Monday, August 13, 2018

This Is Going to be a Busy Week

I awoke this morning to the sound of heavy rain hitting the pavement.  Matched up with the weather predictions, so I didn't give it a second thought and went back to sleep.   Eventually the alarm woke me again and I decided to get up.  Heavy rain still coming through in great waves.  Had no where to go right away, so I dealt with other things early on.  More tv weather reports showed a massive rain storm over central Jersey, expected to be past by around noon.  That seemed to be good news, as today was my scheduled day teaching linocut in Brick.

When I did my reconnaissance run last week it took about 30 minutes and I knew exactly how to find the location, the Brick branch of the Ocean County Library.  However the news had reported some extreme flooding through my region, which happens to this part of the state when rain falls like it did this morning.  (parts of Brick had reported 4.5 inches of rain from this morning's storm)  On the positive side, the main storm would have passed my area a good 3 hours before I had to leave- more then enough time to drain the roads...maybe.

I knew where to go, but a lot of other things seemed up in the air.  Several weeks ago the person who organized this told me she had 10 people signed up, but last week she mentioned only 4.  (pay is the same either way, and I had enough supplies for either size class) The best way to get there remained to be seen, but at least the early end to the rain allowed be to load my car under dry conditions.  Didn't need to bring as much as I do for a typical woodcut class, but I still had my large supply of paper, and my large tote bag full of tools, inks, etc.  My backpack held all the books- examples of relief prints.

I left at the expected time and went down route 71, which I planned to take to Brielle, and a long local road from there to U.S. 70, a major shore road that would bring me close to my destination.  Unfortunately, as I approached Main St in Manasquan, I could see that 71 was blocked off just up ahead, probably where the creek passes underneath.  So I made the quick right onto Main, which was moving extremely slow.  My alternate choice was to take South St to 70, but I discovered the reason for the slowdown was that local police had blocked it off as well and were not going to let me take that road either.  Luckily I had family in Manasquan all my life and had lived there a while, so I know a lot of roads through town.  Looped around on side streets, got back to South St, and it turned out that those were the only detours I had to deal with today.  Got to the Brick library maybe 10 minutes later than I had expected, easily on time.  Eventually I was shown the room reserved for today (carried everything in from my car in the one trip) A few minutes later my new contact stopped by (the organizer is on vacation right now, but she had e-mailed me his name) and he also wasn't sure about the size of the class.  Thought he had seen something about 6 students.  At my request he brought me something to protect the tables, as I know ink can be messy.

It was a big room, with two full size tables set up, more than enough for 4 or 6, and if we had 10 there  were a bunch more tables and chairs for the room.  At the official start time I had no one, but a few minutes later two girls walked in the room.  One had really liked a linocut project done in school and the other had some experience but hadn't realized it.  Neither had a specific plan for a print, so while we waited for more people to show up, I gave them some books to look at.  But no one else came, and no one knew who was even signed up (the two girls said they had just signed up online a few days ago, so not part of the 4 or 10 numbers I had been given before), and at a certain point, I decided it was time to get them started.  Some basic safety rules, a few suggestions, but they knew a little about the tools, so they could jump right in.

As with the recent Belmar linocut class, they had no specific ideas, but turned to the internet for inspiration.   Gave each a non-skid mat, a handle, and some basic suggestions for best performance of the task.  Watched them work, offered suggestions, etc.  Both were excited to make something and made good progress.  I was never given an official end time, but in one of the e-mails I had received it was referred to as a "1 to 3 hour class", so I told them they could have 3 hours.  At 2.5 hours in both were getting close, so I brought out the paper and ink to show them the possibilities.   They chose to go with basic black ink, but were excited by the paper possibilities.  In each case, we pulled a practice proof on white Rives lightweight, then each chose two colored papers to try.

In the above example, the speckled yellow paper provides a nice contrast to the dark image, which seems to be a skull in a floral setting, while the dark red paper with its colored fibers results in a more mysterious feel.  In the below example, the light blue gives that high contrast (which allows the details of the tree to really stand out) while the marbleized version combines richer colors and makes the cat seem more mysterious.

At the three hour mark both were printed, and probably a bit tired from the effort of finishing, but pleased with the results, more than worth the sore hands. What surprised them the most was the printing process; their art teacher in school had printed by rolling a dry brayer over the paper to apply pressure, but I leaned long ago that a wooden spoon is more effective and gets a more consistent result, and now they know it, too.

I got home just before dark (evening news raised Brick's rain total to 8 inches, and my mother informed me that Brick had declared a state of emergency, but things seemed normal enough at the library), and left most of the materials out in my car.  Because tomorrow the whole process happens again with my woodcut class in Belmar.  And more rain may come.  Wouldn't expect anything else.


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