Art had always been John Bramblitt's creative outlet of choice. When he went blind in his mid-20s due to epileptic seizures, he became depressed.
But being a college student at the time, he felt he had to become self-sufficient — so he started re-learning basic skills like reading, writing, and traveling to class.
"If I’m able to leave my apartment and know exactly where I am on the street and not get hit by a car or bump into too many people, surely I could use these same techniques to move across the canvas using raised landmarks," he said.
"With a smart dog and a smartphone, you can pretty much do anything," Bramblitt said.
At first, Bramblitt tried drawing. Then he graduated to painting.
Over the years, he's worked on different techniques to master painting, with textures as a guide.
He mixes paint himself so he can control when it will dry, and even choose to use lines that are raised at first, but later flatten.
As for color, Bramblitt mixes his own shades, using paint thinner to change the texture of different colors. He also measures different colors precisely to calculate just how much of each he'd need to make a certain hue. All of his bottles are labeled in Braille.
And when the Denton, Texas, resident messes up a brush stroke, he doesn't sweat it.
Since losing his vision, Bramblitt said he's become more attuned to making sure his paintings are accurate — not just in look, but in feel.
"The art needs to reflect more than just the image of the person," he said.
For example, Bramblitt explains, when someone walks into a room, everybody sees her same features, but internalizes her appearance in a different way, based on individual impressions and experiences.
When he could see, he said he didn't focus enough on capturing the essence of a person beyond physical attributes.