Thursday, June 29, 2017

Eye Scream

Ice cream  8x6" casein on illustration board
This morning I had my annual eye exam. With my new and improved vision I can nearly see into the future. Seriously, I have eyes like a hawk, or at least a sniper. My eye doctor has got to be one of the coolest guys I've met in a long time. You wouldn't know it if you looked at him, your nerd alert would go off in an instant but once you start chatting with him he's a lot of fun. So much fun that I ran an idea by him today. I told him I've been trying to figure out a way to blur my vision for when I go out painting. He didn't think this was crazy at all and immediately started pulling out lenses from his case. He said I need a frosted lens. What? Apparently they make a frosted lens for people with certain eye conditions. He said it's usually for a person who has had a stroke and they end up with double vision. The frosted lens will do something to the eye so that it "quiets" it down so they mostly use one eye. Unfortunately he didn't have any frosted lenses in his case today.  He did pull out a +5.25 reader lens that absolutely did what I was aiming for. Unfortunately they don't sell that strength over the counter. WHY do I want to blur my vision while painting? Keep reading and I'll explain.

Hopefully these two photos look different to you, if not you need to make an appointment with my eye doctor. Message me and I'll get you his info. The top photo is in focus and is what it would look like if you were out on location painting this scene. The bottom photo, hopefully, demonstrates what the same scene is like when you squint your eyes. Squinting is one of the greatest tools a painter can use. Most artists squint to get values. When you squint it blurs the objects and it's easier to see the darks, lights and middle values.  I also use it to help me determine what general shapes are in the scene. When the details are fuzzed out it's easier to see the big shapes. The hard thing about this is explaining it to someone who refuses to squint. You REALLY have to squint. Squint all the way down, like you're looking through your eyelashes. I have a friend who teaches workshops, he's a fantastic artist, and he always tells the story about a student who kept making the funniest faces while trying to paint. He finally asked her if she needed help, perhaps she had something in her eye. She responded by telling him she was fine, she was just trying to squint without squinting because she didn't want to get the eye wrinkles like he has. This is why I've been trying to find a way to blur vision, without spraying pepper spray or punching someone in the face. So until there's a way to tape someone's eyelids in a squinting position I came up with this. 
I couldn't find the super power strength readers, +3.25 was as high as I could find, so I got a +1.00 and some sand paper. This isn't perfect and I can only wear them for about 30 seconds before I feel funny, but it blurs out the details much like squinting. If you want to try this I recommend going to the dollar store for your glasses and possibly the sand paper too. I got lucky and my dollar store had both. Sand the lens slowly. Sand it and check, then sand more if needed. You can sand too much and then it's like looking through a foggy glass which isn't the same. The other thing is you have to get in the corners and edges too. I found if I missed a spot my eye went right for that spot.  Clearly my brain is telling my eye to focus on the clear spot and before I can tell my brain to stop over correcting it's too late. 
This isn't something I'd use every day, but it's a good tool to use to demonstrate the benefits of squinting. I'm curious what they will do on a really overcast day. Those types of days are always the hardest for me to squint and find my values. 


  1. Replies
    1. Absolutely it does but I eventually have to drive home so I needed another option.

  2. Could have saved you a trip to the dollar store. We have dozens of pre scratched pairs laying around. I wonder if you could take a pair of those 3D glasses and replace the red and green lenses with window screen, material from sheer curtains or the like?

    1. I've tried all sorts of fabric and the issue I had with all of them, so far, is they also diffuse the light so it's not great for values but good for general shapes.