CURIOSITY, EXPERIMENTATION, & DIVERGENCE
THE VALUE OF TAKING A BREAK FROM REGULAR STUDIO PRACTICE
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.
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.
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.