A few days ago I was visiting with my friend Beryl. She made me this wonderful heart! Love it. :)
The plan was making fabric and paper collages for use in other work. There was no particular goal in mind, just the making and hopefully the springboard to something else. This was a good thing for me, as I’ve been feeling in a creative slump. “Just work. It will come.” We ended up talking and talking, which is great. At one point she asked me if I started using my new printer. My answer: No.
That’s right, my brand new Epson Pro Stylus 7900 and the only thing I printed was a poster size print to confirm all works as it should. Otherwise, it has sat for a month. I had a 7600 and was lusting after newer models for years. And now I have it: the latest 7900 with HDR Ultrachrome inks, currently the best pigments Epson offers.
Beryl said “too precious.” Huh? Shen then told me a story of when she was taking classes. She had her Sennelier pastels with her. I know those pricey pastels well. I have two boxes of them, and each pastel remains in its foam bed to keep it in excellent condition. Her teacher asked her why she wasn’t using them. She explained, and I understood; I use mine sparingly, too. The teacher went on. “Are they too precious for you to use? Give me those precious pastels.” The teacher took each one and broke it into thirds. I gasped. Beryl told me she was horrifed. The teacher went on about how they are just tools, they are not precious. What you create with it is precious. “Now get on with making art. That’s what is precious.” And she did. My eyes were still widened, but with the water-in-your-face knowledge that her teacher was absolutely right.
A few days later an artist wrote me online regarding some printer help and a recommendation. One issue was her concern that the ink was past the expiration date and she didn’t want to mess anything up by using it. I replied: Epson says that you have a year past the expiration date. However, I’ve used cartridges that were many years past the expiration date without any problem. Just use the ink. It’s not going to hurt anything. If it really comes bad, then replace the ink. For the printer, I suggested she spend the extra money for the better model. She’d use it all of the time and will not regret the purchase. I then said in the letter, “This from the woman who has a new 7900 and isn’t using it because it was expensive, the ink is expensive, and she doesn’t want to break anything.” Yes, speaking in the third person. I’m almost longing for my 7600, which I bought used and would shove anything into it to print without any fear of breaking anything.
She replied, “Isn’t it interesting how the cost affects our responses? It still seems too precious to risk and yet you got it to push your art further.”
There was that word again, “precious.” Yes, it does seem too precious to use. Then why did I buy it? It’s a fantastic tool that should make the printing process easier. Then why aren’t I using it? Fear. What am I afraid of? Breaking it. What’s the worse that happens if I break it? I’ll have to get it fixed, and then I won’t be able to use it. But you’re not using it now. True. Not only are you not using it, you’re allowing it to stunt you into creative paralysis.
Beryl and I have been trading stories of what we’re doing with the collages. I told her I was making more. Her too. She spilled her various ideas. All I came up with was maybe using it as foundation for a journal. (Just one look at Beryl’s inspiring journals and I’m eager to make my own.) But what about something else? They are interesting looking. What could I do? Could they serve as something else?
Later in the evening I started studying the collages. I started discovering areas that were holding my attention. I photographed them. Studying the photos gave me more ideas. I painted more. I photographed more. I took the photos into Photoshop and worked with them more. Suddenly I have a series of designs going. I don’t have them photographed as I’m still working with them, but they hold promise (and I don’t want to show them for fear of jinxing and never working on them again – yes, I need therapy!). And, oh my goodness, I am finally feeling some inspiration. I want to create, and I need that printer to help get these ideas going. No longer does that printer seem so precious to sit there in fear of breaking something. It’s as though Beryl’s teacher is shouting at me: Now get on with making art!