Speaker 1 (00:00):
You know, I think when we truly love something and we really wanna do something, we'll find ways to do it.
Speaker 2 (00:11):
This is the Bold Artist podcast.
Speaker 3 (00:16):
You have answers, and you're expressing them in your art. Your art is important, and it needs to be seen
Speaker 2 (00:24):
Welcome. And let's get started with today's episode.
Speaker 2 (00:33):
Welcome back to the Bold Artist podcast. I'm pleased to be here today with our guest artist, Arnold Plasencia, who is located in Florida, sitting in an art gallery, surrounded by his artwork for those of you who can see it on YouTube. Arnold, we are so happy to have you on the show today. You have quite a unique journey in the arts and a unique story to tell. So, can you start out by introducing yourself to all of our watchers and listeners?
Speaker 1 (01:04):
Yes, absolutely. And first of all, thank you so much for having me. It's an honor to be here and be a part of this growing community of, uh, amazing artists. So, thank you. Thank you so much for that.
Speaker 2 (01:16):
Um, you are so welcome. We're thrilled to have you on the show today.
Speaker 1 (01:20):
Thank you. And so, like you mentioned, my name is Arnold Plasencia. I am The Visually Impaired Artist, um, and I live with a condition called Stargardt Disease, um, which is a form of macular degeneration. Um, what that does is it causes the cells in my macula, a, uh, basically to die off and causes central blindness and, and color blindness. And it's a, it's a progressive disease. Um, that started when, when I was a child and just has progressed over the years. And, um, and now my, my central vision is completely gone. Um, and I have a hard time seeing any color. So, um, mm. Yeah.
Speaker 2 (02:08):
And it's remarkable because you are a painter. So how, how does that even work for you, Arnold? How can you see what you're doing? What is your process?
Speaker 1 (02:20):
Um, there's a few things that kind of go into that. Uh, usually when I paint, I, you know, have to kind of set up my, my space, and I use a lot of lights, um, light kits, like for photography, I'll have, like, four set up around me and, you know, just to bring a little bit more light because I am missing a lot of light. Um, so I'll have that. I do have, like, these little tiny spots of clarity, you know, closer to my peripheral vision that I kind of use to move around the canvas. Um,
Speaker 2 (02:52):
Speaker 1 (02:53):
And I paint, you know, one brush show at a time. Um, a lot of it is there's something within me that kind of takes over, as well. You know, I kind of, you know, I've explained to my, my partner, it's like when I used to drive, when I used to have, you know, clear vision, um, you know, I'd be driving, I'd be thinking of something and, you know, 30 minutes later I'm home, and I'm like, oh my God, how did I make it home? You know, when I was, my mind was somewhere else,
Speaker 2 (03:19):
It's almost automatic pilot mode.
Speaker 1 (03:21):
Exactly. It's almost like it's almost the same thing. It's like something takes over, you know, and moves my hand. So it's, it's a little combination of, you know, of all of that. So, and I, you know, when I do finish a painting, I, you know, step back, I take a photo, I look at it. And I in shock that, you know, that I'm able to create these, these pieces.
Speaker 2 (03:40):
Yes, yes. And the pieces that I'm seeing behind you are very remarkable. And so you're, you are excelling. So, so well with the challenge of not being able to see all of what you're doing, and the reason that I asked the previous question about what your process was, because, um, back in episode 24, I know that you, you had to listen, I interviewed John Bramblitt, who is an artist who is 100% blind. Right, right, right. And he paints by feel and by touch. And what's unique about you is that you still have these, uh, places of clarity that you're still seeing, but you're using both, you're using your intuition and a little eyesight. And so.
Speaker 1 (04:29):
Speaker 2 (04:29):
It's a, it's a slightly different story, but how did John's story impact you?
Speaker 1 (04:35):
Uh, well, um, one of the things that it did for me is I've had this fear, um, you know, after my diagnosis, I fell into a really, really deep depression. And I was in that state of mind for about two years. You know, I didn't leave my house. I stayed away from family, from friends, cause I didn't want them to see that, you know. Um, and when I started painting, um, and I felt this sense of, of purpose again, and that feeling of feeling alive again, you know, I had that thing in the back of my head, knowing that this is a progressive disease, like what's gonna happen in the future> You know, if it does get to a point where I have absolutely no vision, if that happens, what is that gonna mean? You know, am I gonna fall into that same place into that same state of mind?
Speaker 1 (05:29):
Um, and this interview just opened up my eyes and, you know, made me realize that I'm, I'm gonna be okay. He managed to, you know, be able to paint, you know, after the losing in, you know, his sight completely, you know, he, um, changed the way he did things. He, you know, found new ways, you know, to be able to paint. And so that gave me hope that I, you know, that I can do the same. And I've kind of done that. I've found ways to even paint with the little vision that I have. And so that's really what it did for me is just gimme that hope and that peace of mind that everything will be fine. And, you know, I can continue painting and, um, keeping alive that, that sense of purpose.
Speaker 2 (06:16):
Yes. It warmed my heart greatly to know that the podcast spoke to you on such a deep level and such a, a level of encouragement into your soul. Uh, that is exactly what we want the Bold Artist Podcast to be.
Speaker 1 (06:32):
Speaker 2 (06:32):
And so having a guest like John, uh, speak out his story, learning to paint blind, and then, uh, your name came up in the Bold School community amongst our, uh, Bold School mentors. So some might be familiar with Axel Martinez who has also been on the show in earlier in an earlier podcast.
Speaker 1 (06:54):
I think everybody is familiar with Axel.
Speaker 2 (06:54):
Axel is well known. He is the one that Charla I have often quoted because he's the, the one who said on the podcast, 'you've got to lose the fear.'.
Speaker 1 (07:02):
Speaker 2 (07:03):
So he's famous in Bold School for saying, 'lose the fear,' when it comes to painting. Anyway, it was uh, your name that Axel mentioned to me and your story, uh, you know, came up in our conversations.
Speaker 2 (07:16):
And I knew that I just really wanted to have you on the show to share your story and also how, how it had meant a lot to you to hear John's story, because it's, to me it's so beautiful and amazing how all of our stories weave together.
Speaker 1 (07:32):
Speaker 2 (07:33):
And together it's making a beautiful picture of encouragement and, um, helping each or move forward in our journeys. And so we're so thankful that you're here and willing to share about it. So, what do you feel is next for you, Arnold, in this journey, um, regarding your eyesight and your art?
Speaker 1 (07:53):
Um, I really don't know what's next. I'm, I'm excited for, you know, what's to come. Um, actually one, one thing, one exciting new thing that, um, just happened. There was a gentleman that, uh, came to my, my opening event. Um, he is the director of art for healthcare in, at the Lee County, uh, Health Systems. Um, he came, he loved, he loved the story and, and asked if I was willing to create some pieces, um, and have him displayed in most of the hospitals around the county.
Speaker 2 (08:30):
Speaker 1 (08:30):
Um, so that's, that's in, that's incredible, you know, it's um, but beyond that, I, I really, I really don't don't know, you know?
Speaker 2 (08:41):
Yes. Well, all of us are in a state of uncertainty with never knowing what's ahead. We just do, um, our days, one step in front of the other one day at a time. And yet I know that I can sense in you that there's just hope and, um, a new kind of vision coming forward.
Speaker 1 (09:01):
Speaker 2 (09:01):
Um, the vision of the heart. And so, um, Arnold, how did you come into your art of painting? What was that journey like? And, um, what did Bold School, uh, do in that whole part of your process?
Speaker 1 (09:16):
So, um, like I mentioned earlier, I, you know, after my diagnosis, I was, and, you know, before my diagnosis, I had lost most of my central vision already, but, you know, because I didn't have an actual diagnosis and I didn't know, and nobody could find, you know, what it was. I still had that hope that you, somebody will find something and they can do some sort of transplant and, you know, fix everything. But when I got the di diagnosis, you know, I was in that really bad place. And I'm extremely lucky to have the people around me that I do. Um, my partner obviously, um, and also Axel. Axel's a very close friend. Um, I've known Axel for six years, and he's always been this, um, he's always been a teacher and a mentor since I met him before Bold School. Him and my partner kind of talked and, you know, saw that I was struggling and, you know, and were trying to find ways to kind of help me, um, during the pandemic he came across, uh, Charla and, and Bold School and learned a few things and was excited, you know, to share that with me.
Speaker 1 (10:27):
Um, and you know, about a year and a half ago, we once, um, some of the restrictions were lifted and people were able to, you know, see each other. Um, we drove to Fort Lauderdale, it's about a two and a half hour drive from where we are. Um, and we went to Axel's, and he had easels all set up in his kitchen, and he's like, we're gonna paint.
Speaker 2 (10:50):
Like most artists. Every artist I know has easels in their kitchen.
Speaker 1 (10:54):
Yeah. He was like, we're gonna paint. And I just stared at him, him and I didn't say anything. I was, you know, in my head, I was just like, how in the world am I going to paint? I can't, I can't see how does he expect me to paint? And I think he, I think the confusion was very apparent in my face because he's, he said in his, in Axel's wise words, um, don't focus on, on what you can no longer do, focus on what you still can. If you need to change the way you used to doing things, simply change them. And that really resonated with me because I have been doing just that, you know. I've been losing my sight, you know, since this childhood and I had to learn, uh, to adapt and change things. And so, you know, I sat down right next to him and picked up the, the brush and, you know, three hours later, I was in shock, in shock of what I, um, had created, you know?
Speaker 1 (11:55):
Um, and it was an overwhelming feeling of a, of joy, of, I just felt alive again, you know? I didn't, I didn't feel useless, you know, like I needed somebody to hold my hand and guide me in everything I did. This was something that I did on my own, you know, and that just, I mean, I was smiling for days and it was something I didn't wanna, you know, ever go away. I didn't want that feeling to ever go away. And so, you know, I, I continued to paint, um, you know, a few weeks later we went back to Axel's. We did another painting, you know, super about that. And, um, he actually took that painting, took a picture and sent it to Charla. You know, and kind of mentioned my story and, you know, wanted to share what I had created. Um, and from what he told me, Charla's like, he needs to be part of Bold School. We need to get him in here. And sure enough, a few days later I was, you know, I was on there taking the bootcamp classes and, and, and banging. And so, so that was my journey into, you know, getting into, into old school and, and, and, and painting.
Speaker 2 (13:11):
That's amazing. I'm so happy to hear that story because I didn't, I, I didn't know any of that. Your name to sort of appeared, and I knew, I knew that you were involved in Bold School. But what stands out to me is that I had also watched a news clip that you were on. I, I watched it on YouTube, or I had seen you post it. And you told the story of someone inviting you over and showing you how to paint, but I didn't know that that person was indeed Axel.
Speaker 1 (13:36):
That was Axel. Yes.
Speaker 2 (13:37):
And so the story's, all making a lot more sense to me. And it's, you know, it's just really overwhelming and, and makes me happy to know that just even right there in the kitchen of easels, someone can really just encourage and set another person free by handing them a paintbrush, and saying, you can do it even if you can't see all the way like that to me is just, just simply, um, what, like what a gift.
Speaker 1 (14:07):
Speaker 2 (14:07):
What a gift. And so, uh, thank you, Axel, for stepping out of your comfort zone and getting Arnold to step out of his comfort zone. I think that's what humanity is really all about, like should be about.
Speaker 1 (14:20):
Speaker 2 (14:21):
And so, yeah. So then, so your journey has really been learning to paint in, has it been the Bold School style, um, portraits and abstracting colors away from skin tone all the way along? Or what does that whole piece of learning to paint portraits look like for you?
Speaker 1 (14:39):
It, it has, has been bold. Um, you know, I, I, haven't created a whole lot of paintings, you know, there's, there's other things going on at home. And so, you know, I maybe did, you know, like eight paintings in the entire year, you know, I tried to make as much time as possible. Um, but most of the paintings, a lot of them were commissions. You know, I posted those few, uh, first two or three paintings that I did with Axle online and, you know, friends and family neighbors, you know, kind of saw them and they reach out and say, Hey, do you mind doing a painting of me and my daughter, or, you know, my dog. And, um, and they all really enjoyed and liked the, the bold colors that I was, um, that I was using, you know, the paintings that I posted. Um, and so I have, you know, I have been using, um, a lot of bold colors.
Speaker 1 (15:32):
For this particular exhibit, um, I did a little bit of both. Some, you know, I tried to, I was trying to focus more on the, on what I was trying to convey, not so much, not so much on the color. Yes, you know, I did think of color and, you know, but it was more the, the feeling, the emotion that I was trying to convey on the canvas that I was more focused on. But there's definitely pieces that, you know, I did, I did use, um, some old colors. Like I actually like this one. Um, I don't know if it's,
Speaker 2 (16:08):
I saw that on the news clip and for those listening on audio, Arnold reached back and pulled out a painting we hadn't seen yet. And it's, um, I'm gonna des attempt to describe it, but I would love Arnold to describe it to it. It's hands that are clasping, like, one, one is reaching for the other hand, and they're holding onto each other. One is in monochromatic, uh, I wanna say black and white, but I can't quite tell from what I'm looking at. And then the other is in color. And so there's just a, it's just a very dynamic piece, very gripping, no pun intended, very gripping piece. And so Arnold, could you take it away and tell us a little, like, describe for the audience a little more, because my vision, like, when I'm looking through the screen, we're, we're just on a little split screen next to each other, so I'm seeing you smaller. And so you can describe it to our listeners.
Speaker 1 (17:03):
Right? So this is, this was a moment, um, in my journey that I, I wanted to put on canvas, you know, such a special moment. Basically what it is, you know, after my partner and I left, uh, the doctor's office after my diagnosis, I really was, you know, feeling like my life was over, you know? Mm. Um, but he took my hand and he said, I got you. I will be your eyes. And it was incredible moment, you know, knowing that I wasn't alone, that I have this love and this support. Um, so it was something that I, it was that moment I wanted to capture. And so, um, this is my hand obviously, and it's, it is monochromatic it's, you know, it's gray, it's a little cooler, gray. I, you know, used a lot more of the teal than, than red to create that, that specific, uh, tone.
Speaker 1 (17:57):
And so I wanted kind of to convey that, um, voidance of life that I was feeling at that moment, you know, um, but with his, his hand, I wanted color. I wanted to, I wanted to feel alive and, you know, and full of the life that, that, that he, he has. And so that's why I used a lot of, a lot of color on this particular one. So, um, so yeah, that's, um, that was one particular photo that I did use quite a bit of color. That was a little bit more bold. It wasn't. So, um, you know, I didn't use a lot of skin tones on, so.
Speaker 2 (18:43):
Yes, for sure. I can definitely see the bold color style coming out in that piece. So, for any of you who are listening on audio, I do encourage you to hop onto Instagram at Bold Artist podcast. And we'll make sure to get that piece that you just showed, Arnold, into the carousel of your work, the art carousel that we show when, when the show airs. And so then, uh, everyone who's listening can have a look at the piece that Arnold just described, because it is indeed gripping, no pun intended. And so Arnold, as you have been going through this journey of losing your eyesight and being in the state of uncertainty, um, has there been anything that you've learned or discovered that you would want to share with other artists who are either, maybe in the same situation that you are, or who have always feared losing their sight?
Speaker 2 (19:43):
And one of the reasons I ask that is because this whole topic, um, that led John Bramblitt onto the show a few weeks ago, came to light by Charla herself, sharing on a podcast, which I'm not sure if you heard that episode, but she shared on a podcast with me that one of her fears in life as an artist was to lose her sight.
Speaker 1 (20:05):
Speaker 2 (20:06):
And it led us to discover John. And meanwhile, you were behind the scenes coming into Bold School. And so all of these lives and stories are being woven together. Um, and while it's been happening, we've been hearing from the audience, some feedback saying that they too have feared losing their eyesight. And it's something that I think visual artists fear. And yet you've been losing your sight all, all along and discovered you're a visual artist. So, I feel that you might have something to share with others who are going through it, or fear going through it to help liberate them from fear.
Speaker 1 (20:51):
Yeah. I definitely, I can relate. Um, you know it is a scary, scary thing. Um, but as I mentioned from watching, um, John's video, you know, I think when we truly love something and we really wanna do something, we'll find ways to do it. We'll adapt. We'll we'll, we'll just, we'll just do it. You know, I had, you know, I had painted one or two paintings maybe like 20 years ago, and they were horrible. They were, you know, because I was going by what I was seeing. I was, you know, that's basically it. And, um, and I didn't think they were any good. So, I pushed that aside and moved on. But I think, um, I don't know. It's like, almost, like I said, it's something within me that kind of took over, um, that allowed me, um, to create these beautiful pieces. And I think we just all have to be hopeful and, and trust that, that, that might, you know, we'll, we'll find a way. You'll, you'll find a way to, to do it. Um, if you, if you really love loved what you,
Speaker 2 (22:08):
If you want to.
Speaker 1 (22:09):
If you want to. Correct.
Speaker 2 (22:10):
Yeah. Yes. I like what you said there, about how as humans, we are resilient and adaptable. And if we want to, we will find a way. And throughout, uh, the Bold Artist Podcast I hear from guests. Oh, like time and time again, in different words, they will say that nothing can hold you back when you want to.
Speaker 1 (22:32):
Speaker 2 (22:32):
And when it comes in terms of painting of your artistry, if you want to, you will push through the barriers.
Speaker 1 (22:40):
Speaker 2 (22:40):
And, and that can be whether you are blind, impaired, or if your obstacles are simply inside you.
Speaker 1 (22:50):
Speaker 2 (22:51):
If you just have blockages of fear or lack of confidence, 'cuz those can be really real and difficult as well.
Speaker 1 (22:57):
Speaker 2 (22:58):
And so it's amazing how resilient we are. And I feel that when you're speaking to, um, just being impaired with eyesight, um, we can still speak into those artists who feel impaired in other ways, too. Where their fear holds them back, as I mentioned. Or, um, in last week's episode, we talked about people pleasing. That can be a real stumbling block, too. Um, fearing what people think of our work.
Speaker 1 (23:27):
Speaker 2 (23:27):
And so all of these barriers, it's such, so beautiful to bring out the conversation and, and say, and have someone like yourself, who's really going through pushing through obstacles, say, you can do this. If you wanna do this, you can do this.
Speaker 1 (23:46):
Yeah. You can do it. And do it.
Speaker 2 (23:50):
Yes. And like Axel says, lose the fear, lose the fear.
Speaker 1 (23:52):
Lose the fear. Absolutely.
Speaker 1 (23:54):
Speaker 2 (23:55):
Yes. I think that'll come up every time that Axel's name comes up.
Speaker 1 (24:00):
Speaker 2 (24:01):
Lose the fear. So in closing, Arnold, is there anything else that you would like to share, um, in terms of painting or any other, um, words of advice on, uh, matters of the heart and pushing forward in our art? Is there anything that's, that's still in you to share with us today?
Speaker 1 (24:22):
Um, I can't really think of anything else.
Speaker 2 (24:28):
Speaker 1 (24:29):
Other than just do what you love, you know. Um, do what makes you happy? We kind of owe it to ourselves to, to do the things that are gonna make us, you know, better versions of ourselves. So, so find what that is and, and simply do it.
Speaker 2 (24:45):
Simply do it. I love that. I can't thank you enough for being here on the Bold Artist podcast today, Arnold. Your life and story is making a difference. We are so happy that you're pushing through these obstacles and sharing your art with the world. We wish you all the best and hope to follow your journey as it continues to unfold.
Speaker 1 (25:07):
Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
Speaker 2 (25:11):
And until next time, all of our watchers and listeners, you can find us on the Bold Artist podcast on Instagram, that's @boldartistpodcast. You can find us on the Bold School YouTube channel. Send us a message, leave a comment. You can find Arnold's links in the show notes. So, do check out his work, give him a follow. And until next time, keep creating.