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Squinting to See the Light (funny story)

Squinting to see the light

Watercolor in large Moleskine notebook

Today at work, 10 of us were sitting around the table in the lunchroom eating and chatting. I sat across from our director, facing the picture window and our 27th-story view of Oakland, the San Francisco Bay, Mt. Tamalpais and the huge, cloudy sky. I was thinking about what I learned in my painting class last Sunday about the importance of learning to see color temperatures and value. A good way to do that is to close one eye and squint, which helps to blur the details, so that you can see shapes and values. I decided to practice on a blue house and a large brick building that I could see in the distance. I tried one eye and then the other, curious if it made a difference between my left and right eyes.

Suddenly I realized the conversation had stopped, our director was asking me if I was OK, and everyone was staring at me. I burst out laughing realizing that I was sitting there making weird squinty faces and they were all thinking I had an excruciating headache or had suddenly gone mad. I started trying to explain what I was doing and they looked at me perplexed. They finally realized it was an “art thing” and went back to chatting about work and TV shows and travel.

When I got home tonight, I looked in the mirror to see just how funny I looked and had to do this quickie self-portrait in my sketchbook. Amazingly it actually looks like me!

29 replies on “Squinting to See the Light (funny story)”

TOO FUNNY, Jana!!!! But your portrait is fantastic!! I love how you captured that ‘squinty’ look — I can just imagine what your cohorts were thinking! LOL It’s funny too, isn’t it, how an art idea gets into our heads and keeps us looking at the world differently?!


Very funny, though the painting is excellent. Now do a similar one without the distortion!

My favorite office-worker story is a guy who decided to put a plastic bag over his head to see how long he would last … then the CEO walked into his office. At least you didn’t do anything life-threatening.


I really, really like this self-portrait. The story is funny too. I’ve noticed that since my eyes have gotten worse as I age, I’ve become a better painter. I supposee that’s because I’ve lost some of the details when I look! Anyway, thanks for posting this painting.


love your story and the portrait

great expression on your face and oh the colors! and I’m especially impressed with that nose, I have the hardest time rendering noses.


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