Saturday, March 21, 2015

Akua Inks, Dairy Cows and the Final Leg of my Residency

This little press is working brilliantly!  I'll be able to come home with great quality prints all done. A couple of nice working surprises here (if you're not a printmaker you might want to skip this part). One was finding such a lovely little press here. Two was discovering that a small one like this will do what I need. We just cut a longer board to run through it. And three; the Akua inks I've always used for test prints work brilliantly with a press!  I've always switched to messy oil based inks when it was time to run finished prints because I thought it was necessary to get that rich smooth dark. Once the little press was set up in my studio I thought I'd run a test to see if it was working properly. I didn't want to drag the oil based ink out and make a mess so I ran a print with the Akua. Wow.  It's better than oil based in a press. Richer looking, easier to work with, and no bleeding. When I first heard about it I bought a full range of colours. When I tried it at home I couldn't get the same quality of hand transferred print that I could with oil, so it was relegated to the back cupboard. Now I can't wait to play with the full palette when I get home. 

We had plans to do another pizza party at the neighboring vineyard today, but it's pouring rain here in Spain (we must be mainly in the plane) so I imagine that'll be called off.  I'm happy to just have another studio day. I'm working on a few new watercolours while my prints dry. One is a little sketch I did of the vineyards from our courtyard yesterday. I like that they're not in full summer glory yet.  The vine stumps look like gnarled hands. They are very Van Gogh to me ( the vines themselves, not my sketch of them).  The other is the metropolis building I sketched in Madrid, and there's one more I'm planning to do that relates to the dairy farm up the road. We've been going up there by bike to visit the babies (so cute) and to buy our dairy products. The farmer packed us unto his delivery truck the other day and took us back to his little production facility to show us how he makes everything.  He speaks so fast I think I catch about 20% of what he says, but the dairy products are the best ever, and it's fun to see how passionate he is about what he's doing, and how respectfully he treats his animals. He showed us how they're milked, where the cows line themselves up and walk into the milking booth of their own volition, and little lasers (no, Austin Powers fans, not 'frickin' lasers) find their teats and vacuum suck them into the milking tubes to relieve them. I was surprised at how great the milk is fresh from the cow. I thought it'd be a bit weird, or 'farmy', but no, it's just delicious. 

Life here on the vineyard really is beautiful. We work as a team on everything, make all our food fresh every day, make our bread, our mayonnaise. We're all working on our own projects, but bouncing ideas off each other and gathering up for big family style dinners every night.  Last night we turned one of the studios into a mini movie theatre again. We dragged the sofas in there and filled a wall with the projector.  We've  watched some strange and wonderful movies here; this one about an American architect who builds houses off the grid, basically with pop bottles and beer cans. Earth ships he calls them. Pretty interesting stuff.  

I have 10 more days here. One of them will be spent in Barcelona teaching a one-day course on lino printmaking, but the rest I plan to savor, working in my studio and enjoying the company of my new friends. And as each day passes, my yearning for that first Vancouver sushi feast surrounded by my menfolk at home will grow stronger, until I'm just as excited to arrive there as I was to arrive here. Happy girl!

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