The past couple of months have been tumultuous, to say the least. I had started to despair last year about how my vision, particularly in my left eye, had been deteriorating steadily. I had to reduce the time I spent painting because the eye strain was exhausting. After visits to my optometrist, who had reached the limits of available lenses (eyeglass or contact) strong enough to correct my near-sightedness, and a couple of visits to a retinal specialist it seemed there wasn't much to be done. Finally, I decided to be much more specific about what I was and wasn't seeing at my last visit to my optometrist. It wasn't just that my vision was blurry, but I was seeing in triplicate (it became apparent when sitting on the subway staring at the lit-up strip indicating all the stops coming up, and each stop had a triad of red points!) and I was frustrated about how my paintings looked dull as much as I tried to add highlights. Suddenly, the doctor lit up, did a couple more tests and said that I might have cataracts, a diagnosis that hadn't occurred to him because I am relatively young for this. A referral to an opthamologist confirmed this diagnoses, and before I knew it I was getting special eye measurements, a pre-op health assessment and was scheduled for surgery, one eye first and the other two weeks later. I just had the second eye done a few days ago.
The results are astonishing, to say the least. I can get up in the morning and not grope for my Coke bottle-bottom eyeglasses, which I always kept nearby on my nightstand. Without them, I could barely see 8" in front of my face. The new lenses, now IN my eyeballs, have corrected my vision to around 20/25 or 20/30 (so far... they are still "setting in", whatever that means!). Equally incredible is how bright and more blue-tinted the world looks to me now. Not only had the cataracts clouded my vision, but they had created a yellow-ochre haze.
Needless to say, the first time I was able to get back to my studio after the first eye was done I literally could not believe my eyes. The blues and sunlit areas of my paintings were brighter than I had thought they were. All the colors seemed more vibrant. I kept closing one eye and then the other to compare. I had heard this may happen, but actually experiencing it was incredible. I have been overjoyed. And recently, a new studiomate I was excited about ended up having to move out after a month. So, when I got back to my studio, I hauled out these three enormous canvases I had bought almost a year ago on a whim from a friend who was clearing out her studio.
During the 3 or 4 days between the two operations, I was so inspired, excited, and energized that I started TWO (!) 4 FEET by 6 FEET paintings, the largest I have ever attempted. I had already completed two smaller ones of the Lily Pools at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It looks like I may be starting a series!
These are still in progress, but I thought I'd share them here:
I've been posting on my Facebook artist page about the progress of these paintings. Not only are my largest brushes barely big enough, after a few days (and many hours each day) my arms and wrist became tired. Working at this scale is physically more demanding!
Of course, the first (and not surprising) reference to you-know-which artist has come up, and I am trying to decide whether it is a good or bad thing. I am definitely NOT channeling Monet, and hope to make my own mark, literally and figuratively, in this particular genre, if you can even call it that.
It will be a few more days before I can safely return to the (somewhat) toxic oil paints, thinners, and mediums. Meanwhile, I savor my new vision, await the delivery of an order of cans and large tubes of paint (I am nearly ran out of most of my paints after a few days of painting these large canvases), and anticipate my time back in the studio with great excitement.
Here are the two that are finished:
I can't even imagine what it will be like when I get outside to paint plein air.