Why do painters squint? What do they see?
People often ask me, "Why do painters squint?" They squint, or I squint, to simplify what I’m seeing. When you squint down you’ll notice that most detail disappears. When these details disappear I can focus my attention on breaking down what I’m observing into a few simple and coherent shapes. Squinting is not helpful in determining the color I perceive. I have to keep my eyes open and relaxed, not fixated or staring, when I want to observe color. Colors darken when you squint. Give it a try. Simplification of what I'm seeing is necessary before I can translate my observations into a number of related shapes and forms. These forms are what I’ll render on canvas. Not the tree, the road, the sky, or things or ideas but forms. I’ll pay particular attention to edge of the forms too. Squinting at my subject allows me to reduce details to simple patterns that I can manage. That’s what I’m doing. I’m simplifying what I see to it’s essential essence of form and light. Light shapes a form in space. I never squint at my canvas. I will work on it and back up from it several times during a painting session. This allows me to see the “big picture”. I can see the canvas from various distances as its developing and I can see my work in relationship to my subject.