Featured Artwork: Kelly’s Morning Bath Block Print

mounted block print
Canvas-mounted pint of “Kelly’s Morning Bath II”

The Kelly’s Morning Bath duo was the first feline pictorial block print I designed all the way back in 1998, even before The Tortie Girls duo of block prints. I was literally inspired by Kelly’s daily morning bath in front of the big casement window, sketched it up and cut the block—twice, because I wasn’t sure I liked the first version. As it turns out I like both equally well, and since I’ve been printing them on gift bags and tote bags and other things, I’ve come to use version 1 as a framed and matted print because it has just the essential image, and version 2 as an imprint because it has the decorative border.

cat in front of window
Kelly at the Window, Morning.

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 this process, each print is slightly different and therefore unique. Kelly was indeed on my work table to supervise the printing of this block print inspired by her daily morning bath in front of our favorite window.

A morning like this reminds me of the original inspiration for this print. The photo above is from 2011, but I really loved watching Kelly bathe enthusiastically every morning in front of this window where the morning sun shines through the leaves at a wonderful angle, silhouetting her and the window itself, visualizing a finished work as a block print to capture the stark dark and light and using various colored and patterned papers to capture the leafy shadows.

I did several sketches and had the idea I’d like to do a multi-frame image to capture her action as a process rather than a just one view; anyone who’s ever watched a cat bathe knows that just one view doesn’t capture the whole sense of the cat bath. I knew I wanted that lovely graceful curve and the silhouette of her looking at me in one frame, and I had to have a “leg in the air” frame of Kelly washing between her toes, and Kelly also has a sweet habit of pausing in the middle of a face wash as if she’s hit a point of meditation—this is the first frame.

Once I decided on the three frames I wanted to use I placed them in various orders, but there was only one sequence that I liked best. Here is my first design for Kelly’s Morning Bath.

block print on green background
Kelly’s Morning Bath 1 on green leafy paper

That looked a little stark, though it was what I’d been visualizing. Then I cut one with a more decorative border, added more of the window and eliminated the shading across the middle keeping it stark black and white, and I liked that design too! They officially became Kelly’s Morning Bath 1 and 2.

block print of cat in front of window
Kelly’s Morning Bath 2, peachy speckle paper

I print them both, and I’ll often print just one panel at a time on items such as gift bags or other small things.

Printing these two designs on unique papers was part of the design plan, and when I began finding handmade rice papers with leaves and flowers embedded I knew I’d found the best choices. This package of handmade, fair trade, eco-sensitive paper (could it be any better?) provided a dozen varieties of prints with a white and a cream background, and shades of green, rose and rust for spring, summer and fall.

I am currently framing these as well as mounting them on the stretched canvases beginning with these two color variations.

I’ve long offered these as framed prints, and last year began experimenting with wood-mounting artwork since I found a ready source for the wood blocks to be used. After the first group was done I began looking at other art and images the block prints are idea as I’d mounted prints of The Tortie Girls on wooden trays and blocks, but the shape and size of Kelly’s Morning Bath isn’t readily available in wood blocks. However, I knew there was another resource and found it in stretched canvases in the perfect size as if they were made for this! They are actually deep enough to be able to stand up on a tabletop, as shown below.


Kelly’s Morning Bath I Matted and Framed

matted and framed block print of cat
“Kelly’s Morning Bath 1” matted and framed, pink tones.

This is the plainer of the two prints and my original idea. I usually use this version rather than the more decorative one because the decorative border is a bit much in a mat and frame, but I always use various colors of black or color core mat and always a matte black frame to coordinate with the ink.

matted framed block print of cat
“Kelly’s Morning Bath I” framed block print, green tones.

The image size is 3″ x 10″, the frame size is 7″ x 14″. The mats are as shown, 1-1/2″, with a matte-finish black composite wood frame. You can find these two variations in my Etsy shop.


Kelly’s Morning Bath II Mounted on Canvas

canvas-mounted block print of cat
“Kelly’s Morning Bath I” block print in green tones.
detail of mounted cat print
Detail of depth and mounting.

This is the more decorative of the two prints so I’ve used it for the canvas mounting. The canvas blocks are 4″ x 12″ on the face and a little over 1″ deep. I wrap the front and sides of the canvas with the same paper as the print and glue it to the surface, then I trim the print to fit the face of the canvas and glue that on top of the paper. Both the paper and the prints have a few extra wrinkles after the adhesive swells and dries but it gives it that wonderful papery look and feel. Finally, I cover the entire surface with a coat of matte-finish Modge Podge so that the surface can be dusted or wiped with a mild cleaner.

mounted block print of cat
“Kelly’s Morning Bath II” mounted on canvas, pink tones.

I don’t add a hanger to these because the back of the canvas is deep enough to safely hold onto whatever hanger you use on your wall. I do add bumper pads in the lower corners, though, to help the piece hang straight. You can find both of these in my Etsy shop.


You can find these and more in my Etsy shop, as well as more views of each piece, as I work my way through all the variations on prints of these wonderful papers.


black cat in front of print
Mimi was unhappy at all the attention the block was getting.

And I was all set up to photograph all these pieces atop the wardrobe at the top of the stairs for the excellent light but as you can see Mimi put an end to that, a little piqued that she was not getting the attention she felt she deserved at that moment.

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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