Up to date artwork

Graeme Turner
Many people with vision impairment use visual arts to express themselves. Limited vision is not a barrier to creating art. Artwork by people with vision impairment is displayed around the world. Vision Australia has published a calendar featuring artwork for 20 years. The calendar highlights the talents of the artists. Artist Dorothy Riddell loves painting. She says it has become very important in her life. Artist Doug Sheers encourages other people to try painting for themselves.
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Graeme Turner on 13/04/2011
A paint palette surrounded by many different colours of paint tubes and some fine brushes

Many people with a vision impairment use visual arts to express themselves.

If you see someone at an easel bringing beautiful images with brush and paint to life, you might think they need full sight. But this is not necessarily the case. Many people with a vision impairment use visual arts to express themselves.

Recognition growing

Recognition for artists with vision impairment is growing around the world. For example, BlindArt in the United Kingdom holds exhibitions and a permanent art collection. Exhibitions typically contain paintings, sculptures, installations and other artworks designed to engage all the senses.

In the United States, the Blind Artist's Society provides a website for artists to display their work online. National Exhibits by Blind Artists has also been raising awareness of the work of blind and visually impaired artists for over 35 years.

In Melbourne, a group of artists has been quietly working away at Vision Australia for about 20 years. Their efforts have been so well received that their art has been published in a calendar. The calendar highlights the talent of the artists. It also helps combat stereotypes about the capabilities of people with vision impairment.

Painting watercolours

Dorothy Riddell has been painting watercolours for over 10 years. Dorothy has glaucoma and some macula degeneration. She first gained the bug for painting after being inspired by her aunt before World War II. But supplies were hard to find back then. Dorothy gave up painting for 50 years.

When her sight declined she was encouraged to join an art group at the Melbourne suburb of Kooyong. The group of between eight and 14 people met every Monday. If it hadn't been for that, life would have been terribly lonely, Dorothy says.

Enriches her life

Dorothy says painting greatly enriches her life. The calendar also provides Dorothy with motivation to work.

Dorothy's watercolours are mostly flowers and animals. Her painting on the most recent calendar is a hibiscus. Dorothy says cats are also very popular. I do mostly cats by request, she says. She does not charge for her work. I just do it because I like doing it.

Tickled pink

Artist Doug Sheers lost vision in one eye as a boy after a stone hit him in the eye. A stroke later in life left him blind in the other eye.
Doug had always been interested in art. Around 10 years ago he was recommended to submit a painting for inclusion in the Vision Australia calendar. His work has since been accepted three times.

I was tickled pink, says Doug. The calendar is widely distributed across Australia. One woman at his day group told Doug she had seen his work in New South Wales.

Go for it

Doug uses acrylic paints to depict landscapes and he has a particular interest in boats. He says producing art greatly benefited his life. It enhances me because I've got something to look forward to.

Doug encourages others with vision impairment to try painting for themselves. I'd say go for it, he says. You don't know until you succeed.

These talented painters have used art to help the wider community see afresh.

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