As I posted the new banner image of my sketch, Flying Split, for the month of May 2011, I was thinking of how I sketch and why I use the technique that I do. See banner image below.
It is odd I suspect but my sketching technique invariably finds me squinting as I sketch…only then does the drawing emerge as I wish it to. Somehow this squinting helps me bring the image to life as I outline and shade the drawing to capture the subject’s contours, texture and depth. While I can’t completely explain the phenomenon, I believe my squinting enhances my visual depth of field. In this manner, I can “see” the image’s material dimensions, features and structure more clearly and distinctly.
Squinting I believe does for me what adjustment of a camera’s aperture does for the photographer. By changing the “F” stop to almost a pin hole, the photographer can limit the light entering the camera. The effect is to increase greatly the depth of field which achieves a fine focus of both foreground and background images. My squinting constricts my eye’s pupil thereby increasing the depth of field giving focus and detail to near and far–relatively–features of the subject for sketching.
Actually, this squinting technique is one I use when viewing paintings, especially impressionist renderings. I find the detail, depth and texture of the painted image leaps remarkably to life. Definition and relief are created by seeming globs of paint applied to capture a salient aspect of the subject where, logically, it is lighted with greatest intensity. Additional not so bold strokes define the subject’s increasingly less prominent aspects until all definition–upon close examination–is seemingly a chaotic riot of paint and brushstrokes.
I think this is where the “depth of field” theory of sketching is borne out. Give it a try: Squint in front of Monet’s lillies, or any other impression painting, and I believe the subject, foreground and background will come remarkably into detailed focus.