the other half tomorrow. He doesn’t want you choking on them.

(Click on an image to enlarge it and open a slide show.)

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