This is the third installment from the series of posts that will describe my thoughts and technical insights from selected works included in our newly released book, “Not Far from Home”….Enjoy!
Squinting…….bring on the Botox, or not.
Through the 25 years I have been painting, there is one recurrent problem that will hinder my efforts to produce an effective representation of what I am seeing. That problem is not properly squinting at the subject to simplify the information enough to solidify the masses and amplify the essentials. I have “Squint” signs up all around my studio, because even after years of doing this, I still want to open wide to see every little thing. The whole idea seems counter intuitive. You ask, “We are trying to see the subject aren’t we, wouldn’t that work best with our eyes wide open?!?!?” It seems like the answer should be yes, but, most of what we need to lock into is best observed with the non-essentials obscured or simplified. As I have described squinting in previous posts, I would like to address the technique here.
As I tried to figure out the squint in the early days, I had an approach that looked something like this, minus the gray hair.
Not only did I have a splitting head ache in about 10 minutes, but Botox wouldn’t touch these wrinkles.
Another not so excellent approach is the “Cheat Squint”.
I see this a lot as I teach. As I am harping to “Squint Down”, I have seen some in a stealthy half squint, gathering all the info they can with the open eye. I, too, have been guilty of this.
The best approach is to gently close your eyes until the lights and darks become more separate or value patterns simplify and the sharpest edges emerge. The key is to keep this up through the process, only opening your eyes to more easily identify the color temperature shifts within the simple shapes.
What might a good squint accomplish? As is seen in the detail of “Yellow Rose”, (page 83), with the squint I was able to more easily differentiate between the light and darks of the roses and organize the warm and cool lights on her head to accentuate the forms. When I would look at the subject open-eyed, the simple forms were almost hidden beneath the complexity of light. Simply put, I was able to wrap my head around the problem and break it down more easily.
Keep smiling and SQUINT DOWN!