Reina Newton Tefs; Naples Sun Times; June 29, 2005
"I like to paint with bright colors because they are easier to see," Janet Ray explained at a reception on June 10. Ray started painting five years ago when she noticed a painting displayed at the Visually Impaired Persons of Southwest Florida (VIP) centre. To see the painting she had to put on her 'coke-bottle' glasses and step close to the wall. The artwork inspired her to give painting a whirl because she knew that the artist who created it was legally blind, like she was.
Because she can't see things from far away, she stands close to the canvas and paints from memory. Landscapes, waterfalls and especially flowers are her favorite subjects. "I have to be organised and keep my paints separate," she explained.
VSA arts in Florida sponsored the exhibit displayed in the Naples Branch Library West Wing Gallery, and the Friends of the Library (FOL) sponsored the reception.
VSA Arts is an international non-profit organization that was founded in 1974 by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith. The organization offers resources and programs on disability, arts and culture through art exhibitions, festivals, publications, educational workshops and public awareness campaigns. VSA Arts of Florida (VSAFL) was founded in 1981. The home office is housed on the University of Southern Florida campus in Tampa.
"VSA's primary role is to promote creativity and empowerment of artists with disabilities," said Chandra Daniels, a VSA grant specialist.
Luella Bermingham started painting at age 82. She painted a landscape of Miso Carriage Ridge and a detailed scene of a plaza's fountain with water splashing over its sides in The Fountain.
Her friend Charlotte Lawhon was looking for something to do when she started painting three years ago. She used a knife with acrylic paints to create Surf's In. Some artists prefer this method because it gives them a three-dimensional tactile feel for their creations. For Sunrise at the Beach, Lawhon painted the scene with a brush for a smoother surface. These artists depended on recollection and also imagination to create their scenes.