seeing clearly

Visual art is called visual art for a reason – because the primary way of engaging with it is through the visual faculty. Artists sometimes spend years developing their ‘eye’, their ability to see things in a particular way and present that image to their audience. This may seem like an unusual thing to discuss and far more important than brands of colour, types of paper or any painting technique. Don’t you agree that the ability to see clearly has a huge impact on what we create?

One thing that has crept up on me recently is a gradual loss of close vision. Glasses didn’t really solve the problem – they would focus on the area right in front of me, but the far end of a large sheet of paper would require craning over to bring it back into focus. As a teacher I used to demonstrate  and paint these tiny little watercolor and gouache pictures of boats, aeroplanes, trucks and animals. Looking at the few still left I’m amazed at the fine detail – all done without glasses or contact lenses. It’s incredible how that sharp vision gradually deteriorates.

The surgery was quick and painless. I was rendered a local anaesthetic as soon as I entered the theater and the next thing I remember was sitting in a recovery room with a cup of tea and a number of other patients decorated with similar eye patches to mine.

A nurse explained what I should and should not do for the next month while the eye heals and settles. Next morning I woke up, removed the eye patch and immediately could read close up and clearly focus on distant objects without my glasses, and this was with just one eye done. A follow up appointment that morning confirmed that my new eye was working perfectly.

I asked the surgeon about the colour shift I noticed between the eye with the new lens and the other eye. Once cataracts begin, he explained, color saturation and contrast diminish and the eye takes on a yellow cast. So what I was seeing through the new eye was how things should appear. The slight Magenta tint will disappear over the next few days.

The removal of cataracts is rejuvenating my vision and I enjoy more beautiful, bright vibrant colors. The future holds some welcome challenges. One challenge is painting colour as I see it now. I find many happy surprises looking at my paintings done before the surgery. But there are some That tempt me to change them. I have decided it would be a good idea to wait on changing work until I get used to the way the world looks now.

So, for me it’s no more lost glasses, and clear, sharp vision for the rest of my life – these lenses don’t deteriorate like a natural lens. As far as painting is concerned, the best sable brush is only as good as the eyes of the person holding it, so I’m very happy – all my brushes work better now!


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