John Bramblitt lost his vision in 2001 when he was 30 years old due to complications from epilepsy. His initial responses were exactly what you might expect: sadness, frustration, and anger. He continued taking classes, and eventually graduated with a degree in English. But he became depressed. He had always loved to draw and write, and now blindness had robbed him of his creative outlets.
John recounts, "One of my greatest fears is being trapped and being labeled." Rebelling against the unfairness of the situation, he decided to pursue a creative activity that nobody would expect or believe him capable of. He would take up a purely visual art: painting.
He began to spend as long as 16 hours a day in front of a canvas, in addition to attending classes at college. For Bramblitt, becoming a painter was an act of pure defiance towards the random cruelty of fate. But he now credits it for having helped him ultimately to accept his blindness, and move forward. When he was working on a canvas, the intense focus required seemed to make his anger fade away.
Since John can't see colors, he has developed a process whereby he paints by touch. According to the artist, the colors feel different to him: white is thick and black is a little runny, so when he needs gray, he mixes the two until the texture is right.
His art has been sold in over twenty countries and he has appeared internationally in print, TV, and radio. His work has received much recognition, including the "Most Inspirational Video of 2008" from YouTube and three Presidential Service Awards for his innovative art workshops.
As well as receiving public attention for his painting, in 2005 John began to hold art workshops for people with disabilities, to show them what they were capable of.
Today he and his wife and son travel around the country, hosting and teaching workshops for blind and sighted children, adults and artists. His once daily seizures have drastically reduced in number and severity… something he attributes to the serenity that art has brought him.
He also gives art classes for large groups of children, blindfolding them to let them experience art as he does… and leaving them with the clear message that creativity accepts no limitations.
Still looking to break through the preconceptions that hold blind people back, John Bramblitt took his first flying lesson this summer.
Clearly, this is someone who refuses to let anything restrict him.