This is about how to maintain eye health and how to get prescription eyeglasses which work best for painting detail. It includes one artist's experience of demonstrating to her optician what her prescription needs were - using her paintings and posture.
Working in detail, as botanical artists do, can mean your eyes become strained and deteriorate if you don't look after them and/or use proper lighting, magnification. You can be left feeling tired and unwell.
Obviously, botanical artists recognise the need for:
Investing in a special pair of specs if you are very short-sighted, it was one of those light-bulb moments for me (although it may be obvious to everyone else) and has made a lot of difference. Strangely, the optician was very dubious as to whether it would be worthwhile and seemed quite surprised when I reported that I used them every day.
The Botanical Artists Group (on Facebook) recently had an extensive discussion about eyesight and how best to get glasses which suit an artist's needs. One of the recommendations was to show the optician precisely the range of distances needed for glasses for painting.
So one artist did that - and this is her story of what happened next!
Prescribing eyeglasses for botanical art - Susan Tomlinson's story
This is a follow up to an earlier thread about task-specific glasses for botanical painting. On the very good advice in that thread, I took some of my paintings in to my optometrist to show him what I actually paint.
I think this really helped a lot, because when you say you “paint”, people have a very different idea of what that means from what we actually do. It not only helped him see what I needed, he was also fascinated by the problem of creating glasses that would help me. (He even looked at one of the paintings under his microscope.)
So after trying out a few different powers of lenses, we settled on a pair of bifocals.
This is important, because while I normally wear progressive lenses, he explained that progressives would not have the precision for what I needed.
I told him that I had tried using some reading glasses I had bought online, but that they didn’t help, and he said that the quality of the optics of “over-the-counter” reading glasses is not as good as we need it to be.
Also, we chose
This means that I can’t really use the glasses for anything else, since anything beyond a couple of feet is out of focus for me.
We talked about trifocals, but decided this would make the bottom focal length too small to be useful for painting.
I used the glasses for a couple of weeks and was very pleased. I was able to paint without using a magnifying lens at all, which is very freeing.
It took some getting used to - not being able to see beyond two feet - but I wear the glasses on a cord, so when I need to look beyond, I just take them off.
Today was a follow up and after we talked a bit, he decided to tape a couple of lenses to the inside of the new glasses to see if I would benefit from going to a slightly higher power on the bottom lens. I took them home and painted with them for a while and was amazed. Honest to goodness, these glasses are a miracle.
So I called back and his optician was waiting for my call. He had already spoken to her about a possible tweak to the prescription and she was ready for it.
I mention this because I think that taking the paintings in is really what made the difference. He and his staff are really engaged in helping me get some glasses for painting.
I thought I’d post this in the hopes it might be useful to someone else in terms of:
Finally, I can also report at this writing that my eyes feel much more rested at the end of a long day of painting than they did before I had the task-specific glasses.
...and another thing...
On the basis of all this, I also took my paintings in to my Physical Therapy session a couple of weeks ago. I have been going to PT for a rotator cuff issue associated with a tennis injury, but I kept asking my PT about exercises that might help my posture while I paint.
It didn’t click with him about what I needed until I took my paintings in. Suddenly, that became part of the therapy.
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