I’ve started a new project that is very different from everything I’ve created before! I filmed an announcement about the project that you can see here on my Facebook page or you can read along as I go into deeper detail about the specifics of what my project entails.
Peripherals is the name of the new body of work I am setting out to create! This body of work will be paintings of how I see through my legally blind eye. For those of you who have been following along with this blog off and on for the past 6 years (6 years?!) this is probably news to you. That’s because I can see perfectly fine with my one good eye, with a pair of glasses for its nearsightedness, so it didn’t seem necessary to mention it before.
If that’s the case then why am I suddenly deciding to do this project? Well, in the past few years I’ve been listening to the stories of a family member who is currently in the process of going completely blind. I’ve learned about their emotional and social challenges that they have been going through due to their significant loss of sight. Not only that but the harassment they face on a regular basis from the public simply because they cannot see well. The harassment seems to be worse when people find out that they are not completely blind. They told me they wished they could show people exactly what they were seeing so people could understand what they were going through and stop bothering them. (In another post I will go into detail about what exactly I mean by “bothering” and “harassment”). Because of their stories I realized I was in the right position to do exactly that, show people what visual impairment looks like. I cannot show you that family member’s legal blindness but I can you show mine.
This is how I’m going to do it!
I’m going to paint exactly what I’m seeing through my legally blind eye. To do that, I need to look at my subject with my good eye closed. I look with my bad eye and make a mental note of what I’m seeing. Then, I will paint what I saw with my good eye. If you were to watch me, the whole process would look ridiculous. I will closing my good eye over and over again, as if I am winking at my canvas.
Now to try to be as accurate as possible I need to paint from life and not from photographs. This means I won’t be taking old paintings and painting black spots on it to show an approximation of how it looks. There are so many approximations all over the internet and in text books with artists and scientists showing images of what tunnel vision or blind spots may look like. I’m going to show you exactly how I see!
Here’s the nitty gritty!
If I’m only going to be painting from life and not from photos that means I will be painting scenes of my apartment/studio, my friends, myself and of my city. As you’ve seen with my previous work I mostly paint from photographic reference. Although, I have painted from life many times before, but mostly of models during life drawing, or of still lifes in my studio. I haven’t done any En Plein Air (Painting outside) and unless I want my whole body of work to be just set in my apartment, I need to get comfortable painting outside. In public!
The break down is as follows.
Over the next few weeks I will be carting my supplies to various spots in the city and painting. I will not be painting my view from my bad eye, as of yet. First I want to get comfortable painting outside. What’s the difference between outside and inside? Time. Inside, I can control the light source. Outside, the sun is my light source and it moves, so I really only have an hour to get my composition and colours just right and then another hour or two to work on the details based on my initial composition. Or so I think, I haven’t really done this before :P
As I’m practicing I will also be “Scouting” out good spots and working on possible compositions. So there will end up being a lot of paintings of the same areas. From these studies I will decide what subjects I want to focus on.
Then, In the next month or so when I’ve become somewhat more comfortable with painting outside, I will start painting my favourite locations as I see them with my bad eye. On days that it’s raining I will work on compositions from inside my apartment/studio.
Don’t worry, because it’s been raining a lot up here in London, Ontario, I suspect you’ll see some “blind eye” paintings from my apartment really soon.
After I’ve collected enough En Plein Air studies that I am happy with, I will take them into the studio and repaint them on larger canvases. The paintings inside my apartment can probably start right away on large canvases once I’ve decided on subject and composition.
There is also the option of taking a larger canvas to a location on multiple days until it is completed. I just need to go to that location at the same time each day I go, so the lighting is correct. We will see as I go along which option will work best. I have a lot to learn!
I’m trying to paint as much as I can right now because there are only a couple of months before summer is over, then a couple of months before the weather gets really bad and I’m forced to stay inside. So, for the first little while, expect a lot of En Plein Air paintings!
During the month of August I will also be spending a week doing research on what it’s like living as a legally blind person. I will talk more about that as we get closer to that time.
Phew, I haven’t written a post this long in a while! I’ve already done a couple of days of En Plein Air painting so here are some pics of how they turned out! Please comment with any questions you may have or just comments on what you think of my project. Thanks!