Monday, May 30, 2016

Colors and Cataracts

Many artists (and others) around my age are discussing cataract surgery,  and they either marvel or rue the marked change in the perception of color. 
I have a preference for a soft yellow-leaning palette and all my drawings and oil pastels were done accordingly.  Orangy-red instead of alizarin crimson.  I reveled in that warm dreamy range of color. It made me very happy.  I saw the world itself in that palette. 
Cataract surgery on my left eye two years ago:  no, this isn’t possible.  Is that what everyone sees, a cool neutered white?  (Some artists reported a sudden new brilliant white).  My entire body of work, not to mention every environment I inhabit, was suddenly not what I thought it was.  Cooler.
My dominant right eye, as yet unfixed, still sees what I always saw.  To draw in color now I have to close that eye to create on the paper what I think most uncataracted people see, to get the warm color I want.  I can’t go back and change the color of my finished work.  I can only go forward, closing my right eye frequently to perceive what must be the common visual reality. 
Everywhere else, with both eyes open, I see a mix, not so warm, not so cool.  For this reason alone, I’ll hang onto that little cloud in my right eye until it really has to go, and I wink one way and then the other, to get the whole story. 
It's something like this, but of course I also have no control over what you see on your screen, we all see something different, and double that for alternating winks.  But to try to clarify:
Right eye                                            Left eye
Well, it's hard to explain.