Speaker 1 (00:00):
I started to realize that losing my eyesight, it didn't make me different than everyone else. It made me just like everyone else.
Speaker 2 (00:06):
This is the Bold Artist podcast.
Speaker 3 (00:11):
You have answers, and you're expressing them in your art. Your art is important, and it needs to be seen.
Speaker 2 (00:19):
Welcome. And let's get started with today's episode. Welcome to the Bold Artist podcast. If I seem starstruck today, it's because the artist we're gonna be speaking to is a big deal in my world. To me, he's a hero, and a celebrity in his own, right? I'd like to welcome John Bramblitt to the show. He lives the word bold that we use in our Bold Artist slogan. And you are about to find out why. So, let's welcome together, John Bramblit of Denton, Texas, USA. John, thank you so much for being here today.
Speaker 1 (01:01):
Thank you so much for having me. I've I've been looking forward to this, and I love, I love the very title of the show. Bold color. That's just perfect.
Speaker 2 (01:08):
Yes. The Bold Artist podcast. We're all about being bold and being artists who have bold hearts and wholehearted. And you demonstrate that to us. Can you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself? Because to me, John, you put the word bold into bold artist. You live it out.
Speaker 1 (01:29):
Oh. Oh, thanks.
Speaker 2 (01:29):
And so, can you tell us, tell us about yourself?
Speaker 1 (01:33):
Oh, sure. I'm, I'm a painter. I'm, I'm sitting in my studio. So if it's a mess, I, I, I, I apologize, but I'm surrounded by canvases, and paints, and all kinds of fun things, all the stuff I spend, I spend my days with. But, um, I, I am, I'm a studio artist, but I also do murals. I actually became the first blind person to do murals in the world. And then, um, and then I've been a col I've been named a col a cultural ambassador for the United States where they, they send me to other places to, to talk about art and stuff. But, um, but the thing I think that people notice first about my artwork is the color. And then the, the second thing is, um, is, is the fact that I'm blind, and, um, and that I do visual art that's, um, which is kind of a, a funny thing. It's an oxymoron. I'm a non-visual visual artist.
Speaker 2 (02:21):
You have blown me away, just hearing, uh, the story of your life in your book at which you, which you just informed me is an outdated book because you, you wanna write a new one. Which I really hope you do. But, uh, this, this book, which you feel is outdated, but it totally transformed my life and heart by reading your story, uh, through the book you share about your journey out of darkness and into light, but it was a heart journey because you had lost your sight. Was it back in 2000 or 2001 that you lost your sight, John?
Speaker 1 (02:57):
Yeah. Yeah. I, I lost, I lost the last, the last bit of it in, in 2001. And, um, um, but I, I was fortunate in that whenever I lost my eyesight, where, where I was, and I, I was a student at university. And I was at a university that was very progressive. So, um, so even though my eyesight was going, I thought I had to leave school. I thought everything was over. I was so angry. I was so depressed. And the people around me, my friends, my professors, my family were so supportive. And they were like, you know, you, you can do whatever you want. You can be whatever you want. And to be honest, I, I thought they were all so sweet to just lie to me like that. Just, just to try me feel better because I didn't believe any of it.
Speaker 1 (03:41):
I didn't see any, I didn't see any way that I'd be able to move forward from that. Um, but that was just the depression and the anger talking. But thank goodness for art, because if it hadn't been for art being in my life, it, it honestly it saved my life. It, it, it gave me purpose. It gave me something to focus on. I thought everything good was out of my life. I didn't say how any change could be made. And the wonderful thing about art is that every time you lift a paintbrush, every time you're working on a piece of clay or a canvas, you're making changes. And you know, and it's a positive sort of, you know, even if it's small, you are making a positive change every time that you do that. So it's hard to stay in a dark place, you know, whenever you have something like that in your life,
Speaker 2 (04:24):
I love what you just said there. That every time you're making art, you're making changes. That right there is so powerful, John. And in your, in your book, you, you talk about, uh, the progression that you went through in losing your sight and then becoming a visual artist. What's really unique about your story is that you were not a visual artist when you had sight. You did draw, and you were very creative, but your art and the painting aspect of your art was something you developed after losing your sight. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Because I know it's just, it's baffling to us that, that, that was, that that all came to you after losing your sight.
Speaker 1 (05:10):
I, I know I, I, I went the wrong way to get into it, to have an art career. It's funny from the, but for some reason in my brain, like drawing makes sense. Like, I think I could draw before I could walk. And, but I never thought of making a career as an artist. It was just something that I did every day, and I loved to draw. Um, I, I took every class. I could, I've always been a nerd, even from when I was little. I read every book I could. And so I learned all about the different mediums of drawing, how to, um, I learned how to draft, how to do, how to do the blueprints for houses, how to do all these different things. But it wasn't, it was never my ideas, never my intention to be an artist. It was just something that I did.
Speaker 1 (05:48):
Like, it was just made sense to me. Um, but I loved to write. I loved to write, and I would write every day. And, and before I lost my eyesight, it was, it was like, everything was a 180 in a way. Like I didn't share my writing really. I, I, that, that was really private. Drawing and stuff ddn't really matter. I drew all the time, and I, I would do a stack of drawings. They'd get too big and I'd just throw, throw 'em away. It didn't, you know, they didn't really, it was just something that, that I did. I loved it, but, and I drew every day. But part of that though, was cuz growing up, I was, um, had a lot of health problems. I was born with severe epilepsy, had kidney problems, had a kidney remove by the time I was seven, had some other neurological sort of problems.
Speaker 1 (06:26):
And I was just in and outta hospitals a lot. And the wonderful thing about drawing was that, you know, if I was having a bad day, it, it, it made that day better. It gave me something else to focus I on. And if I was having a good day, it gave me something, you know, it was a great way to celebrate a day. So, art was just my way of dealing with things. And you know, it was something very personal to me. Um, and it, it just made every day better. So. I drew every day. But, um, but it was just, I don't know. It's funny, like, you know, it's funny you think that something you did every day like that maybe you think, well, I'm gonna make a career on that, but I always thought that just sounds crazy. Like, there's no way you can make a career in art. That just sounds silly. When I was a kid, I, I don't know. I was very conservative, I guess, think thinking in that way. But, um...
Speaker 2 (07:11):
So you had this background of drawing when you had your sight. And then after losing your sight, I, I, I read in the book how you had this moment, it's almost like a moment that came to you where you realized you could still see, but not with your eyes. And you drew something, and realized, I could still see. And maybe if what I drew was raised up off of the surface, I could feel it. And that's where the idea is, am I describing this, uh, correctly, John? And that's where the idea to paint came to you because paint had a texture?
Speaker 1 (07:49):
Yeah. I, you know what, I, I was really afraid whenever I, I learned that I, I was losing my eyesight. I was gonna lose all of it, that I was afraid that I was gonna forget what color looked like and everything. I, I didn't understand anything about blindness. I had no idea. The only thing I knew was what you learned from TV shows and movies, which is a terrible place to learn about this. You have people that, um, go blind and suddenly it's like, it's like they've been hit in the head and, and they don't, they don't, they don't even know their own family or so, you know, it's, it's just silly what, what you see on TV. For a lot of things. It's getting better actually. But, um, but whenever, um, but you start learning how to do everything in new ways whenever you lose your eyesight. Like, how to, how to, how to eat without getting food all over yourself, usually. How to cook.
Speaker 1 (08:33):
You know, it's incredible how many hot, pokey, sharp things are in the kitchen. And I love to cook. For my family, I'm the cook. But you have to learn completely new ways of dealing with everything. How to pour water in a cup, and how to pour boiling water in a cup, you know, and how to sew on a button. Um, but the main thing is how to travel, how to actually get around independently. Because at first, you know, I, I had always been a very independent person, did whatever I want went wherever I want. And then suddenly when I was a student at university and every time I tried to leave the, my apartment, I would always end up with cuts and scrapes and bruises, you know, because just getting around without seeing is very hard. And the wonderful thing, though, is that there's all these different techniques that you can, and it's called orientation to mobility training.
Speaker 1 (09:17):
So, I started learning all this, and that's where you learn how to use a white cane. And then later, even like a guide dog, like, like, like, like, like my guide dog Eagle, which is snoring over here. But she, but you learn how to do all this. And, and it was after about a year of learning how to use a cane and starting to learn how to travel independently, that I thought, my goodness, like, like me leaving my apartment and going to the university, going down a, um, a sidewalk traveling down was a lot like just traveling a straight line. Like you can feel the sidewalk, you can feel where trees are. You can feel where, um, you know, a fire hydrant is. And every time you find something like that, it's like a landmark. So, you know exactly where you are. And then where two streets cross, you know exactly where in the city you are. There's only one place where two streets cross, and then there you are.
Speaker 1 (10:04):
And I thought, my goodness, this is so much like the lines going across a canvas. So, if I could actually navigate a city and be able to go find a coffee shop, be able to order coffee, be able to go to a classroom, be able to, to do all these things, and be able to do it without seeing, and with cars going around, and people, and not knocking over too many people. You know, you knock over a few, but what are you gonna do? Um, you can actually travel, and you can do this, that surely you could get, you could get across something that's much simpler, like a canvas, if you use the same ideas. So, I started to learn how to draw by using lines that I could touch and feel. And it was very simple at first, but, you know, I remember the first time that I, I made a drawing, and I stood up all, well, I stood up, I stayed up all night, and I was feeling this little statue.
Speaker 1 (10:51):
And I was just trying to draw this little statue of a Buddha that I had, and just trying, you know, to make lines and then just crumpling up the paper. But I was making these little lines I could touch and feel. And then finally, by the end, the morning, I'd had this little drawing of this Buddha, and it was awful. It was so terrible. It was so misshapen, and crumpled, and yucky. And it was just like, nobody else would've looked at that and they were like, oh, that's a drawing of a little Buddha. That that's great. But I was so excited. Though, because it had some shape to it. And the wonderful thing about art is that if you can do it a little bit, then you can do it a lot. Like you're always just adding to it. You're adding to it. Every mistake is, is another step towards getting to where you want to be.
Speaker 1 (11:31):
And I knew that. So, the fact that I had a terrible drawing, meant that one day I might have a slightly less terrible drawing.
Speaker 2 (11:38):
That's such an amazing attitude.
Speaker 1 (11:40):
Well, I got so excited and honestly, I felt like I had nothing to lose because I had lost everything. Like I, I, I was in college, and you go to school because you have this idea, you have hope for the future. And I had this ideas that I wanted to be a professor. I wanted to teach. I wanted to do all these things. Suddenly, all that my mind was gone. And the only thing that I had in my mind was that if I worked really, really hard, if I was able to get through my classes, maybe I wouldn't be a burden on my family. And not that my family would ever think that I was a burden. It's just, I wanted to be, you know, I wanted to do something. I wanted to be able to be, stay independent and all this. And so, I had a lot of free time. You know, 'cause I, there wasn't a whole lot, and art gave me something to focus on. And I'm so sorry. I rambled off. I,
Speaker 2 (12:26):
No, I love...
Speaker 1 (12:27):
I get so excited when I talk about art.
Speaker 2 (12:28):
I love the rambles, John. Um, yeah.
Speaker 1 (12:32):
I'm so kind. I appreciate that.
Speaker 2 (12:33):
No rambling is, is perfect. We wanna hear it all. So, you had that moment where you learned to raise up your drawings, so you could feel them. I think you said you used fabric paint and you raised them up.
Speaker 1 (12:47):
I did at first.
Speaker 2 (12:47):
And then, then it came to you that if you could feel the outlines that you could begin to paint within those parameters. And can you tell me about when you discovered that color has feel? And what's really interesting is that most of our audience are painters. They're bold color artists or bold artists, bold hearted artists, and probably not many of us have stopped to consider that color has feel. And so, I believe you're gonna take off a really big lid for us today to open our eyes, and the eyes of our heart to seeing and feeling color differently. How did you discover that John?
Speaker 1 (13:33):
You know, I, um, I, I started painting with, with oil paint, and the reason that I started with oils, I paint, I use acrylics now, but the reason I started with oils is because every color is made from, from, from, from different things. So, and that gives the colors just a little bit of a different viscosity, a different texture. So, it's not that I can just touch like a shirt and know, oh, that's a red shirt or a blue shirt. It's the paint, you know, that has a different feeling to it, by the way it's made. And, um, and also the diff, different brands are made in different ways. So maybe like a titanium white and this brand will feel a certain way. And then another brand it'll feel different. So, I would mix and match brands and stuff, by the way they felt. But later on though, uh, because the birth, the birth of my son, I started getting a little worried about out. There's a lot of bad things in some oil paints and the different cleaners.
Speaker 2 (14:18):
Yes. I was wondering that actually I was wondering, I, how, how does John feel about touching the paint when there are capsules and minerals in them?
Speaker 1 (14:27):
John, John doesn't mind that. But, but, but I had, I had to had a big worry about putting it on the baby because you know, when I first started painting, um, I didn't realize how hard oil paint was to wash off your hands. So, um, I had a little white dog, and I would wash my hands.
Speaker 2 (14:42):
He wasn't white.
Speaker 1 (14:43):
Oh yeah. She didn't stay white for long. I would like, little Anne would come over, and I'd love her on her. And, and my friends would come over and ask, well, why is Anne all pink and purple and green? And I didn't realize that I wasn't, I didn't get all the oil paint off my hands. And, and I could just imagine my, my baby, whenever we, we had, you know, our son late years later, um, you know, him turning orange and pink and purple.
Speaker 1 (15:04):
So, I started looking into different kinds of paint, and I started, um, working with, with acrylics. And that changed everything for me. Because oil paints takes so long to dry, but also with acrylics, there's so many different mediums you can add to the paint.
Speaker 2 (15:18):
Speaker 1 (15:19):
So that, it's just incredible. Like, I, I can mix a paint, so like, I, I can mix a white. So, it felt like to, um, um, oil paint. Or, or really thick, I can make it feel like toothpaste. I can mix a black so it was runny like a oil. Another paint, so that it was, you know, it was like clay almost, you know, so you could carve on it.
Speaker 2 (15:38):
You're speaking my language now.
Speaker 1 (15:39):
Oh my goodness. It's, it's just, it opened up the entire world to me. And, um, so I started being able to, to change the way these different colors felt and it gave me a way to be able to work with color. Um, so now it's like today, the way that I work with color is, is, is, is one way is, is by using the texture. So, if I make a white feel like toothpaste, and a black feel like oil, if I want a gray halfway between the two, I can mix the, the viscosity of it, the texture halfway between that black and white. I know the color is halfway there too. So it gives me a very precise way to control that we have over 200 touch receptors on the pad of each finger. And they're really, really good at being able to tell the looseness or of something. And the texture of it. Another way is just through, um, like a recipe. Like, you know, you know, you know, you add seven parts of this five parts of that. You're always gonna end up with a certain color. It's very precise. It's not as much fun. And I think is with the texture, the texture is so much more fun 'cuz you get to get your hands very in.
Speaker 2 (16:37):
Yeah. And uh, do you ever have to ask someone for, to, to lend their eye to the values that you're mixing or have you learned to use touch to control your values, your shadows in light, as well?
Speaker 1 (16:50):
You know, um, I, I, I, I don't have to ask anybody for that anymore. Um, when I first started, I didn't ask people then either, but I kept my art as a secret. Even my first shows, I didn't tell people I was blind. And um, so I would do the, I would have the show, the shows did well, and I would go there and I'd have my cane. I used a cane at the time and people would sometimes ask, oh, where's the artist. And I'd go like, oh, I'm the artist. You know, if you have a question, and they go, ah, funny, you know, you're a funny guy, and then they'd walk off and I go, well...
Speaker 2 (17:19):
I remember reading that in the book. And, and you mentioned a story where you, you told an onlooker, like you were at a show, and you told the onlooker that you were the artist and the onlooker realized that you were blind and they disappeared and you thought, where did they go? But they had gone back to look at your art again, because they were so amazed that you could do that being blind. I, I loved that story. Do you remember that?
Speaker 1 (17:46):
I, I do. I do. It's funny whenever, especially at first, um, whenever somebody would find out that you're, you're a blind artist, they, they, they would go back and try to see the blindness in the paintings and, um. Which I totally get because, um, the reason that I paint the way that I paint, um, I, you know, I'm trying to understand perception as well and trying to understand how it is that we actually understand this world. And losing my eyesight completely changed the way that I thought about art, and, and the way that I make art. And the, you know, and so I, I totally get that. And I think it's, it's a, it's awesome because it, it opens up a conversation. It's a dialogue again.
Speaker 2 (18:21):
It sure does. You know, you know, when I, when I look at your work, I, I do not see blindness. I see someone who can see. And what I felt all the way through reading your story was that you, in, in the ability to see with your heart, you see even better than I do. And, and.
Speaker 1 (18:44):
Oh. thank you.
Speaker 2 (18:44):
You've taught us John, that there's another way to see. What does the phrase seeing with your heart mean to you? What, what does that mean to you as an artist?
Speaker 1 (18:55):
You know, um, there's, there's something that I think is kind of interesting. I do a lot of teaching. I work with museums all over the country, and I work with different schools. And whenever I go into, um, uh, like a, let's say if I'm at a college somewhere and I, and I'm gonna teach an art class and, and, um, and the students will come in and almost all the universities will have a drawing lab where they'll have a room that has all these, these wonderful statues of different things. And, and they're all like in different poses, like Greek poses and this, and I always go up and I, and I, and I'll touch the statues and, and, and they always have a little live layer of dust on them. And I think that's so interesting because artists were, were these out of the box thinkers.
Speaker 1 (19:35):
Um, and yet we, we, you know, most artists will, will get into a rut where, you know, seeing is believing, seeing is understanding. And so all these students for, you know, semester after semester will file in and they'll just look at the statues. They won't engage their other senses. They won't go over and, and touch them and feel, you know, what, what the, you know, what the muscles feel like with the, with the hair, you know, the, the, it's just incredible. Like we, I think we focus too much on one sense and true perception. You know what I mean? Like really what we're seeing is in our, is in our minds. It's, I think it's interesting to think that you're never really seeing with your eyes. It's always your brain. It's always your mind. And we kind of know that. But your, your, your, your eyes are, it's just an organ.
Speaker 1 (20:21):
That's taking in a light and only for the first little bit of it. And then it's turned into electricity and a chemical response that goes to your brain. And there's about 13 different areas in your brain that will turn that into a, into an image. But what's interesting is that your imagination, when you're dreaming, when you're imagining something, you're still using about 11 areas of those of the brain. The only part that's different is those first two little areas. So, whatever you're asleep and you're dreaming, and it seems like the dream is real, and maybe you see your mother or your father, and it's like, you're there with them. To your brain, that image is just as real as if you were actually looking at it. And that's why you can wake up from a dream and go like, oh my goodness, I was there.
Speaker 2 (21:01):
Speaker 1 (21:02):
Or if you imagine something and, you know, you smell cooking come the kitchen, and suddenly you're back in your grandmother's kitchen. And, you know, it's like, you're there, it's a visceral sort of thing. Our brain it's understanding. It's so deep. And I think that whenever we just think about it being eyesight, we're really cutting ourselves short, you know, we're, we're missing out on a lot of it. So, I think whenever you think about perception and about really understanding and seeing with your heart, you're coming from a deeper sort of understanding. It's like, if, if we had a, if we had a family member walk into the room, everybody in that room would, would see the, the, that family member of yours. They would see the clothes that they're wearing and their hair. They would understand how they're walking, how they're carrying themselves. They would hear the speech. And even though everybody is taking in the same information, everybody has a different feeling about what that person might be like. You know, you know, are they friendly? Are they, are they off putting, um, you know, do they wanna walk over there? Do they wanna hang out with them? Um, everybody has a different sort of feeling. And I think that's true vision.
Speaker 2 (22:04):
I love that.
Speaker 1 (22:04):
That feeling. That combination of emotion and your, your perception. Sorry for the long answer again.
Speaker 2 (22:10):
No, I love it. And there's just so much to soak in, and you're opening a new understanding of perception being different than vision. And, uh, I had shared a couple of times at the dinner table about you, and my whole family loves you as well. Not just, oh, not just all of us at Bold School, but the whole family. And I was telling them about the time you walked into a tree, because your mind had, like, displayed the whole street to you from previous memories, and you forgot you were, you know, not able to see for a few minutes and you put down your cane and just walked into a tree. And I, and that story, it, it mattered to me because I realized how much information comes from our minds, imagining, and, and perceiving and remembering, and that, that it can override our vision and that as we tap into creating now, now, if I liken that to creating and artistry, we can override what we see with our eyes by all that we perceive and imagine and feel. And to me, that's just, that's so rich, and deep, and meaningful. And I thank you very much for opening my eyes to that. And, and here on the Bold Artist podcast, opening our eyes to that.
Speaker 1 (23:36):
Oh my goodness. Thanks. That, that was shocking to me. That was the first time that I, after I lost my eyesight whenever, um, I was starting to learn how to use a cane, the orientation mobility. And, and, and if you, if you've been sighted, the first thing you have to do is put on a sleep mask over your eyes, because you don't realize how much, how much of what you're seeing is actually just imagination. You know? And, and I thought, I thought, my goodness like that, that was the first step for me to understand that there's a lot more going on in your brain, when it comes to perception, than just the eyes.
Speaker 2 (24:09):
Absolutely. And if I may, John, I just wanted to read here, um, just a little excerpt from the very beginning opening flap of your book. Um, it says shouting in the dark is the story of Bramblitt's life, his struggles with epilepsy, his race against time, as he prepares for complete vision loss, and his determination to find a way out of the engulfing shadows of blindness. And ultimately it is the heartwarming story of how he rekindles his capacity for joy, hope, and relationships through art. Full of raw emotion, honesty and humor, Bramblitt challenges readers to rethink their perceptions of blindness and what it means to truly see. And one of the words that jumped out at me when I read that was the word hope. And in the beginning of the podcast, you talked about the despair and depression and how art has given you hope. And I know in the world we live in today and difficult, devastating circumstances. There's a lot of people, not just artists, but a lot of artists who are experiencing despair and hopelessness. And I was hoping that you might be able to speak to that today, John, because I do believe that you're a man and an artist who understands hope.
Speaker 1 (25:38):
Oh my goodness. You know, whenever I first lost my eyesight, I was so angry and I was depressed and I didn't even understand why. I had no idea why. And, and it was because there, there wasn't a future anymore. I, I didn't see a future out there. And, and I felt very isolated. I felt very alone. Even though I had a family that loved me, I had friends around me, none, none of that changed, but on the inside though, it, it changed quite a bit. And I didn't realize, I mean, I felt hollow inside. And I didn't realize that hope was something that actually had, actually had a physical presence. I mean, you can, when it's gone, you, you can, you don't notice it when it's there so much, but when it's gone, you can tell that you're empty. And, and it's whenever through, through artwork and being able to, you know, whenever you're painting, all you're thinking about it is that one brush stroke, the paint on the end of the brush.
Speaker 1 (26:30):
And you're living in the moment and going from moment to moment like that, you're not thinking about any of the bad things. You're not worried about the future. You're not thinking about any of that. You're in that moment. And in that, I started to build a little bit of hope because I started to be able to be a lot calmer with it, you know? And one of the things that I noticed whenever I lost my eyesight, I thought it made me different than everyone else. I, I felt very separated and very alone. And after I started showing, um, there's stories being written about, about my artwork, and then I was contacted by some charities and nonprofits, they were like, oh, we heard that you're visually impaired. Can you, can you come and talk to our clients? Can you do workshops? You know, we have soldiers with PTSD.
Speaker 1 (27:13):
We have children with autism. We have, we have, we have, we have people with Alzheimer's, um, all these different things. And I started to travel around and, and talk with different people. And I felt like I was talking to my best friends. I felt like I was talking to people that even though we were dealing with different things, we all just understood each other. And we really got each other. And I started to realize that losing my eyesight, it didn't make me different than everyone else. It made me just like everyone else, all of us. And it doesn't have to be a disability. All of us have something in our lives that is just bigger than us. It feels bigger. We're not sure what we're gonna do with it. It could be the death of a loved one. You know, it could be, you know, your, your career.
Speaker 1 (27:52):
It could be all kinds of things, but it's just bigger than what you feel you can handle. And you start to lose hope from that. And so I, I think me going through that, it made me understand hope a little bit more. How much, how important it is, and how vital it is, but also that we all have, that we all struggle with it in that we're not alone. And, and the people that I know struggle with it the most are the artists. You know, artists generally are the nicest people you will ever meet, except with themselves. They're, they're often the hardest on themselves. Like, you know, they're like, oh my gosh, they're just so, so mean to themselves. Like if they make a mistake on a, on a painting or this or that or artwork, um, but it's other people there's, they're the most generous spirit.
Speaker 1 (28:36):
And I think that we've gotta remember to be kind to ourselves, we've gotta be forgiving. And that hope, and that, here's the main thing: If I could give one bit of advice to anybody out there is to fail. Fail often, get out there and just fail, fail, fail. Every, you know, as you know, with every piece of art that you do, you're constantly failing on it until you get that one, until finally it's right. Get that one stroke that, right. That one, that one piece that's right. And, um, that's, that's what gives me hope, I think. Is that every, every time I fail, I'm still moving forward. Every, every time that I do something okay, I'm moving forward. And, and that, I know that I'm not in it alone. I don't.
Speaker 2 (29:15):
Wow. Thank you for speaking, hope into our hearts. And, and, uh, I know that for all of us artists who are hard on ourselves, so, um, particular and perfectionistic with ourselves, I have learned personally that that does come because I'm, I'm looking with my eyes and not my heart. I'm judging from the outside and not, um, feeling with the inside. And so your, your conversation today, John, it, it moves us into a deeper direction and reminding us to not judge ourselves or the world by what we see, but rather by what we know in our hearts and sense in our hearts. And so, that is really a life changing message. I wanted to, before we close, just move back into, um, talking a little bit more about your process, because you did begin sharing with us about your process of feeling the paint and knowing, knowing what your, the values and how you're painting by touch and texture. And I was wondering if you might be able to just share with us bold artists, uh, an inside picture into your process, like how would you work through a piece without being able to see it?
Speaker 1 (30:41):
Oh my goodness. The very first thing that I do is that I, I, I work the painting out in my mind first. Um, I, I have to be able to touch the painting and, um, and the paints that I work with in the process I have, everything dries extremely quickly. And I have, I have heat guns and all that, but if I have additives that I put in the paint, so that it dries almost as fast as I put on the canvas. So, that helps. But the first thing though, was always in, in my mind, like I just started a painting last night here and I'll share it's terrible, but that's okay. That's one thing I I'm, I'm sharing with you guys. You guys are artists, so, you know, so I'm gonna, I'm gonna show you this drawing.
Speaker 2 (31:16):
We know, we know the process. Okay.
Speaker 1 (31:18):
So I'm gonna put this, um, I don't in front of the canvas, so
Speaker 2 (31:22):
I, yeah, we can see it. It's a work in progress.
Speaker 1 (31:25):
It's a landscape. Yeah. It's an 18, 18 by 24 inch. Um, it's, there's trees in the background, but if you'll notice in the painting, there's all these little black lines. Um, all those black lines, it's a paint that I mix up that has a medium in with it that feels kind of tacky. It's almost, it's like a rubber cement. So every, every one of those lines feels a little bit different. The colored lines are a little slicker. So like the green is almost like a, um, an enamel sort of feeling. So, I have to have different... So, when I'm, I'm going over the painting, um, every line that I have there, which is an under painting, it's just me sketching out, trying to figure out what the heck I'm an to do on this painting, you know, and right. Is it gonna work out? I don't know, we'll, we'll find out. But, but every line though has a different texture to it. Um, when I first started all the lines had to be giant thick lines because I wasn't very good at touching. This was like, when I first learned brail, everything felt like the letter a, like, there was no way. I thought it's impossible to tell all these, all these little dots, what?
Speaker 2 (32:26):
Yeah. You're reading a book. A, a, a, a.
Speaker 1 (32:27):
I was like, ahhhhh! This is like, everybody's just yelling. And, um, but, but over time though, you start to get better at that, you know, it's like anything. So, at first, all the lines had to be giant, thick lines. Over time I could make them thinner, and thinner. And thinner. And then finally it got to the point where they just had to feel different. I could have a rough canvas that over that rough canvas, I could have some really slick lines. I could have some, some, some like tacky lines, you know, just, just, just mix it up. But the main thing though, is to understand if you're, if you're a sighted artist you're used to using your eyes to understand where you are on a canvas and where you've been now, if you're a person who's blind, you're gonna use your sense of touch to understand where you are on a canvas and where you've been, or in a room or anything.
Speaker 1 (33:07):
You always use your sense of touch to understand the world around you. So, what I do is I just make sure that the, what I use on my canvas gives me enough information. So I have enough landmarks to fill enough information in there to, to be able to, to navigate and understand what I'm putting down. 'Cause when you first start thinking about painting without vision, um, it's a misnomer really, really you're just painting without using your eyeballs, you know, your eyes. So, I'm still using vision. But instead of using my eyes to understand where the mark is, I'm using my hands, my fingertips to feel where the mark is. And then in my mind, I'm, I'm holding that image, and I'm building it. So does that make sense at all, or?
Speaker 2 (33:44):
Oh, absolutely. And when you held up the painting there and you have the trees and the couple walking, what amazes me, John, is that you haven't seen that in a reference image, and yet you're creating this in image for us to behold yet you've never seen it. Now, where are you getting, um, I mean, 'cuz you've been painting for a long time now, so you've, you've painted countless paintings. Is it getting easier to imagine what you're painting or, or do you now search and grasp for new ideas?
Speaker 1 (34:19):
You know, what's funny it's um, when I, whenever I, it, that's hard to explain. It's, you know, um, there's paintings in my studio, which I, I don't know if you can see or not. I don't know what's behind me. Um, but there's old paintings and of like a faces and, and it might be an exploded view like of a nose and then an eye. And that's all I could fit in the painting at that time. And so from me that, that, that was as detailed as I could get. There was, there was no blending, there was no shading, there was none of that. So, at the time that that's as much as I could perceive. And, and I, and I, I felt like I was just doing amazing. Now today. I, I, I can, I can feel somebody's face, and I can understand, I, I have different ways of doing that. And I can draw with much, much, much more detail and much more color. And I have shading and blending. Now, if I, you know, so to me now that seems like, you know, it's much better. But if I flash forward, you know, maybe 10 years in the future, what I'm doing today may seem very, you know, like very basic and rudimentary. So, that's the wonderful thing about art is that every time you, you, you create, every time that you spend time in your studio, you're pushing what you do a little bit further.
Speaker 2 (35:25):
Yes. Pushing the boundaries.
Speaker 1 (35:26):
Yeah. And it's always cutting edge, 'cuz it's always, you know, you're always working at the limit of what you can do. And that's one of the things that's so exciting for, for me, at least I, I know when I first started painting was 'cuz I was very angry and I was depressed and it helped me. And that's why I painted. I still paint for those exact same reasons today. And they still help me the same amount. You know? I, I, I, I'm happier, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm, you know, I'm a very happy person, and all.
Speaker 2 (35:51):
Speaker 1 (35:51):
And, and it, it, thanks to the artwork, you know, every day I have my therapy. And I paint every day. And I usually paint eight to 10 to 12 hours every day, seven days a week. Um, my studio is in my home. We're about to open another one, um, a gallery, which will be interesting.
Speaker 1 (36:08):
Um, but my family come in here. I have couches around here. We hang out. My son will watch stuff on painting or he'll watch stuff, and I'll listen to it. I don't know. It's um, um, for me, painting is just my life. I, I, I dream at night. When I dream, I'm dreaming of paintings. Um, when I wake up, I live in a very, I always thought about blindness being a dark world, but for me, it's a very tech technocolor, crazy world. Whenever I hear music, I see color. Um, I'm constantly thinking about things that are around me, and, uh, I don't know. It's hard to explain. It sounds like a Dr. Seuss sort of world.
Speaker 2 (36:43):
You're doing wonderful explaining it.
Speaker 1 (36:47):
Oh, thank you.
Speaker 2 (36:48):
You're doing wonderful explaining it. I, I fully comprehend and, and just have this, just this wonderful sense of, of who you are, and all that you see with your heart. And I wanna thank you for sharing it with the world, and for being bold enough and brave enough to begin painting. And such vulnerability when we link or when we think that we link, um, visual eyesight to visual arts. And yet you've been there to, to expose the, that doesn't have to be. We can paint with our hearts, we can paint through what we perceive and feel. And, and I just deeply appreciate you leading us, John, in showing us what's possible that we don't you to depend on our eyes and what we see.
Speaker 1 (37:42):
Oh, well, thank you so much. And if we, if we ever, if, if I ever had the chance to, to meet, to meet you in person, I would love to, to, to, to, to, to put a blindfold on you and have, and, and show you the way that I paint. I, I do, I do workshops, um, all over in museums where you blindfold people. And it's so funny. I would, I would love, I love to, to, to do that with you. But it's funny where when, um, the workshops I do with the people who are sighted -- 99% of the workshops I do are with people that are sighted. And, um. And it's always funny. It's just like a few minutes in people, you know, first they'll say, I don't see how in the world you paint. And then I show them, you know, we, we put the blindfold on, and we have the paints where I'm mixed up and drawings that I've made. And a few minutes in there, it's almost invariably, oh, I get it. You know, cause they can touch the drawing. They can feel it. But, um, but that'd be so much fun. I would love to do that one day.
Speaker 2 (38:31):
Well, I'd love to do that in person, but if we were not able to meet up in person, I would even take that challenge and do it from a distance virtually and, and give it a shot. I, I understand to a certain degree, all of how you process and feel because I come from a sculpting background, and I rely heavily on my sense of touch for sculpting. And um, and, and I actually try to translate that into my painting. I, I feel that I'm stronger in sculpting than painting. And so I'm always trying to move my, that ability to cross over mediums that way. And I, I feel like you've opened a, opened the lid up for me a little and, and shown me some other way as I could approach it. And so that's exciting for just for me as an artist, and I'm sure for all the listeners and watchers of the Bold Artist podcast. So, in closing, before we, uh, sign out here, John, would you give us a quick snapshot of what life in the, in the life of what a day in the life of John Bramblitt looks like right now. You said you have a home studio, you're opening a gallery, but what is like what's life like right now, if people go and, and get your book, Shouting in the Dark, My Journey Back to Light, and it leaves off quite a number of years ago. I just wanna tell them where you're at now.
Speaker 1 (39:53):
Yeah. It's, what's a little different with, with COVID. I, I used to fly about 2, 2, 3 times a month going, going to different shows and things. So, now a lot of the teaching, a lot of that is done through zoom. So, you know, um, so, so I'm doing that. I'm starting to, to travel a little bit more, but I usually wake up about, about somewhere between six and 8:00 AM. Um, and then I'll, I'll, I'll make coffee, and I'll, I'll, I'll, I'll feed I'll feed my, my, my guide dog. Um, well we feed, I feed her first, and then I make coffee.
Speaker 2 (40:22):
And you said her name is, her name is.
Speaker 1 (40:24):
Speaker 2 (40:25):
Speaker 1 (40:26):
The, like, like, like, like the bird. And you don't, you, you don't name the guide dogs. You don't get them until they're about two and a half years old.
Speaker 2 (40:33):
Speaker 1 (40:33):
Um, she is a sweetheart. She is she's my second guide dog. All guide dogs are brilliant. My, my first guide dog, Echo, um, she was actually put in the animal hall of fame. She was, she traveled so much.
Speaker 2 (40:43):
See, I know echo from the book. Echo's in the book.
Speaker 1 (40:46):
Oh yeah. Oh My goodness. I miss Echo. She passed away last year.
Speaker 2 (40:48):
I didn't know about Eagle. So, um, that's
Speaker 1 (40:52):
You would love Eagle. Eagle is a lover. She is just a sweetheart. She's, she's just the sweetest dog. But, and then I'll, I'll come into the studio, and I'll, and I'll I'll paint. Um, and then my son, um, right, right now he's homeschooled. And, um, so usually about, about three days a week, I do lessons with him. So, he'll come in.
New Speaker (41:09):
Speaker 1 (41:09):
And I put all the, the, I put the paintings away, 'cuz it's all attention on him. And we'll, and ill I'll do, I'll do a couple lessons, and we'll...
Speaker 2 (41:16):
And how old is he?
Speaker 1 (41:17):
He, he is 13 years old.
Speaker 2 (41:20):
Speaker 1 (41:21):
And, um, and, and he has just,
Speaker 2 (41:23):
It's a good age.
Speaker 1 (41:23):
Yeah, he's he's he's he's so he's such a sweetheart. And um, so we'll do that. And then he'll leave, and then, um, I might make us lunch. And then I'll I'll paint. And then I'll generally paint until about six o'clock.
Speaker 1 (41:35):
Um, and then I then I'll make dinner for the family, and then we'll, we'll eat dinner. Maybe we'll watch a show or something or we'll, we'll play a game. Right, right now we're really in, into board games and stuff. So we'll, we'll play some games, and then I'll paint until maybe midnight, one, two o'clock in the morning. Wow. And then it, and then it just sort of slips, you know. But also during the time that I'm painting, my wife, who is the, the nicest, most amazing person you could ever meet, she's my best friend. And we, we we're, we're in this together, all this stuff, she, she's so much smarter than I am. And she, um, handles a lot of the, like, like the speaking things that I do and all, all the, all the business sides of it. She, she worked at the, um, university for years as a director. Left that. And then she started doing the art stuff with me. And, um, so it's just a family affair, and we're, we kind of hang out all day and, and, um, they're very understanding about my obsession with painting and, um. Which is brilliant, you know? That's awesome.
Speaker 2 (42:31):
Well, your wife's name is Jackie, correct?
Speaker 1 (42:32):
Speaker 2 (42:35):
And Jackie was in your book, and when you met her, she was painting.
Speaker 1 (42:40):
Yeah. She only painted for a very short amount of time. And it was just, it was amazing that like, thank goodness she was painting during that time because I, you know, it, it was a way that I don't know, we, we connected over there.
Speaker 2 (42:51):
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I've, I've wondered that since reading the book. I wondered if Jackie still paints. And I, I thought, wouldn't it be neat one day if John and Jackie did a collab painting together. That that could be fun.
Speaker 1 (43:03):
Oh you, know, one of the wonderful things, like, I do murals, and, um, I painted a 737, I've done four story murals. We've done all these things.
Speaker 2 (43:11):
Speaker 1 (43:11):
Um, the only kind of painting that she does is, is, is with me on the murals. And when it first started because a, a visually person, visually impaired person, never done a mural before. And I didn't realize that when I was doing the first one on for world sight day and, um, and I was doing it and we had an international film crew there, and they were like, Hey, by the way, did, did you know that a blind person's never done a mural? And I was like, no, I didn't know that. That's interesting. So, uh, um, but, um, but it started from that. And then in, you know, in my studio, nobody helps me with my painting.
Speaker 1 (43:42):
Nobody, I don't ask people. It's, what's the use of that? What's the fun of that? You know, I mean, art is about your ideas and your expression. Why give the fun part of that away to someone else? So, you know, in my studio, I, I get to have all the fun doing all this. But on the, on the walls though. So, if I'm doing a four story mural, and I might be on a, on a lift, you know, going in different parts of the wall, um, I have a radio and then I have, I have actually a canvas that I did of the painting. And then down on the ground, my wife is, is operating the crane and she has like a digital copy of it. And I can ask her and say like, all right, okay. I can feel where the tree is. And I can feel on the wall where I painted where the, the, that is, but where where's this other tree, she was like, oh, it's 10 feet away on your right.
Speaker 1 (44:24):
You know, about five feet ahead. I'm like, okay, okay. I got it. I got it. And then it worked from that. So, um, to her actually coming in and putting like some paint on the wall at times. And, um, she's the only person I've really paint painted with. And the only time we do it is on murals. We just did an 80 foot mural for a city. And it was so much fun because we got to do it together. I've never painted with someone before and yet to do that with your best friend.
Speaker 2 (44:48):
Speaker 1 (44:48):
And we just clicked. She understands my art so much, you know, that I can say, oh, you know, I wanna do this. I wanna do that over there. So, if you could take that color, and add that there, and she'll do it, and I'll go feel it. I'll go like, that's brilliant. That's perfect. You know, it's just, I don't know. Sorry. I got off, I think.
Speaker 2 (45:02):
No, it's no, I love it. It's amazing. I actually, up here, um, in, in my area, I know another couple who paint murals together. And I've seen their or teamwork. And, and I know exactly what you mean that it's, it's, I'm sure an amazing experience to do that with your best friend. And it's such a big project. I would think you would need an assistant no matter what.
New Speaker (45:23):
Yeah it's, it's...
Speaker 2 (45:23):
Really big undertaking. So yeah.
Speaker 1 (45:25):
It's, nuty. Yeah, yeah.
Speaker 2 (45:27):
I'm so happy.
New Speaker (45:28):
I'm about to do a hospital. That's gonna be fun though.
Speaker 2 (45:32):
Oh, wow. Well, I hope to see that on social media. And I wanted to let all of our watchers and listeners know that you can find all of John's links in our show notes. You can connect with him on social media, his website. And I do wanna encourage you again, to order the book and to, um, wait for John's new book that I really hope he's gonna write. So, we'll all be waiting for the new book, but meanwhile, you will definitely experience a rich, um, a rich heart opening kind of experience from Shouting in the Dark, My Journey Back into Light. I, I didn't have a dry eye through, through the whole book. It was just really impactful. And.
Speaker 1 (46:16):
Thank you so much.
Speaker 2 (46:18):
Yes. Well, we can't thank you enough for, for making the time for us here at the Bold Artist podcast and being on the show, John, you have just truly opened our hearts to a whole new way of seeing,, and to see our art with our hearts and with our perception. And it's just such a valuable gift that you're putting out into the world. So thank you.
Speaker 1 (46:41):
Thank you so much for, for letting me be on here. I appreciate that. I feel so great. It was so wonderful to, to have a chat with you. And I can't wait to get back to painting. I don't know. I feel so good after this, this conversation. I wanna put some of that onto the canvas.
Speaker 2 (46:55):
Yeah. You just take all this wonderful conversation and pour it out onto that canvas. And, um, I, I'm so glad that it has inspired you and to be the amazing artist that you are, that, that this would, that this show and experience would inspire you. And we can't wait to see what unfolds for your life and your gallery and all that's in store for you. So keep being who you are, the bold artist that you are. Um, we are just so thrilled to know you and hear your heart, John Bramblitt.
Speaker 1 (47:26):
Thank you so much.