I often get asked how I paint if I'm blind, and I know the emphasis is on the "if". Well the answer to that question is that I'm legally blind, I have hardly any sight, I can't read printed text, I can't see faces, but I do have a blurry area of sight which I use as best I can.
But yesterday I was asked these much more specific questions in response to my painting of Animal Portraits.
How do you paint this?
Is it using a digital art programme?
Do you use certain “digital” brushes? I’m not sure how it works as never done digital art before.
And with your sight how do you go about creating your art pieces like these?
Here is my attempt at answering these questions.
I use the app procreate on my iPad. It has hundreds of brushes but for this I just used one - a simple pencil line brush. The painting is made of thousands of small lines from that brush.
I start by getting the shape right with a black line, that's the outline and the main features. I use this as a guide for the painting before removing it at the end.
I set up a palette with the colours I will need for the painting. To do that I magnify the photo until I can see each individual pixel (just about) and that helps me figure out what colours are in the image. So this might look like shades of brown but there is a lot of pink and green in it.
Then I start painting and again I magnify the screen using the magnification of the app and the magnification of the accessibility settings until the iPad screen shows about 5 brush strokes at a time. That means that about a tenth of the eye would fill the screen.
I am constantly swapping between the magnified photo and the magnified painting to make sure I'm getting the colours and shapes right. I start with the eyes, I think if they are right then everything flows from there.
Then it's just a case of tiny line by tiny line, checking every 5 lines or so. If I get carried away then invariably I have to erase sections so I constantly check.
It's amazing to me that this process creates a painting which looks just like the photo, if I've been patient enough.
I started using this way of painting after reading about pointillism and impressionism - paintings by George Seurat, Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh are made up of thousands of tiny strokes of paint using the actual individual colours they could see in the detail of the world around them. It occurred to me that since I have to look at the world and paint with huge magnification that this technique of line by line, or pixel by pixel, painting could actually work for me. And it seems to.
Here are some paintings I've created over the last few months using this technique.
Architecture of Reading
Through the Desert
From Darkness to Light
And finally.... This painting of Queen Elizabeth II for her Platinum Jubilee which I sent to her (and received a letter of thanks in return) and which was included in the special platinum jubilee edition of Grayson's Art Club Series 3 on Channel 4.
This article is a follow on from the article I wrote last year showing how much I magnify my iPad to paint. How I create art as a blind woman.
As ever, if you have any questions then please don't hesitate to ask