Home > Uncategorized > Six Things that Surprise Artists When They Stay in the Gallinero – II/II

Six Things that Surprise Artists When They Stay in the Gallinero – II/II

El Gallinero's kitchen/sitting area with French doors to terrace, passage to work/sleep area.4.   The Focus—When is the last time you’ve had two or three weeks with nothing to think about, nothing to spend your time on but art? It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? But that’s what happens to people when they arrive in Granada for one of my printmaking workshops. This is especially true of the artists who come to do one-on-one collaborative work with me. Their existence here is almost monastic.

They divide their time between the creative cloister of the Gallinero and my studio. We usually work together for five hours each morning. Then, after lunch, they make their own hours, either working in the studio or sketching glimpses of the village and the surroundings. Some of them stay in the studio past midnight.

Granada is one of the most enchanting tourist destinations in Europe. Do my artists spend much time going sightseeing, to the beach, shopping or dining in our city’s fine restaurants? Not too much, with the notable exception of a visit to the Alhambra, which is they consider a must. Mainly they make prints. And all of them take home a fat portfolio of full of them.

5.   The Garden—Our garden used to be much more orderly but since our kids left home the area we cultivate is pretty much limited to the flower beds around the house and the Gallinero, the outlying fruit and olive trees, the grapevines over the terrace, and the strawberry patch in our former swimming pool.

The remainder of our hillside garden, left to its own devices for the past decade, has reverted to its primal state—overgrown with prickly-pear cactus topped by great rolling swells of morning glories.

In short, between the voracious morning glories and the out-of-control patches of honeysuckle, the datura bushes (“loco weed” to you westerners) with their satiny white trumpets, and spiky acanthus plants, our garden is a mess. It has only one redeeming quality. Artists love it.

6.   The Wellbeing—That’s the best word I can think of to describe it. Let me tell you about Jaime. He came with his compañera—that’s a wonderful Spanish word which means girlfriend, mate, significant other—to do a solar-plate workshop. When they arrived he seemed distant and frankly unhappy. I mentioned it to Ana. “Jaime has bouts of depression,” she said.

So the three of us started working together in my studio. Jaime has an extraordinary command of Photoshop and, before we were finished, he had produced from his photographs some of the most beautifully-nuanced solar-plate prints I have ever seen. In the process he changed from a lost soul into a cheerful and self-confident fine-art printmaker. It was not only a remarkable transition to share with him, but a powerful demonstration of the healing effects of peace and artwork on a troubled soul.

That’s my analysis of what goes on here. I confess it sounds rosy, but it’s all true. For me it has been an ongoing source of wonder. For years I always worked by myself, which is great, though it can get lonesome. But in the past couple of years I have met and worked with so many wonderful people from all over the world—12 countries at last count—that suddenly I have an extraordinary group of new artist friends on which the sun never sets. What a rare privilege.

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