“Awakening” Block Print in Autumn Colors

linoldum block print of two cats
“Awakening”, hand-colored linoleum block print © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Quote reads: “‘Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.’–Anatole France. Dedicated to my prince and princess and all those since who’ve awakened their part of my soul.”

“Awakening” is a linoleum block print, 16″ in diameter, printed in soy-based ink on handmade white rice paper. This print is hand-colored with watercolors in “autumn brights”.

I offer the print “Awakening” printed in black on white rice paper, but designed it for a versatility of presentation. The two cats in question were indeed one black and one white, and the yin and yang form they mimic is typically black and white also, but I enjoy the use of pattern as a design element and decided to incorporate several rounds of detail when I designed this. That way, I’d have the versatility of leaving it in black and white or adding color.

detail of text and border
Detail of the text and border.

Each one is as unique as the print itself because I use different media, styles and color combinations. In this case I used watercolor. Other times I’ve used colored pencil, gouache, marker, even pastel rubbed into the surface of the paper.

I’ll often use a variety of bright colors, but I’ve also colored them in all earthy tones—brown, tan, red earth, sand—as well as shades of green from the summer woods, light pastels, bright primaries, jewel tones and monochromatic themes, blue or purple, and it looks striking with touches red. To be honest, I was intending to do the earth tones this time, mixed my colors, and this is what I produced—I guess I’m feeling like autumn colors right now!

ABOUT THE CATS

black and white cats sleeping
Kublai and Sally often slept like this; the reference photo for “Awakening”.

“Awakening” was inspired by my close companions Kublai and Sally who ran the household together for about 12 years and who actually slept curled like this.

If you’ve been reading The Creative Cat for a while you’ve seen me take photos and artwork to create new things—greeting cards, keepsake boxes, garden flags and the like. The photo at left was the reference photo for “Awakening”, a scene I saw frequently as Kublai and Sally entered their teens and curled together in front of the heater vent or sometimes just on the bed.

I enjoyed following the inspiration to combine the image of the two cats with the decorative border simply made of shapes and patterns that were both attractive and easy to cut in a block print.

detail of print
Detail of Kublai’s face.

I had seen the quote in a number of different places, and of all the quotes about how animals fill our souls this one, the concept of awakening, I found most moving. These two cats, especially Kublai, the “original” black cat, were a major part of my awakening not only to animals but to love in general.

Aside from the fact that they were both loving, friendly and social, they were complete opposites in the way they expressed this love and were as different in temperament as they were in color and texture as the loose reference to yin and yang illustrates.

In their own ways they nurtured about 30 foster cats of widely differing ages and social abilities, just as they nurtured me in the years they shared my life.

“Kublai” is somehow derived from the word for “prince” in Sanskrit, and “Sally” is derived from the word for “princess”—Sarah—in Hebrew.

detail of print
Detail of Sally’s face

AN ALTERNATE PRINT

block print with two cats
“Awakening”, linoleum block print on foil flecked rice paper © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I do usually print six of each block when I print—it’s time-consuming and messy, and it just works better. I print on as many different papers as I can as well. In this case I had a few sheets of my favorite speckled rice paper—speckled with gold and silver foil flecks. I don’t color these prints but let the gold and silver shine throughout the paper. Below is a detail of the paper and ink.

detail of print
Detail of foil-flecked paper.

ABOUT BLOCK PRINTING

Block printing is a technique wherein the artist carves the surface of a piece of linoleum, leaving raised areas which will become the image. Ink is rolled onto these raised areas, then a piece of paper is pressed against the block and when it’s lifted away the ink remains, leaving the image on the paper.

Because of the nature of the medium, each print is unique and ink coverage is not always perfect. Most artists consider this random activity to be part of the process of creating an individualized print, and along with the hand-painting makes a unique work of art. ”

I usually print a series of six prints on paper, preparing my papers ahead of time, then offering them matted and framed, matted only, print only, hand-tinted and sometimes incorporated into another type of work. I also print this image on textiles, such as t-shirts, curtains, tablecloths, shawls and tote bags!

And I’m darned glad to have found a new ink to print both papers and textiles. The traditional water-based ink is highly subject to moisture and even a damp hand with make it start to dissolve after it’s dried, so of course I had to find other ink to print both washable textiles and prints that are meant to be hand-colored. Unfortunately, that ink was petroleum-based oil ink and smelled like motor oil even after it was dry and had to be cleaned up with turpentine or mineral spirits. It was, however, completely permanent. I’ve experimented with other inks for the past three years and been consistently disappointed as they were usually too thin to adhere to the block and transfer to the printing surface. Speedball Fabric Ink is relatively new and comes in all the colors the other inks do, and it prints perfectly! So I am back in business with these hand-colored prints and I can assure you you’ll see a series of these between now and the holidays, each one in a different color scheme.

mat and frame for print
Mat and frame for print.

ABOUT THE MATTING AND FRAMING

I use a variety of mats as well, and with these two I will likely use a rich red with the colored print and a black with the bottom print. All mats are acid-free, and I cut the circular mat myself in my studio; the narrowest portion of the mat is 1.5″. The frame may be a 1″ wide plain black matte-finish wood or a matte black with a decorative face that mimics some of the figures in the patten I carved into the print. The final framed size is 21″ x 21″.

PRINTS AVAILABLE

Hand-colored print with red mat and black frame.

Black and white print on foil-speckled rice paper with red mat and black frame.

Black and white print on plain white rice paper with red mat and black frame.


black cat with prints
Giuseppe walks among the drying prints in my studio.

Take a look at other new merchandise and featured artwork.

Once a week on Thursday I feature something new in my “shop”, whether that’s here on The Creative Cat, in my Etsy shop, on my main website or even at one of the bricks and mortar shops that carry my work.

Read about creating custom items

Find out more about creating custom items for your own home using the images you see here. Visit the “Ordering Custom Art” page to see samples and read bout how to order.

 It’s all done under the close and careful supervision of my studio cats!


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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


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Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, The Creative Cat offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats. From catchy and creative headlines to factual articles and fictional stories, The Creative Cat provides constant entertainment and important information to people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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