Using swirling vibrant colors in a way that reminds one of Van Gogh’s skies, artist John Bramblitt has created quite the portfolio. Everything he paints, from iconic figures to landscapes, is full of so much kinetic energy that it almost becomes tangible. His inarguable talent becomes even more impressive once you find out that Bramblitt is blind.
Bramblitt was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was a child and slowly, over the course of many years, lost his eyesight. Now, at 42-years-old, he has been blind for 12 years. The amazing part, aside from the fact that he creates these stunning images by touch alone, is that Bramblitt never painted before losing his sight.
Before going blind, the artist graduated with honors from the University of North Texas in Denton, and had plans to become a creative writing teacher. When he lost his sight, he fell into depression and began disconnecting from everyone around him. One day he decided to try painting and found that it was a tactile way he could release the anger and frustration he was keeping pent up. His newfound sensitivity to touch allows him to interact with the medium in ways others can't—he literally feels color.
Marilyn and Kerouac
By drawing on his personal memories, the artist is able to capture famous faces (like Jack Kerouac and Marilyn Monroe), and through haptic visualization, he can even paint people he’d never seen prior to losing his sight—like his wife and son.
“A person is made up of skin and bones, lines and curves […], but [they are] also made up of ideas, emotions, impressions, experiences, memories, and raw gut feelings. If your mother walked into a room everyone there would see someone different,” explains Bramblitt. “To you she is a collection of all of the birthdays, encouragements, good and bad times that you have shared through the years. For everyone else she is a collection of impressions—the shape and color of her hair tells one person one thing, and something else to another. Her height, color, and the way that she carries herself along with a million other details fills in an image made up of memory and conjecture, and it all happens in the span of a moment.”
Boat on the Coast
Before he starts painting, Bramblitt pictures what he wants to do and then sketches it out on a canvas with a special fabric paint that leaves a raised line. By feeling the different textures and consistencies of colored paint (the tubes have Braille labels), he then mixes the shades he wants and fills in the gaps. Bramblitt uses a fast-drying acrylic paint, which allows for his method of tactile painting without smearing the image.
You can buy Bramblitt’s work on his website, with prices ranging from $150 for a limited-edition print to just $10 for a regular unframed print.
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