I once had a pure white long-haired kitty with pea green eyes and a pink nose named Sally. She was also completely deaf, and completely fearless; without distraction, she lived in her own little world, full of sleep and joy and play. She was the inspiration for many sketches, paintings and photos, and for this little piece as well; click the image to see a gallery of other black and white photos of Sally.
Almost everywhere I’ve lived there has been a quince bush, an old-fashioned favorite for its early bright pink flowers—so early, in fact, that the bush in my neighbor’s yard in the years when Sally was young bloomed every year during the January thaw, and then snow would fall on the bright pink blooms, nestling in the curve of the branches like Sally when she’d found a good cozy spot.
Below is the actual reference photo I used for this block print. Can you see the white kitten shape in the snow? Scroll down to the detail of the block print below.
Sure, I took some artistic license with the snow, but that’s what art is all about—and the shape you see below is what I actually saw when I got the photos back and flipped through them (remember those days?), and though it was years before I created this little print the idea stayed with me all that time.
I had actually also used the image for a few other projects as I explored my own talents and my abilities to turn what I’d visualized into an finished piece of artwork. It’s always interesting to find several interpretations in one image!
The style of this design was inspired after studying and practicing many illustration traditions, from Asian-inspired block prints and brush paintings to metal and wood etchings and block prints used for books and periodicals. My reference photo (which I kept) shows the branch with the flowers against a brilliant blue sky, and a soft little pile of snow in the angle which became the sleeping kitten.
Also inspired by the idea of a book illustration, it’s just a little thing, image is 5″ x 3.5″, and manuscripts were often illustrated with wood block prints. It’s difficult for me to carve wood, so I’ve gone for artist’s linoleum, much easier on my hands.
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.
I began only printing this on white rice paper in black or hand-tinted as you see here, and sold them framed and unframed. I love colored rice paper as well as handmade and unusual papers, though, and every year I create a few on new and different papers.
Of necessity, they can only have a small amount of texture and small or muted patterns so that they don’t compete with the print. I have a limited amount of space to hang prints to dry, so I’ve only used two of the papers, and am preparing for more!
My wood-mounted and keepsake art was quite popular and fun to make, so I also made up a few 4″ x 6″ wood-mounted prints and have a few 5″ x 7″ blocks as well as small keepsake boxes on hand for the next part of the experiment.
I also offer this image as a wood-mounted piece and on various textiles, such as t-shirts, curtains, tablecloths, shawls and tote bags. You can click any image in this post to find the item for sale in my Etsy shop, or to find everything that’s available featuring this little piece of artwork, search my Etsy shop for: “SPRING KITTEN”, which will bring up all the items currently available.
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 had actually also used the image for a few other projects as I explored my own talents and my abilities to turn what I’d visualized into an finished piece of artwork. It’s always interesting to find several interpretations in one image, and I created this one before I felt really confident in my drawing skills and was experimenting with ripped-paper collage, popular in the late 80s, using a piece of matboard, construction paper and tempera paints…it’s a bit worse for the wear of 25 years, with a few pieces missing.
- “Petals on a Wet Black Bough: After Ezra Pound”
And of course I can’t photograph any artwork without my composition and lighting director cruising through…and it’s an interesting thought to connect my feline households of long ago with today’s in this way.
- Mimi adjusts the lighting by walking through.
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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.