Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fresh Print: Doonagore Castle

I'm not sure why we are so fascinated by ruins. I mean, if you're so touched by the wonder of a once proud structure left to the whims of the elements, you'd be enthralled and captivated by our crumbling bungalow here in South Buffalo.

Alas, this castle, which stands strong near Doolin, Ireland, is not a ruin, having been purchased and rehabbed and made into a summer home for an American family, according to Wikipedia. I found the building by accident one day while researching something else. This round structure standing by the edge of the sea fed my dreams of going to the homeland (I'm about 1/10 Irish, but my liver is 90%). 

According to one source, the name of the castle means "fortress of the goats." Nothing against goats, but my wife prefers sheep, and so that's what we have. The studies for the sheep came from a small herd at Knox Farm Stet Park in East Aurora. I highly recomment stopping by before the state shuts it down.

The image is 6X4 inches, printed in seven colors from a single block of birch plywood. Edition of 6, printed in oil-based inks on cream-color cotton paper.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I love this print, the concept of it. Campers safely snuggled away in their tent listening to someone telling a ghost story, complete with flashlight-under-the-chin special effects.

Meanwhile out in the dark, dark forest lurks a few disembodied spirits eager to hear the tale!

I love the dark background of gnarled trees -- done in blue-gray, blue black and, finally, black. The back rows of trees are a subtle contrast against the black, and give the close-up viewer a little bit of a surprise. The tent absolutely glows in the foreground and really brings a mood of camping fun and comfort -- evin amid the menacing surroundings. Six color reduction woodcut printed on cotton paper with oil-based inks from a single birch plywood block.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Back to the ol' Carving Board

Ah, so I took a little break, and now I'm back to "Ghost Story."

This is color number two, and I've very happy with it. I think it's going to be a good one (and NO MOON!)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Apres Le Deluge.....

Last summer we had a rainwater backup in our basement. It's not uncommon, and usually the water is kind enough to stay in one little corner of the basement. But for whatever reason, this time was different. I ran down to see water spouting out of the sewer, and I immediately dammed (and damned) the area around the drain. I then waited for it to recede, which it did not. I stood helpless as the flood inched beyond its previous recorded boundaries. It seeped under the steps, back along my wife's studio wall, claiming box after box of papers and pieces of glass. I rescued what I could, but it was moving too fast. It had the audacity to threaten my studio, even tiptoed over the threshold a bit. Then, the rains stopped, and the cleanup began.

I went through many boxes of files and papers which had quickly wicked up the soup. One of them held a large portion of my work from 2004-2006. No great loss, but it was still sad having to toss so many prints. A few days ago, I set to really cleaning up the basement, and started going through some salvaged files. I uncovered this gem. It's unfinished, and was a pretty ambitious project as I recall. I estimated that it would be about 17 colors. At that time I had just switched over to high-quality block-printing inks. I'm self taught, so everything was trial and error. The big error I made back then was that instead of printing a color and waiting for it to dry, I would print, then blot it with newsprint, then print again, up to four colors in a day. The result was that the fresh ink would not adhere to the previous layers. Boy, was I a silly printmaker.

So, this print, the working title of which was something like "We Regret To Inform You....," was, conceptually, a comment on the real cost of war: A woman answering the door to two military notifiers, The flag, and the blue star backlit by brilliant sunshine (trust me -- it would have been there) and in the foreground, a little girl, her eyes brimming with tears, pleading at the viewer, screaming in grief. Yup, woulda looked sweet in your dining room.

I actually thought I had lost all of the copies of it, and in my mind, I thought it had been a 6x4 print. It is 8x10, a size I experimented with for about a year. It was printed in the old days before I had a press, and I would ink the block and then burnish the back of the paper with a wooden spoon.

Oh, indeed, it could be a candidate for the hallowed walls of the Museum of Bad Art, and I may send them a copy. The mother at the door, though she's supposed to be covering her mouth in shock, may just as well be saluting the soldiers at the door. Her dress looks as if it was shredded by a cat. And can you say CANKLES? The flag is pretty awesome if I may say so myself, but that lamp is from the Picasso collection at Value City. The girl? Well, she's unfinished, but really, she looks more like Mrs. Gaines, my grandmother's old neighbor from the Elmwood District (she had a mustache you could comb, and she was so crazy crazy people would go "Whoa!"). Other than that, it's just lovely. Just wanted to share.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In the BEGINNING....

...the printmaker said, "LET THERE BE a LIGHT source within the confines of the orange canvas tent." AND THERE WAS a LIGHT source within the confines of the orange canvas tent. Stay tuned as I take you through each state of this "Ghost Story."

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Name Game: RESULTS ARE IN!

The deadline for entries was 3:30 this afternoon. I had eleven serious entries (and about 8 entertaining ones), and tonight I presented them, without the names of their creators, to my lovely wife Amy, who chose two finalists. After a few minutes of debate, it was decided to combine the two entries and award prints to both entrants. And so I would like to thank Jerry Ginley and Audley Sue Wing for naming my print "Azure Oasis."

A new contest is coming up in a few weeks, so stay tuned, and thank you to everyone who took the time to enter the contest.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Napping Cat PRESSED!

I hadn't planned it, but this print was made at the same time as the Oasis print (see below), and used similar colors.

In case your computer can't pick up the subtle colors, the moon is pale yellow, and the moon glow and highlights are a very pale moonglow  blue. In fact, that's what I call the formula. Moonglow Blue. It's also a good band name.

The areas where it looks like the ink is missing are areas where the board had wide grain. Although I like having the grain show in my work, I found it was distracting in the large field of black. I attempted to overload the block with black ink. However, when going through the press, the pressure would cause the paper to skate over that thick layer of ink. Ergo, I lost five on this edition. The good news, there are five beautiful pieces available at (click on the press at the top of this page).

I put the print on the mantelpiece and my wife and I spent some time discussing it. Then we both got quiet. One yawned, then the other. I recommend this print for a bedroom, maybe a child's bedroom. Because I'm getting drowsy right now. Look at that happy, napping cat. Sooooo snuggguhwqdddddddbnzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Bit About A Block....

I like to show people the blocks once the printing is done. It helps people to understand the reduction printing process better. The print (see yesterday's post) was printed from a single block of birch plywood. Usually, there is very little left of the block. This was one of those rarities where the remaining block could hold up as its own print.

Friday, February 19, 2010

12:01 At The Oasis: Win This Print!

Some years ago, when I was working as a screenprinter in a greeting card factory, I became fascinated by the play of the overhead fluorescent lights in the cups of ink on my press table. And thanks to my overindulgence on "Harold and the Purple Crayon" books, among other things, I became fascinated by the moon. Add being drawn to Henri Rousseau's famous "The Sleeping Gypsy" (left) and the eerie album art of my brother's Blue Oyster Cult "Agents of Fortune" LP, it was only inevitable (in my mind only, I imagine) that they would all come together to form the print I am introducing to you now.

This untitled (as yet) woodcut began its life as a light yellow rectangle. You will notice a little dot in one corner. Not only is that there to tell me the position of the block on the press, but it also helped to remind me which print this was for, as I was printing a different, non-descript block the same night with the same ink for a different print.

The next state was a very light orange-gray, specifically, a PMS Warm Gray 5 approximation. I love the warm grays, and used them for liberally in the previous ocean storm print. You will notice that I had cut out the crescent moon and a few stars.

You might say, "Dude, that's not Warm gray anything. That's BLUE!" Good sleuthing, Sherlock. Indeed. I had forgotten to print a proof of this state at the time, and had to print this proof out the next day. So then, because you're like that, you might say, "But dude! Aren't you supposed to print a proof BEFORE you print the edition. That's when I take you aside and slip you a fin and ask you kindly-yet-threateningly to shut your yap, saying that when I print, I prefer to play the game called "Proof or Dare."

Next up, having cut out the highlights of the dunes (or mountains, if you prefer...but they're dunes) to reveal the Warm gray #5, I printed state 3 in a very dark version of Warm Gray 11.

There is also a shoreline highlight at the water's edge, a technique I learned from watching Bob "Happy Little Trees" Ross on PBS. Hey, when you can't afford art school, you take your knowledge anywhere it comes from. Thanks, Bob.

The fourth state was a scary one for me. When you are doing a night sky, it's really hard to judge how light or dark to go. I used a straight medium blue ink for this state originally. But the ink was very transparent, and the darker color underneath caused the ink to go almost black. I hemmed and hawed over that for a few minutes, then decided it wasn't right. I added just a touch of white, which not only lightens a color but makes it more opaque, and this was the result. This is about the point I get very nervous about a print, because it just looks weird. Reduction printing, like life, requires a lot of blind faith that everything is going to work out just fine. 

The last block usually ties everything together. In multiple block printing, it's called the key block, and is usually black ink. In reduction printing it is called -- at least by me -- the if-I-make-a-mistake-on-this-I'm-going-to-cry-like-a-colicky-infant block. I've lost my share of prints like this. But, losing in the last minutes of the game is old hat for us Buffalonians. Am I right people?! Heeya!

But seriously, folks, this block was a very scary one to cut. I studies the lay of the fronds of palms at the Botanical Gardens, and from photos, and developed a technique of cutting the fronds that made me very, very satisfied with this print. I was also a little nervous about how the water was going to look.

And when it was all over, this is what I had:

Now, here's where you can WIN THIS PRINT!

With all apologies to Maria Muldaur, there is no way in hell I'm calling this "Midnight at the Oasis." Even though the song was stuck in my head the whole time I was printing it. So, I'm leaving it up to you. Think up a title and either post it in the comments section below this post, or email me at My lovely wife, Amy, will choose her favorite of the entries. The winner will receive one of this edition of six. That's a $20 value. Ssssssweet!

Contest closes at 3:30 PM March 1, 2010. Winner will be announced March 2. Not very creative? Then just go ahead to my store (click the press at the top of the page).

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Still untitled, this is the very latest off of the press here at NCP. A ship tossed in angry foaming seas, watched by a sentinel deep in the shroud of fog, this is my favorite print so far.

The image is 6"x4", and is 8 colors of oil-based ink on lightweight off-white French-made paper.

The print was inspired by a quote, now forgotten, concerning hope, which I had read during a particularly dark and worrisome time in December. This image came to me, and I am thrilled that I was able to recreate the image on paper.

While it is common to print from lightest color to darkest, I chose to print the water darkest to lightest, hoping that the water would take on more texture and a more "mottled" appearence, particularly in the foam.
For information on acquiring this or other prints, please visit my shop.

Napping Cat Press Welcomes The Year of the Tiger

Happy 2010! It is indeed the year of the tiger. I'm very excited about the new year and the work that lies ahead for Napping Cat Press. Here I am just before Christmas with our Vice President of Morale & Bellyrubs, Solstice (Ticey). Ticey was rescued from Hamburg, NY's Ten Lives Club.

Originally from Kentucky, Ticey was sent up here all boney and scraggly and with just a few teeth left. Now, she's the happiest cat in the bunch, and has a bit of a winter paunch (despite her dental situation, she misses no meals). A lot is written about helping out shelter animals, but the fact is -- and it's been proven here at Napping Cat Press time and time again -- inviting a pet into your home is actually helping the human. And boy to we hairless monkeys need help.