Painting By Touch by John Bramblitt

Denton, Texas-based artist John Bramblitt lost his sight due to complications with epilepsy, sending him into a deep depression.

"All of the hopes and dreams that I had for my life; all of the plans for what I would do after I graduated school were gone. I was not only depressed, but in mourning. The life that I had, along with the future that I was planning, was dead and gone. I felt like I had no potential; that basically I was a zero."

But his blindness was actually what sparked his career as an artist.

"Art reshaped my life.. 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."

Bramblitt is functionally blind, meaning that his eyes can only differentiate between sunlight and darkness. He learned to distinguish between different coloured paints by feeling their textures with his fingers.

“Basically what I do is replace everything that the eyes would do for a sighted artist with the sense of touch.. The raised lines take care of finding your placement on the canvas. Over time I have developed different techniques that allow me to be much more precise when it comes to me laying down the lines. Besides the number of paints, such as fabric paints, that are premade most of the embossing paints that I use now to draw with I actually mix myself. This allows me to control the drying time for different materials, and even to have lines that will remain raised for a period of time, but then dry flat allowing for techniques such as glazing and washes to be more effective. I have also developed techniques where lines can be overlaid on a canvas by using a separate sheet of paper, and also for watercolors to have lines that lie beneath the paper which can be easily felt but not interfere with the thin watercolor paint."

“All of the bottles and paint tubes in my studio are Brailled, and when mixing colors I use recipes. 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.“

“The first art shows that I did I never told anyone that I was blind. 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”

"In a way, I am glad that I became blind. This makes more sense when you stop thinking about adversity as an obstacle, and start viewing it as an experience—something that you can learn from and grow from."

Check his website:


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