Sunday, 5 February 2012

Andalucian Adventure, Part 1 - Storytelling Sunday 2012 - February

Welcome to my February contribution to Sian's 2012 Storytelling Sunday posts! I have a real-life story for you today - with pictures of course - which explains why I haven't been around Blog-Land for a few days.

* * *

On Friday 27th January, I crept out of bed at 5am and quietly had a shower, got dressed and went downstairs to (try to) eat breakfast.  Mr LizzieMade came down to help me and saw me off in a taxi at 6am. 

A 6:30 train to London, underground, then the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) to London City Airport. 

My plane left mid-morning and I arrived at Malaga airport around lunch time (they were pretty good to us on the plane and gave us a cooked breakfast, which wasn't bad at all, considering it was airline food!).   I was very lucky to be met at the airport by Mariann, so I didn't have to worry about finding transport from there. 

There was Mariann, with a big welcoming smile.  We've been chatting via Mariann's blog, for a couple of years or so (I have learned so much from her posts and the brilliant printmaking videos she posts).  It really felt like meeting a friend, which was lovely.

Outside the sun was shining and it was about 18-20 degrees (C). The drive from Malaga took about 20 minutes, along a nice new motorway.  We could see the sea for a lot of the drive and it was very pretty, as we climbed up into the Andalucian hills.  It's been so warm this winter, that many of the plants are still flowering from the autumn and some spring-flowering plants are blossoming already. 

We arrived in Mijas by about 2pm and Mariann showed me where the apartment was (as her sister had stayed there once - what a co-incidence!).  She left me to settle in and arranged to meet me in the evening, to go out for something to eat. 

The apartment was very nice.  It's situated in a new area of Mijas, at the Eastern end, called "Mijas Nuevo Pueblo" (the New Village).  The houses are all built in the traditional style though, so they blend very well with the older buildings nearby.
One of the new buildings - a very traditional style.
The Plaza where my apartment was.

Mijas, being a hill town, has many levels, which are linked by numerous flights of steps, steep little roads and a sort-of cross between the two, where the steps are long and sloping. 
Steps in the new Pueblo, and steps in the old Pueblo - they have many pretty designs of bricks and stones, decorating the steps and lanes. 
A steep slope made easier with long steps to take out some of the steepness  (look at the fabulous view - all the way to the sea!)

We went out in the evening, to a little tapas bar.  I had never eaten tapas, as there are no Spanish restaurants near where I live.  I was fairly sure it would just be a selection of small plates of stuff, like cold meat, cheese, olives and so on; I was right, but there was much more variety.  The tapas we ate on Friday evening included prawns on skewers, lovely sheeps' milk cheese, tasty vegetable dishes, sausage - chorizo, salami etc, nice bread... lots of stuff.   I really enjoyed it - I think I could happily eat this kind of food several times a week and because it's shared out between everyone, accompanied by chat and music etc, I found I was less likely to overeat (a bad habit of mine is to scoff my food far too quickly - a sure way to put on weight!).

So, on Saturday morning I was up and dressed, ready for my first day of Printmaking.  I had been shopping on Friday afternoon, so there was a little stock of food for my breakfast.  Spanish breakfast for Lizzie?  Well, weetabix (!) and soy milk (kindly provided by Mariann, who wasn't sure if the local supermarket would stock it).  But afterwards, Spanish bread - so yummy - with Peach jam, which was a lovely treat.  And orange juice, from Spanish oranges - also yummy.

The view from my window on Saturday morning - and a pony-carriage for tourists, which regularly passed my windows, then turned at the end of the road for its journey back into town.

I was met part-way to the Studio, by Kit - one of Mariann's local friends, who had come out with us the previous evening and was joining the course for the weekend.  She showed me the way through the town - with a detour to see important places, such as the post office, shops I might need, landmarks; she also told me how to find the park and other nice places to visit.

So we started our Linocut course.  We were supposed to be doing "Basic Linocuts"... hmm...

We each had two small plates - about 3" x 5" - to make Valentine cards.  We spent Saturday morning drawing our plans, then tracing them and transferring onto the plates.  The designs were cut out and "proofed" - test printed - then printed up onto nice printmaking paper, folded to make cards.   
My desk - I can't show you my prints yet... just in case Certain People read this blog post!
Here's Mariann, demonstrating the inking up of a plate.
Kit and Nina learn to operate the small Press.
Kit's card is in the Press...
Nina takes photos (she is a photographer - see Nina's lovely pet portraits here!)
Kit's finished card - such fun!

I didn't get many pictures in the studio, but I've been promised some of the ones taken by the others!!

Then, after a lovely lunch, sitting and chatting at Mariann's big dining table...
Mariann's courtyard garden, with a lovely orange tree - a great view while we ate lunch.

... we started on a larger print.  This was a plate about 9" x 6" or so, which would fit nicely in a standard picture frame/mount.  

Mariann had - from previous experience - decided to give us a theme, so we wouldn't have to struggle for ideas!  However, we'd all arrived with a variety of pictures and photos and plenty of ideas of our own.  What was intended to be a theme of "Nature" became "favourite photos"!  Mariann was very patient and nice about this - she's not precious or bossy, no insisting we "do it my way" etc, she's just great!

I started out with a wonderful image from a postcard, which I traced onto my lino plate and started planning how to cut it.  Mariann suggested that it would actually be a very good subject for a "Reduction Linocut".  This is where the plate is gradually cut away (or reduced), and printed in layers, with each coloured layer cut out in stages.  There is a great video, posted by Mariann, that shows the Lino Reduction technique and explains it very well. 

Kit and Nina had each chosen a subject that had great shapes and shading.  After a bit of thinking, they also ended up deciding on lino reduction.  So much for "Basic" linocutting!

So, it added complexity to our printmaking and we had to think hard about the way our prints would be made.  It also meant that the process would take longer than just a one-colour print edition, so we all had to work quickly.  
Inking up Kit's print - light grey layer.
Printing one of Kit's colours.

The whole edition of prints is done at once, with Lino Reduction, since you will then cut away all areas that you want to keep in that colour (ie. if you want areas to remain white, you cut them away before you print the first colour, leaving all other coloured areas intact.  Then you'd cut away the areas that you wanted to keep in the ink you just printed, etc etc - but see Mariann's film if you really want to understand!)  As you're removing parts of the plate as you go along, the plate will no longer be available to print the first/second/third colours etc, only the final-colour cutting will remain. 

We each had enough sheets of paper for a 10 print edition, with some extra for proofing.  Obviously, as we were learning, mistakes were made and some prints didn't work very well, so the "Edition of 10" was reduced a bit, but I know we all learned loads.

Kit's gorgeous cat print...
Nina's night-time street.

I really love the prints Kit and Nina produced.  It was a great weekend and so much fun. 

This was my own print.  It's called "Reflection" - work it out!

To see what Mariann had to say about the weekend, take a look at her blog post, here.
Thanks Mariann - it was a great weekend!

* * *

That's the end of the first part of my Adventure.  I'll post a couple more "episodes" this week, as it's a long story! 

Thanks for reading.  If you want to see more of the stories from this month's participants, go back to Sian's blog post, where everyone has linked their blog, then pick a few - happy reading! 


  1. How lovely that you got to go to Spain for a crafty class. I have happy memories of a weekend in Mijas.

  2. Oh wow, those prints are great. Sounds like you had a really nice time.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful course and how lovely to travel to Spain to participate. Can't wait to see what you produced.

  4. That's stunning print, Lizzie! How super to go all the way there for a course. I felt quite homesick having lived in Andalucia ... Looking forwards to the next episode!

  5. What a lovely place to go on a's very picturesque down there! Looking forward to hearing more
    Alison xx

  6. What an adventure! It looks like you had a wonderful time, and I'm sure today there will be lots of UK ladies envying you that break in the sunshine! I'm looking forward to Part Two..and I'm also admiring the beautiful prints, Very lovely indeed.

    Thanks for letting us have a glimpse of something you love for Feb's Storytelling Sunday

  7. The course looked great fun and what a bonus to be in such a beautiful (and warm) location.

  8. Ooooh I love Lino printing - lots of fond memories of the huge press in the back of the art room in it's own little room. You did lots of learning and laughing it sounds like - the tapas sound lovely too. The beauty of the surroundings (and warmth) was such a bonus.

  9. So jealous! That looks amazing. I really love the print you did, the composition is fantastic.

  10. What a beautiful place?! I love the prints you all came back with and it looks great fun!

    Thanks for the ideas on my back. I've been having physio for about 6 weeks and have had an MRI and seen a consultant and had osteo treatment too. Lets just say its a work in progress!

  11. Wow that lino cut really is amazing. And it looks as thought you could still use it of you use a permanent black ink and then grey watercolour to add some shading.

  12. What an absolutely amazing experience for you Lizzie, I have thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Spain today!

  13. Wonderful news Lizzie - you certainly sound like you've had a good time in Spain - and those prints - stunning!

  14. I'm quite jealous of your arty trip - it looks beautiful and so does your print :)

  15. I love that part of Spain, and the prints are all gorggeous!

  16. The place you stayed looks GORGEOUS - I must visit someday! And those prints are awesome! :)

  17. what a great trip, perfect prints, wonderful weather, fab food and friendship looking forward to hearing more xxx

  18. Hello! Popping by after your lovely comment on my blog - and oh my! I am loving your posts! The prints are beautiful and book binding - I'd love to give that a go for sure. I'll be popping by more frequently now :)
    Kyleigh (kyleighspapercuts)

  19. I spy a Parkside Harmony book in Spain! How fun!!! :D

  20. Oh yes! It's my favourite sketchbook, so I had to take it with me.

  21. What a cool trip!! There is a lino cut artist near where I used to live and she was part of a well known group of American artists, the Folly Cove group. We're going back for a few weeks this summer and I can't wait to stop by her shop.

  22. Ooh, thank you Juliette - looks interesting. I'm off to have a proper look!


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