By Lee Teter
About 40 years ago I wanted to produce art prints in full color but it was too expensive. A minimum investment of 3-6 thousand dollars (a lot of money back then) was needed to produce a single edition. I lived in a one room cabin and made a living as a fledgling artist: I didn’t have much money. So, I made my own color. First, I made a drawing that was crafted to facilitate color. After the drawing was printed in black ink, I would paint color into each print by hand. I call my final work a “painted drawing”. The unpainted drawing is sold too, but it is only one component leading to the ultimate goal of having fun with color and being creative on the way to making several unique works of art from the same pattern.
My method was inspired by Currier & Ives, but instead of hiring people to paint (as they did) I did it myself. I didn’t bother with attempting to keep the colors of each picture the same. Instead, I embraced the idea that each would be an opportunity to alter mood, and sometimes composition and content as well. Every sheet would be unique.
Eventually I could afford full color prints and as the years passed I slowly moved away from painting my printed drawings, but many factors drew me back. Price is one. When one painting must pay for the months of work involved, the price for that picture is necessarily large. However, dividing the cost between several pictures brings the price down. I know what it is like to work hard for little money, so I like the fact that my painted drawings let people own really nice art without breaking their budget. And I like the idea that my art can hang in more than one home and still be very unique.
There are other reasons I’ve gone backward to my old ways as I move forward toward better art, but the best one is that it makes me feel young again. One of the great qualities of youth is excitement, and I find it exciting to place a printed drawing on my work table and begin fresh each time.