Sightseeing. A periodic tour of CVI news, views and events.

Trying to Paint Again After Vision Loss

Empish painting wine glassA few months ago I decided to try a new venture by delving into the art world of painting. I had purchased two coupons that allowed me to take an individual painting class. One coupon focused on painting glass and the other was painting ceramic pottery. Since losing my vision15 years ago, I had not done anything artistic and decided it was time to try again. Before losing my sight I was on the path of a new career in the fashion industry. I was taking fashion design and merchandising classes after work. I was working with watercolor and acrylic paints and drawing with charcoal and pencils. But as my vision decreased and it became harder and harder to see my canvas, colors and still models; I withdrew from school. I gave away all my art supplies to an artsy friend and moved on from that career path. Since that time I had not attempted to do anything art related until I came across these opportunities.

I took the glass painting class first. It was held in the evening at the Seven Arts Center in East Point. The class included one-on-one instruction, all painting materials and a wine glass. I shared with my instructor that I was blind and that I needed more verbal information than her sighted students. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she had worked with a visually impaired student before and felt very comfortable working with me.

After donning my painting apron, I washed the wine glass with rubbing alcohol and a cloth to remove all dirt and grime. Next I made my color selections and learned which bowls held which colors. I also touched and felt my brushes so that I could feel the variations in the bristles. Next I chose my self-adhesive stencils. There were several pages to choose from and the instructor described each one. Some were phrases and words, others were flowers and butterflies. Some were small and others were big. I had to be very careful handling the stencils because they were paper thin. I ended up choosing a large butterfly for the top and flowers for the base.

Empish holding wine glass and standing with instructorOnce I got myself organized, the first thing was to paint the whole base of the wine glass with a water brush. I found this challenging because it was hard determining how much paint was on the tip of the brush and when I needed to reapply more paint. My instructor assisted me with this part. After the base paint dried I placed the small stencils on top for the flowers, which were in a different color. I used a sponge type brush using the corner of the brush and gently dabbing the paint on the area of the stencil. Once the paint dried, I repeated the same steps with the large butterfly on the upper round part of the wine glass. Since this stencil was a lot larger than the ones I used on the base it was a little tricky. I very gently place the stencil down on the glass. The stencil was fragile and could rip easily. So I slowly placed it down in sections going from one part of the stencil to the other and laid down the edges last.

During the whole painting process I used my visual memories and my fingers on my left hand as a guide to determine where to place the paint. I positioned them around the boarder of the stencil. This helped me to determine the perimeter and how far to move around on the stencil. Once everything dried, my instructor placed my glass in a decorative gift bag.

Empish painting jewelry boxMy next class was painting ceramic pottery at That Pottery Place Studio in Decatur. This class was a little easier since I had already painted before but instead of working with an instructor I brought a sighted friend to assist me. Again I picked out my colors and the paint brushes. I also had to select a piece of unfinished pottery. I chose bright bold paints and a round jewelry box for my pottery piece. This time instead of using self-adhesive stencils I used a rubber stamp. I chose letters, flowers and butterflies. I first painted the entire jewelry box; both inside and out. Then my sighted friend assisted with drying by using a hair dryer to speed up the process. Next, my friend assisted with applying the paint on the rubber stamp. We worked together to determine the distance between letters and the other objects. Once all of this was completed we left the jewelry box on the table to dry. Later the instructor would glaze and fire. About a week later I was called to come by and pick up my finished piece.

Both of these painting projects were a lot of fun for me. It did require some mentalEmpished finished jewelry box concentration and some sighted help but I was glad that I tried art again. So, did you paint or do other artistic projects before losing vision? If so, have you tried art again? What has your experience been like? If you have not painted before would you consider it? Share your comments below.