Pirate Painter Project – Rod’s Description
For the period of 2016 I will be creating my plein air pictures wearing an eye patch, a pirate painter so to speak. I have more or less 20/20 vision in my good eye, and only 25% vision in my lazy eye. For this project I am covering my good eye and relying completely my lazy eye to paint. This is a totally experimental period of work and I have now idea what the results will yield. I am adapting a scientific approach by writing a detailed report on the creation of each painting and videoing the process. This project has received the full backing of Wicklow County Arts Office in the form of a generous bursary. So watch this space when I reveal the results in 2017.
Pirate Painter Project – In Detail
I have a lazy eye, otherwise known as amblyopic eye. This condition can result in many and varied visual impairments, and these can range from mild to extreme. According to a recent optician test, the visual information I receive on my good eye is 92% of 20/20 vision verses 25% through my lazy eye. Specifically, the sight on my lazy eye is heavily blurred, but I do receive the same full range of both colour and light as with my good eye. This blurred vision applies equally up close as it does for looking into the distance.
Renowned art critic Martin Gayford commenting on Lucian Freud’s lazy-eye remarked how his paintings only came into focus from a distance, while up close they are all about mark-making and the lustre of oil paint. Apparently it’s to do with two sets of images being received by the brain, namely one sharp and the other blurred. My own painting has always born the same characteristics although I never understood the reason untill I read Martin Gayford.
I am now ready for the next artistic chapter in my artistic life. I am a firm believer in a structured and scientific approach so prefer changing just one element of my current modus operandi at a time so as to fully comprehend and judge the results. I see this project as an opportunity to disappear down a rabbit hole with no pre-conception of the pictorial results. My intention then is to calibrate and criticize the results viewing them in the wider context of landscape painting today.
Pirate Painter Project – The Questions
What happens if I subtract my good eye from the painting process? In what way would the resulting image be different? How will I deal with a fuzzy, distant subject? How will it affect the colours I see and how I mix them? How will I judge if a brush is loaded or not? To what extent will I believe the canvas is covered when it is not? And most importantly will I bend my restricted vision to suit my current style or visa-versa? Answer: I haven’t got a clue, but the prospect is very exciting.
Pirate Painter Project – In the Landscape
The Irish landscape is a means to an end for me, where the end is finding and developing my voice as an artist. So the landscape becomes a vehicle to investigating and developing my own style of plein air painting. This plein air conversation with Co. Wicklow continues unabated now into its 16 year.
My proposal is to continue my plein air conversation with the Wicklow landscape from April to December 2016 while wearing an eye-patch over my good eye. A pirate-painter if you like. It will be like painting with one hand tied behind my back and the results will be documented in oil on canvas in the form of a new body of experimental work. I hope with this experiment to better understand my physical perception of the world. Because my lazy-eye image and focus is so reduced and simplified I wonder to what extent the paintings will reflect this. I am also keen to know if my lazy-eye will improve during the year with all the extra exercise or if my brain will employ completion to “fill in the blanks” in the search for a more familiar image.