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The Story of This Print: “El Patio del Harem”

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

"El Patio del Harem" Liquid-metal print by Maureen Booth

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Back at the Alhambra

I’ve started on a series of medium-sized liquid-metal prints on Alhambra themes. Granada’s medieval fortress and palace has been for centuries a source of inspiration for artists, writers and photographers, so much so that today it’s difficult to get an original take on it. This time I’m relying on the inherent looseness of the liquid-metal technique to try to achieve Alhambra images with some originality.

I had one of those wonderful printmaking experiences at the beginning of this project. The first proofs I pulled from the first plate, El Patio del Harem, looked frankly great and I thought, “This is it, I’ll print up an edition.” But before I could start, I took a close look at one of the plates from which I had just pulled a proof. In the ink residue left on the plate I could still see beautiful detail. So I rubbed a light layer of yellow ink into it, rolled some fresh silver ink on top and put it back through the press, making a “ghost print.” I was shocked to see how superior the ghost was to the live one. I have placed the original print at the top of this post, the ghost below. See if you don’t agree with me.

"El Patio del Harem-Ghost" Liquid-metal print by Maureen Booth

This print was done with liquid metal on an old, previously-etched copper plate, a still life with fruit. I put the cold solder on with a palette knife and when it was still quite sticky I drew into it with a stylus. I didn’t press any texture elements into it until about an hour and a half later. I left it overnight to harden and printed it on 600 gr. handmade paper. The ghost print was printed on 375 gr. Paperki handmade paper. I like this one better.

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

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

The Gallinero bedroom/workroom with view through to kitchen/sitting roomMaureen Booth, Granada, July 18, 2011–I’ve had artists coming to stay in my “Gallinero” artists’ residence and work with me in my printmaking studio for a year and a half now. I’ve welcomed all sorts of people: working artists, advanced beginners, people between the ages of 15 and 82, a Canadian return-to-art person, a couple of delightful veteran artists and art educators from Colorado, a Hungarian sculptor, an Australian painter… All of them have taught me something, and I’d like to think the experience was mutual. And there’s one thing they all agree upon: Printmaking here in Granada and staying in the Gallinero is a unique creative experience. That compels me to try to figure out what makes it so. I’ve made a list of possible factors: Read more…

El Gallinero Receives First Artists, Makes for Busy Springtime 2010

El Gallinero Receives Its First Artists, Makes for a Busy Springtime in 2010

It’s been a busy month and a half in my studio, working with artists from both sides of the Atlantic. All of them stayed in our new Gallinero (“Chicken House”) artists’ residence and have confirmed our highest hopes for that
studio/cabin as a place which genuinely inspires creative work.

Isabel Fallow
The first one to visit was Isabel Fallow, accompanied by her husband, Jack, a professional communicator and mediator (in the peacemaking sense of the word) who dedicated his time to reading and relaxing and sorting out the world with my husband Mike while Isabel and I worked together in the studio.

Isabel, like all the others in this post, found my studio on Internet (I’m not sure where as Mike has put me all over the place…) She’s a professional painter and printmaker from Buckinghamshire in the U.K. Her work is bold with a distinctive personal touch, and her drawings lent themselves nicely to the creation of solar-plate prints. She was delighted with the results and is already talking about coming back for more, perhaps with a few artist friends.

Beatriz Taillefer & Eduardo
Beatriz and Eduardo are, respectively, an established painter and a professional photographer from Málaga on the southern Mediterranean coast of Spain. Both were fascinated with the solar-plate techniques, and anxious to apply them to their work, each in their own way. Beatriz, who is doing a lot of portrait commissions lately, was anxious to change techniques for a while, so she spent some time working on her favorite subject, flowers, which she does beautifully.

Eduardo’s prints, based on his photographs expertly manipulated in PhotoShop, surprised me with their artful qualities. Who said you can’t make real art with a computer?  Artistic creation aside, Beatriz and Eduardo discovered that the bar next door served free tapas with the drinks and became loyal regulars there evenings.

Janet Stahle-Fraser
Janet arrived in early June, along with her husband, Dave, from their cabin “in the bush” somewhere north of Toronto. In the two weeks she spent in my studio Janet touched some of the most interesting techniques: solar plate, carborundum, liquid metal, chine collé and  experimental printing. She was delighted to go home with a big bundle of plates and prints under her arm, which she will be showing this summer in her Tapawingo Studio in Baysville, Ontario.

Dave, whom Mike refers to as his “Canadian expert,” got stuck into what was supposed to be a minor building project with Mike but wound up as two days of hard-rock mining, as the walls of our house are of stone almost two feet thick!
The final result was the hanging of this antique plant hanger which they found in a second-hand lot for 10 euros, thinking it was “a bargain.”

Note: There are still some available spaces in my calendar of summer workshops, both for the courses and the Gallinero. But you need to write me soon, or phone (+34 658 953399) before they are spoken for.

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What’s a Gallinero? Why Should You Want to Stay There?

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Interior of El Gallinero, Maureen Booth's artist and writers' residence in GranadaA “Gallinero” in Spanish is a Chicken Coop

We called our new artists’ and writers’ residence “El Gallinero” because it’s located where our chicken house used to be. Sometime after the chickens had an unfortunate encounter with a weazel, we built my first painting studio there in the mid-70’s. When I got my new etching and painting studio 10 years later, the old one was relegated to storeroom status, and deteriorated over the years.

For a long time I’ve needed a place to accommodate the artists who come for my summer etching workshops and those who come to do collaborative work during the rest of the year. Then last fall we decided to get started on it. The plans were a bit vague: re-roof and restore the original studio, add a kitchen/living area in the available space behind it, and a little terrace with a view off the kitchen.

“Why Does This Casita Have to be Limited to Artists?”

Luckily our village builders are tolerant and creative, and they signed on for the project. Little by little the new artists’ residence began to take shape.  We were delighted with the results, achieved in spite of five straight weeks of record monsoon winds and rains during the building work. At one point someone said, “Why does this casita have to be limited to artists? Wouldn’t writers appreciate it’s spaciousness, tastefulness and tranquil setting, too?”  That’s how the Gallinero became an “artists’ and writers’ refuge.”

We’re Open for Business

We have now begun to accept reservations. Please take a look at the information and photographs in the pages of this site and see if you don’t think a shorter or longer stay in the Gallinero might not get your creative juices flowing. Of course, the appeal of this residence is not limited just to its own spaces and installations. It’s located in Spain, at the edge of a village nine kilometers (an easy 15-minutes) from the historical Andalusian city of Granada with both the Sierra Nevada ski resort and the Mediterranean shore within a 45-minute drive. If you haven’t been to Granada yet, it’s about time. If you’ve been here already, you know why you’ve been yearning to come back.

The Spanish say, “Todo es ponerse.” A rough English translation: “Just go for it!”

Exterior of El Gallinero, Maureen Booth's artists' and writers' residence in Granada