At first glance, these paintings seem pretty normal – not that they’re not extraordinary because they clearly are. It’s just that most people won’t easily decipher what’s extra special about them. Guess what? They have been painted by a blind person.
Yes, you read right. John Bramblitt is a “functionally blind” artist – his eyes can only tell the difference between sunlight and darkness, nothing else. You can easily write him off because come on, how does a visual artist carry on without just that, visuals?
However, John didn’t use that as an excuse to stop. In fact, it’s the very thing that catapulted his love of art! He started painting in 2001, just after he lost his sight because of complications due to his epilepsy. Most people find it ironic, but we at TAE find it so very inspiring!
“The first art shows that I did I never told anyone that I was blind,” John recalls. “I didn’t tell people that I was blind not because I was ashamed, but because I didn’t want it to affect the way they perceived the art.”
“At first the idea of being able to draw without eyesight didn’t even occur to me. It wasn’t until a year after going blind that I began to figure out a way to be able to draw again,” he says. “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, and it allows you determine color.”
Despite the lack of sight, John developed a way to paint using textures rather than colors, having found a way to distinguish and connect shades to how it feels on the canvas. “Basically what I do is replace everything that the eyes would do for a sighted artist with the sense of touch,” he explains. “The raised lines take care of finding your placement on the canvas.”
When there’s a will, there is indeed a way. As for the mixing and other stuff, he has a solution as well. “All of the bottles and paint tubes in my studio are Brailled, and when mixing colors I use recipes,” he says. “In other words I will measure out different portions of each color that I need to produce the right hue. This is no different than using a recipe to bake a cake.”
You might be thinking that it only sounds easier but gets complicated when you actually do it. For over a decade now, John has been doing this as a passion and an art, so it comes as no surprise that he’s found his own quirks and methods. “Over time I have developed different techniques that allow me to be much more precise when it comes to me laying down the lines.”
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Thanks for reading!