CURIOSITY, EXPERIMENTATION, & DIVERGENCE

A black and white linocut illustration of the silhouette of a black cat, seen from the back and looking to his left.
“Bodega Cat”, by Elizabeth Meggs, 2' x 3", relief print on paper, 2021 (IMAGE COPYRIGHT © ELIZABETH MEGGS)

Today, I felt like experimenting with a small relief print, inspired by a black cat I saw a few weeks ago. He had his back to me, and was looking to his left. He was standing in front of the bodega where I believe he lives in Brooklyn, New York. Small, cute, and fast, his beautiful form and alert, curious intelligence stuck with me, so I wanted to remember him with a small and fast relief print.

This print is 2” x 3” inches, and I pulled an edition of 20. It’s rough, unrefined, and decidedly not slick (some might say amateur, which is fine). I haven’t done a relief print in years, as my practice has been primarily focused on non-representational full color oil painting, so it was a challenge to acclimate to the ink, carving tools, and substrates, etc. I’m happy with two of the prints, but the others have validity as part of the process and experimentation.

20 print variations of a black and white linocut illustrations of the silhouette of a black cat, seen from the back and looking to his left.
EDITION OF 20: “Bodega Cat”, by Elizabeth Meggs, 2' x 3", relief print on paper, 2021 (IMAGES COPYRIGHT © ELIZABETH MEGGS)

I love and am inspired by chunky and rugged woodcuts in early American printed books, plus Will Bradley’s early 20th century work on “American Chap-Book” for American Type Founders Company. The sequentiality of pulling multiple prints reminds me of the sequential or modular work by two of my favorite creative experimenters: Eadweard Muybridge and Sol Lewitt.

I used a 2" x 3" Blick Readycut printing block, black Speedball water soluble block printing ink, a #1 Speedball linoleum cutter with a Speedball Linoleum Cutter Handle, a small metal inking plate, a 4" soft rubber brayer, and Strathmore 400 series heavyweight 280 gsm acid free 5' x 7" printmaking paper.

A grey printing block, being carved with a linoleum cutting tool, with a pile of grey block shavings to the right of the block.
The printing block being carved for the print “Bodega Cat” by Elizabeth Meggs. Photo courtesy the artist.

I believe it’s valuable for artists to occasionally drastically diverge from regular practice in terms of media, process, subject, and content. A small work is a good place for such divergence, as it can be done using limited valuable time and materials. Breaking away from habits and patterns recharges creative batteries and allows an artist to return to regular practice with renewed sensitivity and refreshed observation skills.

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Elizabeth Meggs

Elizabeth Meggs

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Elizabeth Meggs is a Brooklyn-based artist, designer, and writer. BFA: Virginia Commonwealth University; MFA: Pratt Institute