Artist and oil painter Daniel Gerhartz's new book, Not Far From Home, is a visual compendium of his life's work as a painter. In it, you not only find inspiring, lush photographs of Gerhartz's oil paintings, but insightful and instructional information on oil painting techniques as well. To showcase all of the great content in the book, culled from his career as a professional painter, Gerhartz has created a blog dedicated to the lessons that provide a foundation for his work. One such lesson involves squinting. Here's what he has to say:
Through the 25 years I have been painting, there is one recurrent
problem that hinders my efforts to produce an effective
representation of what I am seeing--not properly
squinting at my subject. Without squinting, I can't simplify the visual information enough to solidify
the masses and amplify the essentials. I have “Squint” signs tacked up all
around my studio because even after years of doing this I still want
to open my eyes wide to take in every little thing I see.
The whole idea of squinting seems counter
intuitive, right? 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 visually lock into is
best observed with the non-essentials obscured or simplified.
|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 what
I like to call the“Cheat Squint." I see this a lot
as I teach. As I am harping to “Squint Down,"
have seen some painters in a stealthy
half-squint, gathering all the info they
the open eye. I, too, have been guilty of this at times.
|The best approach is to gently close your eyes
until the lights and
darks become more separate
or value patterns simplify and the sharpest
emerge. The key is to keep this up through the
painting process, only
opening your eyes to more
easily identify the color temperature shifts
the simple shapes.
||Yellow Rose by Daniel Gerhartz
What might a good squint accomplish? As is seen in the detail of Yellow Rose, with the squint I was able to more easily
differentiate between the lights and darks of the roses and organize the
warm and cool lights on the figure's 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, when squinting I was able to wrap my
head around the problem and break it down more easily. So keep smiling and squint down!
If you want to see more from Dan, check out his website and blog as well his new book: Not Far From Home. Enjoy!
|**Reader reviews for Not Far From Home**
“The quality and overarching sheer beauty of the book is inspirational.”
--Dr. Bruce T. Faure, collector
“Absolutely stunning…needs to be on your bookshelf if you are an artist or art lover.”
--Tony Pro, painter