Cat 125: H.P. Lovecraft cat quote, block print #1

So I have been thinking about creating a set of three 8×10 block prints based on cat quotes that have a little cat illustration somehow arranged with them. And for a few months I’ve been collecting cat quotes and ordering supplies from Dick Blick and generally pondering what I wanted to do.

I chose to start with an H.P. Lovecraft quote. In high school I was a big HP fan, but my interests changed in college and I haven’t read any of his stories since probably 1990. But recently I have started re-reading his works, inspired by the idea of using a piece of his story “In The Walls of Eryx” in a voice demo. It’s the story of a man getting lost in an invisible maze that still freaks me out and if a story can disturb me for 25 years, that’s powerful for me.  So, once again, I’m descending back down into HP’s dark tunnels, seething with beings “too disturbing to describe” (I did get REALLY tired of him saying that in his early stories, buuut he WAS a pioneer of the modern horror story, so I have started to cut him some slack. I’m growing up!… sorta :) )  The quote for this print is from the story “From Beyond,” published in 1920. It’s about a technology that allows people to see all of the usually invisible monstrosities occupying what seem to be empty air and how that technology changes a friendship. I had to decide whether to illustrate the quote literally for the story, which would have involved a cat looking at a bunch of jellyfish-like creatures (which wouldn’t make sense to most people) versus a general illustration for the quote. Since I’m not aiming to please Lovecraft geeks with this one (sorry peeps), I chose to put a cat in a creepy tree looking out into the dark. Okay, mostly I wanted to make a creepy tree.

I started looking at google images and our own trees for inspiration. This is the photo of our tree I used (I liked it because the branches and twigs come out at odd angles often):

And sketched the first, too smooth, octopus-like tree:

And then the second, more angular version I went with:

And then I played around with some fonts, elected a classic style font with serifs and laid it out:

Cut and glued the illustration and the quote together, then photocopied it It’s sitting on the linoleum which I deliberately ordered larger than I needed and cut it down to the size I wanted:

Then I followed the directions on this great blog post at ArtLikeArt to transfer the photocopy to the block with lacquer thinner, lots of ventilation and rubber gloves. And carving begins!

Detail of carved creepy tree:

My first print run, drying on my desk:

Aaaaaaand Chaos Superkitty jumped right onto them, see cute incriminating paw prints:

Redesigned drying setup (with innocent looking cute criminal cat in foreground):

And I realize that while I did a good job centering my prints using register marks and inked them well, I did not actually finish the cat’s tail. Poop. (And yes, she had an accident during the carving phase that resulted in a small left ear):

My attempt at fixing the tail (kinda wish I had just outlined the end in white rather than making it solid white, oh well, it is what it is at this point) and “turning” her head a little to make the small ear look a little less ridiculous:

And the whole print:

Finally in its mat and frame:

Yay, it feels really awesome to have completed a project after so long. It’s sitting in the entrance hallway of our house, greeting guests… just above the Halloween pumpkins. He he.

In other news, I have started taking an acting class which is crazy fun and really challenging. I’m practicing 2 scenes. In one I am Ruth in “Fried Green Tomatoes” and in the other I am Curley’s Wife in “Of Mice and Men” – yes, the scene where Lennie kills her.  Good times!

  • 8×10
  • Blick Battleship Gray Linoleum, unmounted
  • Speedball Lino Cutters
  • Caligo Safe Wash Relief Ink in Black
  • Bleached Mulberry Paper (“Block Printing Pack” from Black Ink Creative International Papers)

Go hug a kitty!!!!!

6 comments
  1. Joyart said:

    Wow! Happy to see what you have been working on! Once again, the amount of work involved is mind boggling and the end result is both scary and beautiful. How is that?? Love it…

  2. John Romeo said:

    Really beautiful work. Keep at it you have a real talent for it. So creative.

  3. Mary said:

    I loved this whole post! You have inspired me to get busy and create something again. And to checkout H. P. Lovecraft and a new blog. I draw the line at acting classes thou, so I’m not a complete stalker LOL. I HAVE thought about taking guitar lessons…

  4. I love your print! The image is gorgeous! And… my cats are always in my business, too. One jumped right up onto my rolled out (oil-based) ink and then tracked red paw prints all over the place before I could catch her. (sigh)

  5. Pickles said:

    This is really cool! Love how you had an idea, visualized it, worked your way through the steps and brought it to fruition. That’s a wonderful feeling. :) I love cats, too, and like the way you made the tip of the tail white. Great Job!
    from Pickles

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