BY: JESSICA BEUKER
John Bramblitt was only 30 years old when he lost his eyesight. He suffered from epilepsy since the age of two and as he grew older his seizures became more frequent and more violent. At first his vision would go blurry, but then later would clear up. Over time, and with each epileptic episode, his vision got worse until eventually he could no longer see at all. It was after he went blind that he decided to become a painter.
Most of Bramblitt’s paintings are inspired by experiences he had before he went blind. However he has also been able to produce life-like portraits of people he’s never seen – like his wife and son – by feeling their face with his fingers.
According to My Modern Met, Bramblitt uses a special kind of fabric paint with raised edges. After he forms the picture in his mind, he uses the fabric paint to outline the painting, which he can then feel with his fingers, and in turn helps him find his way around the canvas. Colours can be identified by textures – white, for example has toothpaste like texture, while black is runny. Haptic visualization, or “seeing through touch,” allows him to “see” his subjects before painting their portrait.
Bramblitt currently works as a consultant for museums in developing programs that are designed to include everyone, regardless of ability or disability. Of his own disability, Bramblitt told My Modern Met, “when you stop thinking about adversity as an obstacle, and start viewing it as an experience— [that’s] something that you can learn from and grow from.”