Tag Archives: Spain

Art and the Poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca


Federico Garcia Lorca is one of Spain’s best known poets and now a popular icon.  Born in 1898, he lived the first ten years of his life in Fuente Vaqueros, which is close to Granada in Southern Spain.  He moved to Madrid when he was in his early twenties and  joined a group of avant-garde artists that included Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel.  The group, collectively known as the “Generation of  1927,” introduced Lorca to Surrealism, a movement that would greatly influence his writing and poetry.

Lorca was an active socialist and his controversial political views as well as his generally bohemian attitudes would ultimately cost him his life and during the Spanish Civil War,  Lorca was captured by Franco’s Nationalist Army and executed.   His works, and even his existence, remained a taboo subject in Spain for nearly four decades after his death. However as a result, Lorca has become not only famous for his exemplary poetry, but for his martyrdom at the hands of a fascist dictatorship. His works were suppressed in Spain for many years but have had a monumental influence on the poets and authors of Latin America and the world over and he is often credited with being the first author to introduce Surrealism into literature. His work has a lasting impact on Spanish poetry and Lorca has influenced many of my abstract paintings with his interesting use of words, often written in a surrealist or abstract voice.  Here are two of my abstract paintings complete with Lorca’s words.

IMG_4265

Echo

The flower of dawn has already opened

(Do you recall the depths of evening?)

The spikenard moon pours down its cold scent.

(Do you remember the gaze of August?)

 

The Cheating MirrorThe Cheating Mirror

Green branch barren of rhythm and bird.

Echo of a sob with no pain or lips.

Man and Woods.

I shed tears beside the salt sea.

In my pupils are two seas singing.

 

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My Abstract Painting Meets ILU Fitwear Equals Amazing Yoga Clothing Range !


 

Spring Equinox Spiritual Exploration

I am so proud to have the above painting used for the design on a yoga and fitness clothing range.  The painting was from an abstract collection of work called ‘Spiritual Exploration’ and was originally painted in watercolour on paper.  I had no idea how this would work on a clothing range, but now the range is complete and I am thrilled with the way it looks on this collection.

The collaboration between myself and ILU Fitwear has been an exciting journey to see how artwork can be used in this way and because of the nature of the printing process, each item is different and unique.  It’s like wearing an original piece of art as no two pieces are the same.

Here are some lovely photos of the range, modelled by my daughter Chloe of My Happy Body and photographed by Emma Jacobs Photography. The range can be purchased from either myself directly from Cortijo Las Salinas but if you can’t make it to the cortijo this year then Chloe has some in stock or you can go direct to the ILU Fitwear website.

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How to be an artist ? or What does an artist do all day ?


I have spent some time this week with some lovely art students and the question they needed an answer to was ‘How can I become an artist’ and ‘what do artists do all day!’

Well the following is the best way I can answer this question.  I have this list pinned up in my studio and refer to it whenever I forget myself!

How to be an Artist

      Stay loose               
     Learn to watch snails
     Plant impossible gardens
     Invite someone dangerous to tea
     Make little signs that say ‘yes’ and post them all over your house
     Make lists, lists and more lists
     Make friends with freedom and uncertainty
     Don’t be scared to be you
     Look forward to your dreams
     Cry during movies
     Swing as high as you can on a swing
     Cultivate moods
     Do everything ‘for love’ and ‘with love’
     Take lots of naps – for thinking and dreaming
     Give money away. Do it NOW. The money will follow
     Believe in magic and imagine you are magic
     Laugh a lot and giggle with children
     Celebrate every gorgeous moment
     Take moonbaths
     Read and draw (or doodle) every day
     Listen to old people
     Open up. Dive in. Be free.
     Bless yourself as you are blessed
     Drive away fear
     Entertain your inner child
     Get wet
     Hug trees
     Write love letters
     Talk to yourself
     SING everyday (especially by yourself)
     Believe the impossible is possible
     Care about everything you do
     Take long walks in the rain


Painting Holidays at Cortijo Las Salinas


If you have ever wanted to pick up a paint brush for the first time or would like to improve your existing talents, I shall be holding two Art and Painting holidays at Cortijo Las Salinas in Spain this year.

Immerse yourself in the landscape, sketch in the studio or break out and have a totally abstract moment !  The choice is yours – click here to find out more ……

Steffi in the Studio
Steffi in the Studio

How to be an Artist !


  • Stay loose                         
  • Learn to watch snails
  • Plant impossible gardens
  • Invite someone dangerous to tea
  • Make little signs that say ‘yes’ and post them all over your house
  • Make lists, lists and more lists
  • Make friends with freedom and uncertainty
  • Don’t be scared to be you
  • Look forward to your dreams
  • Cry during movies
  • Swing as high as you can on a swing (by moonlight even)
  • Cultivate moods
  • Do it ‘for love’ and do everything ‘with love’
  • Take lots of naps – for thinking and dreaming
  • Give money away. Do it NOW. The money will follow
  • Believe in magic and imagine you are magic
  • Laugh a lot and giggle with children
  • Celebrate every gorgeous moment
  • Take moonbaths
  • Read and draw (or doodle) every day
  • Listen to old people
  • Open up. Dive in. Be free.
  • Bless yourself as you are blessed
  • Drive away fear
  • Entertain your inner child
  • Get wet – especially in the rain
  • Hug trees
  • Write love letters
  • Talk to yourself
  • SING (especially by yourself)
  • Believe the impossible is possible
  • Care about everything you do
In my studio
In my studio

Our invisible residents ……


Two years ago, Jodie lost her sunglasses.  It was a complete mystery as she had been wearing her new Ray Bans with pride and they suited her very well, so the day they went missing we spent a long time trying to find them.

There are many hiding places at Cortijo Las Salinas, the cortijo is full of nooks and crannies, so we did the traditional procedure of ‘tracing your steps’ and ‘where did you last remember wearing them?’  to no avail.  Needless to say she was very upset and went back to the UK without them.

Things often go missing here and, of course, we always blame each other for moving things or putting things away unnecessarily, however it is not usually that simple, for neither of us are actually that tidy so sub consciously I always blame our invisible residents.  It is at times like this that I am reminded of the early legend that Fina relayed to me about the cold night back in 1875 when the clay pot in which her great grandmother was making the soup for the family was not on the table where she had left it when she returned from answering an urgent knock at the door, when no one was there, only mist.

Anyway, a few weeks ago we had a group of French people spending a holiday in the cortijo and the day before they were due to leave Magali came to us with a pair of sunglasses she had found.  She had been exploring in the olive groves which are up behind the house and she discovered a black glasses case complete with sunglasses and receipt.  We immediately recognised them as Jodie’s glasses however something was not quite right about the scenario.  To find anything in the olive groves is a near miracle as the farmers weed, water, prune, havest, continually throughout the year, but to find something in tact, completely perfect and totally clean was quite a mystery.  These glasses had survived a whole season in the olive groves, through all weathers and farming without a single mark or scratch on them.  The case alone should have been filthy with dust and soil, but no, nothing, not a mark anywhere, they appeared to be just as they were when purchased in the shop.

So, another strange and unexplainable happening at Cortijo Las Salinas, invisible residents?  Your guess is as good as mine !

The Olive Groves behind Cortijo Las Salinas
The Olive Groves behind Cortijo Las Salinas

Where Does an Artist Find Inspiration ?


Waterfall at Rio San Juan
Waterfall at Rio San Juan

Having been a painter all my life, the most difficult thing about creating a painting is finding the inspiration to make an original and inspired work of art.  After all without inspiration an artist has nothing.

So as I walk with trepidation the relatively long distance from my kitchen where I make the brown nectar called coffee, to my studio where I am meant to make inspired works of art, a sickness enters my stomach.  I know today is fortunately, a relatively rare day, where I feel uninspired and uncreative and wonder how any spontaneous arm movements might take place.

My studio, custom made to my very own design, with large high ceilings, big bright windows, overlooking the vast olive groves of Andalucia, has everything an artist needs to be inspired, or so you would think!  Ha! Not today though and I open the door slowly, balancing my Iphone on top of my coffee cup and walk in.  The smell of the oil paint mixed with the glazes and all the other products I have, hits my nose and I feel slightly comforted.  I look around at all the many previously completed, ‘inspired’ paintings hanging from their wires and see some of the chaos left from yesterday’s attempt at creating a work of art.  Had I lost it forever? I wondered, and sat down pensively drinking my coffee.

You see, inspiration doesn’t generally pop into one’s head, or at least not in my case, sometimes an active approach is required.  I look towards the sea of olive trees and today I find even these annoying, so I finish my coffee and wonder for how much longer I can procrastinate.  Perhaps the walk back to the kitchen for more coffee will help, and while I am there I can put some washing into the machine, feed Picasso (my cat), and check my emails.  Yes, that’s what I shall do.

I return, with more coffee, but no more inspiration.  I blame it on the planets, the time of the month, too much wine last night, anything except the truth.  I can’t paint anymore!  I finish my coffee and decide to go out for a walk.

As I meander down the old Roman track which leads from my cortijo, I can feel the cool breeze upon my arms and immediately wish I had brought a jacket, I also curse under my breath as my shoes are totally inadequate for the bumpy old track and dust and stones creep between my toes.  I find my mind wandering about nonsense just as a hoopoe flies right in front of me and stops me in my tracks and I watch him fly by, an incredible bird, distinctive with its stripes and a characteristic undulating way of flying which is something like a giant butterfly.  I stood stock still as he fluttered past at quite a speed and smiled at how beautiful he was noticing how blessed I always feel when I see a hoopoe.  I continued down the windy path way and noticed little fruits appearing on the plum trees which line my track, knowing I would be able to pick them soon.  I made a left turn just before the Roman bridge and headed down towards the river.   The San Juan Rio is an amazing river and runs from a small local town called Castillo de Locubin continuing for miles, we are very fortunate that it virtually runs past our cortijo and I now consider it mine.  I love spending time alone here by the water, watching it at different times of the year as it does different things, making different patterns in the flow, sometimes watching the fish jump out of the water, seeing little turtles swimming close to the bank, the black dragonflies flutter by and the different sounds of nature that can be heard.  Today, though, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  The water was higher than normal, the current flowing dangerously fast over the top of the small flat bridge, making it impossible to cross, the water splashing furiously about making white whirlpools and swirls as it thrashed around, fish jumping all over the place trying to swim upstream, the noise was deafening and I remembered we’d had a thunder storm a few days earlier which must have affected the flow of the river.  I sat down on a large stone and realised in my dour mood as I left the studio I had no sketchbook or drawing implements with me.   Still it didn’t matter; my mood lifting I virtually ran back to my studio and began to paint what I had just experienced.

Inspiration – what’s that ?

After the Storm at San Juan Rio
After the Storm at San Juan Rio

Article written for the Spanish County Life magazine