Willapa Bay AiR - week one

I suspect the Willapa Bay Artist in Residence program will soon be a highly sought after residency opportunity for artists of all kinds.  I happen to be one of the fortuitous-five who were asked to beta-test this program by attending for one month and then providing feedback to the founder and director.  Here I sit in spectacularly beautiful corner of Washington state (a pristine bay on one side and the mighty Pacific Ocean to the other) with four other artists, (two writers, one musician and another visual artist), in my own little cabin,  a private studio just steps away,  a fully stocked kitchen with two meals a day prepared for me and treasure of treasures, an entire month to work.  How did I ever get this lucky?!?
My goal for this month is to reacquaint myself with the printmaking technique I learned in Japan, several years ago, called moku hanga.  Simply translated moku hanga means, wood print.  This technique differs from western woodblock printmaking in that water based pigments are used instead of oil based inks, and the blocks are printed by hand and not with a printing press.  It is a very wet process; the wood block must be wet, as must the paper, and this area, with water all around, has the perfect climate. 
To begin my re-acquaintance with this beautiful but challenging technique, I brought along the blocks I carved in Japan, to re-print, along with all my notes which made perfect sense four years ago but have become cryptic and completely inadequate since then.   After four days of struggle, head scratching, starting over, and a few ah-ha moments I was able to finish my practice round.  It took a while but I managed to remember a lot of what I had forgotten.
Moku hanga practice session, day one. Definitely a learning day.

Moku hanga practice session day two. In progress prints are resting in their damp book comprised of damp blotters and newspaper sandwiched between plastic.  I learned the hard way that there is damp and then there is TOO damp.

 Moku hanga practice, complete.  The good, the bad and the ugly.

My initial idea was to reprint the entire triptych, but I think that will wait for another day.  I am anxious to do some new work inspired by this lush area. My next challenge is attempting some detailed registration.

It hasn't been all work this past week.  On Saturday we donned our rubber boots and went on a clam dig. We roamed the tide flats of Willapa Bay and collected a bucket of little clams that were to be prepared for our dinner on Sunday evening.  Unfortunately, novice clam diggers that we all are, most of our bounty had to be returned to the sea for they weren't worth eating.  Still we had a wonderful morning, and last night, a delicious meal of linguine with clam sauce.  Yum. Wish I'd taken a picture of that but I was too busy slurping it down.

 Willapa Bay at low tide.
Clam diggers extraordinaire.

 Our wholly inadequate haul.

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