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by Mike Booth

Ever Been Poleaxed by Delight?

For many summers we’ve been driving up to the forest above a neighboring village to gather pine cones for starting fires. They’re ideal for the job, dry and resinous. We need them as the firewood we use—olive, almond and live oak—is hard to light and in wintertime all of our heating and most of our cooking is done on wood fires. Sometimes we take along a picnic. One time we were up there in a sunny clearing enjoying a potato omelette and some red wine while our two little terriers ran around chasing lizards and butterflies. When we finished lunch and rolled over on our backs on the blanket, staring aimlessly skyward, we discovered a pair of golden eagles circling quite a bit lower than usual. They were thinking about lunch, too.

Prohibition

A couple of years ago it occurred to the forestry authority to prohibit collecting anything in the natural park forests. But we still need pine cones, so I came up with a business plan. I would drive up there before dawn on a Sunday morning, while Smokey Bear was still in bed, and load the back of the car with big 100-liter black plastic garbage bags full of pine cones.

It’s a half-hour drive up there from our house and when I left last Sunday at 7:00 a.m. it was 19º down there and a bracing 13º up on the mountain. I turned off on a forestry trail, followed it for a kilometer and parked at the edge of the road. There were enough plump pine cones within a 30-meter radius to fill the four bags that would fit in the back of the car. After scurrying around filling two of them I sat down on a carpet of pine needles for a break. Then it struck me: the silence, the solitude, the pine-scented air… I should come up here more often.

Churros and Glee

Add to that the larcenous glee of stealing the pine cones and you have most of the makings of a perfect Sunday morning. All that was lacking was a double coffee and a plate of the fried batter rings the Spanish call “churros,” and I would see to that at the bar on the way down.

I was headed due south on the dirt trail when I burst out of the woods and found myself on the rim of a great bowl, looking down into a vast valley full of valleys crosslit from the east by the morning sun. Then, as I lifted my gaze I was confronted by one of our old friends, the eagles, soaring low in the distance beneath seven layers of mountain ridges receding into the haze of the upper reaches of Sierra Nevada.

Self Help

I was almost down to the level of the Río Quentar at the bottom of the valley, only half listening to a Spanish self-help guru on Sunday-morning radio discussing the healing effects of nature when a “cabra montesa” (Spanish ibex) appeared in front of me, like a traffic warden, securing the road for her half-grown kid from last spring’s brood, who trotted out of the bushes behind her. Maybe I’ll go back again next Sunday.
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Watch This Young Artist

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One day in 1770 when Captain Cook was sailing past a little island on the northeast coast of Australia his compass started misbehaving. He presumed it had to do with deposits of magnetic minerals found there and named the place “Magnetic Island.” (Those were the days when the Brits could name and claim territories just by sailing past them.) In the end it turned out not to be magnetic, but never mind. 

Two and a half centuries later Chelsea Candy was born there and grew up to be one of the most authentic people we have ever met. Her effortless manner of just being herself makes the people around her feel more like themselves, a delightful event when it (seldom) happens. Twenty-nine years old now, she’s built a studio beside her house and has decided to become a printmaker. After working with her for 10 days I’m sure she will succeed.

Chelsea showed up here a couple of weeks ago to extend and polish her printmaking skills. I have seldom seen an artist so well centered and hard working. Driven by an overriding enthusiasm to learn as much as she could Chelsea was in the studio every morning and afternoon turning out traditional acid etchings, solarplate and liquid-metal prints (See below, though her best prints, made on the last day, missed getting photographed.)

So busy she was making prints that she didn’t even get to see the Alhambra, the one excursion here that nobody misses. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I’ll see the Alhambra next time.”

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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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Maureens new microgallery

When our son got married and left home we inherited his bedroom, a place with a separate entrance at the west end of the house. For years we used it as an overflow area and called it “the Print Room,” because I stored some prints there. Mainly it was home to my paper cutter. (That black artifact on a wooden stand behind my right elbow in the photo is a cast-iron guillotine built around the end of the 19th century in Leipzig, Germany. It still cuts paper, cardboard and solar plates beautifully.) With time, however, the roof began to leak and the Print Room became a cold, damp, unpleasant place.

After last Christmas we finally got around to fixing it up and I confess I’m delighted with the results. The idea was to clear out alll the junk, put on a new roof on it and convert it into a mini gallery for showing some of my prints and paintings. We just finished hanging the work a couple of days ago and I think it looks great.

Maureens new microgallery

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Maureen Booth screenprintMy 40%-Off Summer Sale was a surprising success. It seems a big discount is a big incentive. So I’ve decided to extend it till Oct. 2 for all those clever people who didn’t look at Internet during the month of August. You’re not too late. You can now download any and all of the videos at a discount of 40%. So you can now purchase a single video, normally $19.95, for $11.97. And all six of them are just $71.82, down from $119.70.

I had a lot of fun making these printmaking instruction tapes with video producer, Juan Carlos Romera, and they have received a warm reception from the printmakers who have downloaded them thus far.

To take advantage of this extended offer you’ll need this discount code: 90U010R3. When you reach the payment stage of the order process on my Printmaking Master Classes site, just introduce the discount code when prompted.

Happy printmaking! September is a wonderful month to make prints.

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Impresiones Gigantes 2013Granada celebrated all day yesterday, Saturday May 25, 2013 the second edition of  Impresiones Gigantes in which a group of hard-working international lino-cut artists bring their linos out into the park, ink them in front of a mesmerized public, then carefully lay them down on the street , cover them with fabric and run a road roller over them. Shazam!  A giant print. Then they hang them all over the bandstand and the lamp posts in the Paseo del Salón. It makes a glamorous display that attracts lots of art lovers and Saturday strollers. (more…)

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What’s a Gallinero? And why would you want to stay there?

Cathy Naro and Maureen Booth in Maureen's printmaking studio in Granada, Spain

Chicago printmaker, Cathy Naro, who was here last year around this time, has returned for another workshop with Maureen. This time they’re working on combining some of the solar-plate prints Cathy made last time with liquid-metal techniques. (more…)

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