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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A Man Lost His Eyesight, But It Turned Him Into An Artist

A Man Lost His Eyesight, But It Turned Him Into An Artist

We take so many things for granted that it's not until we lose them that we realize how much we really appreciated having them in the first place. For one man, his sight is the thing he has had to learn to live without. John Bramblitt loved art as a child, but it wasn't until his adulthood that he began to really explore it. Complications with epilepsy and Lyme's disease caused John to become blind; his previous dreams of becoming a writer were destroyed. That's when his life long love with art took its true form and he began to paint. 

John was actually legally blind for several years, but didn't realize it because he thought blindness was a world of complete darkness.

Seizures caused his vision to blur, but not much attention was given to this fact because it was assumed that when the seizures stopped, his vision would be fine. The seizures got worse and eventually caused his sight to completely disappear. In the year after John lost his sight, he became deeply depressed by the thought that without his sight he wouldn't be able to be independent anymore. In reality, it was actually just the start of a whole new world. John began to draw. One late afternoon he drew lines on a piece of paper and then crumpled it up just to do it again. By morning he had a misshapen drawing of a Buddha statue and unlimited possibilities ahead of him. 

"When you break it down the eyes really only do two things for a painter; they allow you to know your placement on a canvas (where you are and where you have been), and it allows you determine color."

Raised lines from drying paint allow John to feel his way around the canvas. He also feels the texture of the different paints to know which one to use and what color it is. He also paints with oils that have a viscosity and texture that is slightly different for each color. This one is called: "Bison"


John started with only three colors when he began painting: Titanium White, Ivory Black, and a Cadmium Red deep hue. 

After a month he would add a new color and begin working it into his paintings for more variety. John says he loves that he can constantly experiment and push the boundaries just like master painters.
"For example: Titanium White is very thick like toothpaste while Ivory Black is fairly runny - more like oil. By adding a little thinner you can make it even more so. In order to mix a gray halfway between white and black you simply mix for a texture that is halfway between the thick and thin paints. This is actually a very precise way of mixing color because your sense of touch is extremely adept at sensing subtle changes in texture. With practice it becomes even more so." This one is called: "Huskies"

John doesn't consider him a disabled or blind artist. He says that when he started having art shows he never told anyone he was blind. He would stand by a wall with his white cane and people would come up to him asking where the artist was. When he would tell them that he was the artist, there would be a moment of silence before they went back to look at the art again "trying to find the blindness in the art." He didn't broadcast his blindness because he didn't want people to perceive his art differently. After successful shows and interviews, everyone knew he was blind. Thus, he began holding regular show openings and didn't hide his blindness.

"Mystery Eyes"

John says that in a way he is glad he became blind. He says his loss of sight has led him to new experiences and allowed him to learn more from his mistakes than his successes. 

"At least when I am having difficulty I know that I am pushing the limits and boundaries of what I am capable of. If things are easy then I am just coasting. Every moment shouldn’t be a struggle, we need to rest and relax – these times are just not necessarily our most productive times though." This one is called: "A Stolen Moment"

Being disabled by definition means to be crippled, injured, or incapacitated, helpless, powerless, or handicapped. The opposite word to disabled is 'healthy'--which is entirely wrong. John says the problem with the word 'disabled' is that it creates a divide between what we consider normal and what we consider not normal."Normal is a perception, and as art lovers I think we know just how malleable our perceptions can be – which also means, alternatively, that we have the power to change them and to shape our own future."

"Little Echo"

"I think we should wear our scars -they might just be the most interesting aspects about us."

"Morning Forest"

Main and collage image via Sightless Works The Art Of John Bramblitt

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