Tag Archives | glasses


Before I talk about my trip to Boise, I wanted to mention one of the tools I took with me. In a post a few years ago, I mentioned the trouble I was encountering with my near vision. At the time, I wondered how much longer I would be able to work on small-scale models. The sad truth was that in the year that followed, painting only got more difficult. Even with corrective lenses, I found that by the end of the day my ability to do close work was non-existent. My unintended hiatus from the studio may have been  due to the realization that the book would never be completed without a period of single-minded focus, but my growing frustration with my vision – and the resulting headaches – certainly played their part.

What I did not expect was just how bad that vision had deteriorated while I was away. Working on the computer, where I can enlarge images to fill my 27″ Macintosh monitor, hid the problem. When I returned to the studio, it was clear that even with reading glasses, the situation was not remotely workable. Not only were they not strong enough, the magnification was wrong for the distance I tended to hold things in order to paint them (which is quite a bit closer than people typically hold a book). I also needed them all the time, not just for the smallest details. That meant that I didn’t take them off, so when I looked at my desk for the next color or a specific tool, this is what I saw.

Where is that bottle of Smoke Gray again?

I already wear progressive bifocals with a far and a mid-range correction. But for work, what I needed was the correct magnification for really close work, plus a mid-range so I could glance over at the tools on my desk, and a distance so that I could see the pressure reading on the compressor or the temperature reading on the kiln (or know which of my children was at the door to interrupt me). Most progressives change from far to near starting at the top and going to the bottom. I needed the order changed so that the closest was in the central part of the lens, since that was their primary function.

Thankfully, my optometrist was willing to work with me to develop a specialized lens for studio work. I would encourage anyone with age-related vision issues to do this. In my case, I took my work and some tools and had her watch how I work. She then measured distances, and came up with a design that would work. She cautioned that we might have to make a few attempts to get the correction placement and the transitions just right, but so far it seems the lab got them right with the first try.

Like any progressive lens, they have taken a bit of time to adjust. I realize now that I really should have started the process much earlier. The glasses (which are pictured at the top with Taboo) arrived the day before I attended Christi’s workshop. Struggling with a completely different lens configuration at a workshop was not the smartest thing I ever did! And I was only marginally better when I left the next day for Boise. But little by little, I find my productivity returning now that I am losing my fear that what I think I see as I paint may be quite different from reality!
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Ruining my eyes

Because I started out working with small-scale horses, I’ve heard that I am ruining my eyes for years now. Since I’ve been horribly near-sighted since childhood, I never took it very seriously. How could someone not see something – even a really small something – that could be held up close?

Of course, age has humbled me on that score. In recent years, I’ve learned that I need to paint really small things early in the day, before my eyes are too tired to do close focusing. I also have progressive lenses, which help a bit, as do Ott lights. I know that the day will come when I simply cannot work on really small horses anymore, but I’m not there yet.

But I’m pushing it with Imp. I’m not there, but Imp is telling me I’m closer than I’d like to be to having a lower limit on what I can see.

And I can say that he sure is hitting below the limit on my precision airbrushing! Of course it doesn’t help that I decided to paint my first one (“Butterbean”, pictured above) in one of the no-see-it-when-raw color mixes. But even with a more visible underglaze, I’m coming to believe that this little guy is going to require a lot more hand painting on my part. It will also change what types of colors are likely to work for him, and which ones aren’t. Chances are he’ll present the kind of glazing challenges that lead to new techniques, just as his mother (“Vixen”) pushed the envelope on mold-making.

I plan to finish him up (inbetween the endless scritching on my insane sabino Voltage) so I can take him in his finished form to Idaho. Since Joan is a far more precise airbrush artist than I am, having her paint one will help me to see where the limits are based on tools, compared to my own limit on skill. That will help me make the call on whether or not he goes into “official” production, or is limited to a handful of specialty pieces.

In the meantime, Joan tells me that the Taboo mold is finished and that he is suitable for production. (At least, suitable for the smaller scale that I typically produce!) If that’s the case, I’ll probably announce the two adult molds as official releases shortly after I return.

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