One of the things I do is make art prints. Not in a traditional lithographic drawing on a piece of stone way but in a modern computer graphic way. I draw some stuff, scan it in, arrange, and color it on the computer. I much prefer to draw on paper rather than a computer but after scanning the image in I can do things with color and composition that would be hard to duplicate with just paper and paint. It’s an interesting process. Plus it intrigues me not to have an individual original piece of art, as I do with my paintings, but a piece that is meant to be seen in its reproduced form. The final print is the thing. There is no complete “original”. Pieces of original art exist on paper but the whole exists in the world of bits and bytes. And printer ink and paper.

The print is the thing and that is the problem I’ve been having lately. I print on an Epson R1800 inkjet printer which is very nice in an of itself but ink for inkjet printers is about the most expensive liquid on earth. My printer has eight different ink cartridges and one or the other is always running out. It still beats the days when all of the color was on one cartridge and as you ran out of a single color you had to replace them all. But still it gets expensive keeping that printer filled with ink. The paper I use isn’t exactly cheap either.

It’s been that expense which has kept me from printing out all of the prints that I’ve made for the last year or so. But I’ve kept making prints on the virtual level. Drawing, scanning, composing, and coloring. I just didn’t print any up. I think this lead to a fundamental problem. None of them were actually “finished”.

In the self motivated world of art for art’s sake finishing things is very important. You have to see that you are getting something done. That is vital from a morale point of view because money is not the motivator. It’s the making something that’s important. Without making actual printouts of my prints something was lacking. This winter I found that I was having a hard time finishing things. Whether a painting, a print, or a photograph I didn’t seem to be getting much done.

I had plenty of drawings. Stacks of them. It wasn’t like I was doing nothing but once I got into the habit of not printing out my prints that was one less finished thing I had. It also made finishing other things less important. Then I had even less finished things and meandered without direction more often. There is something to be said for aimless wandering but too much of it is disorienting.

So this week I finished up and printed out two new prints. It felt good and made my art morale go higher. Now I’ve been going back and getting the twenty or so prints I’ve made ready to print out. That’s always a lot more work than I think. Getting something to print up pretty takes technical work that I don’t think about as I’m in the creative process. Gritty, moving things around, setting proper margins, entering numbers, and getting the blacks right kind of work. Nothing exciting and quite tedious. But after I get some more ink and paper it will all be worth it. Some things will be finished.