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The Face of Legal Blindness Post New Entry

Lights Out

Posted by Yvonne Felix on December 7, 2014 at 12:35 PM


When I was in my second year of art school, I had a very distinct experience that has remained one of my most cherished memories. It was a prolific moment that allowed me to understand what it must be like to rely on your vision as a sighted artist.


Every Thursday our class had a life drawing lesson. This was my favorite activity as it was based on techical skill but there was always room for interpretation and artistic process. Organic forms provided animation: breathing patterns and a glowing brightness always seemed to illuminate from every model and I found it effortless to capture that basic beauty of the human form.


We, as students, were invited to make suggestions to the format of the class to enhance and bring diversity to the model or environment. I had made the suggestion of turning the lights off and having a spot luight over the subject. The idea was to create high contrast with dramaric lighting. I had discovered this technique when I invited my sister to my studio so that I could have more time to capture a pose. When drawing, recoginizing shape, form, and tone, were done by setting my palette based on contrast. I picked colours based on a gradation of tones, unrecognizable through the use of a colour by name but the tones truest to the the subject and its environment.



The drawings turned out well. They were done with chalk on black paper and you can tell that the lighting allowed me to see my sister in a great level of contrast.


When the Thursday morning came and the time for my suggestion to be used for the morning class, my professor, John, helped me put the pose together and we placed the light directly overhead. The model was my favorite for that day and I was very excited to share this new perception with my classmates. As the lights were turned off, there was a churning of sound and movement. It spun around me like a massive storm reaching a crescendo as the class grew louder. They were all saying the same thing over and over again: "I can't see my palette.” chimed in rounds like a rolling storm front. "Turn on the lights! Turn on the lights!"


The lights came on and John walked over to me and shruged his shoulders. "Sorry."


It was as simple as that. To me the sorry was dismissive. What does that even mean? Sorry no one can put themselves in my shoes? Or even, “sorry” seemed to mean - you get your vision back because it was inconvenient to change your perspective.


I did not voice these thoughts and simply knew that I could not expect that anyone would understand. That was okay, that was the way of the world and I was a part of that world.


However, it did set me on the path I travel today. Creating a form of art education that would be accessible and limitless in process and discipline became my goal.


And It"s all worked out. :)

Categories: The Process of An Artist

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