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This Artist Started Painting Gorgeous Art After He Went Blind

John Bramblitt uses textures to guide him stroke by stroke.

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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.

"I had always used art to deal with problems in my life," Bramblitt, 41, told BuzzFeed News. "I didn’t have it for a year when I needed it most."
John Bramblitt

"I had always used art to deal with problems in my life," Bramblitt, 41, told BuzzFeed News. "I didn’t have it for a year when I needed it most."

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.

John Bramblitt

"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.

John Bramblitt

"With a smart dog and a smartphone, you can pretty much do anything," Bramblitt said.

This is a portrait of his guide dog, Echo. When possible, he feels the subject's face to help get a sense of the features he needs to paint.
John Bramblitt

This is a portrait of his guide dog, Echo. When possible, he feels the subject's face to help get a sense of the features he needs to paint.

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.

Instead, he said gets actively excited about the learning opportunity an error presents.
John Bramblitt

Instead, he said gets actively excited about the learning opportunity an error presents.

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.

John Bramblitt
John Bramblitt

"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.

Bramblitt claims on his website his work has been sold in more than 20 countries.

John Bramblitt

One common theme in his artwork is music.

John Bramblitt

"Whenever I hear music, I see color," Bramblitt said. "It’s just inundated with color and the walls are just dripping with it. I try to capture the music in the painting."

John Bramblitt

When he's not painting and showing his work, Bramblitt enjoys giving free workshops to kids.

"When I first started, I didn’t think anyone would ever see anything I painted. The first couple of shows I did, I didn’t tell people I was blind," he said. "It's just a huge blessing to connect with people."Bramblitt also fields a lot of emails from parents of kids with disabilities. He encourages them as a way of passing on the support he is grateful to have received when he was struggling with his own loss of vision.
John Bramblitt

"When I first started, I didn’t think anyone would ever see anything I painted. The first couple of shows I did, I didn’t tell people I was blind," he said. "It's just a huge blessing to connect with people."

Bramblitt also fields a lot of emails from parents of kids with disabilities. He encourages them as a way of passing on the support he is grateful to have received when he was struggling with his own loss of vision.

His philosophy is simple: "Who cares what you can’t do in art? Care about what you can do."

John Bramblitt
John Bramblitt

He added, "Now it’s 2015 and I’m still epileptic and I’m still blind, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life."

John Bramblitt

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