Blind artist teaches local kids to use senses to paint

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BOTETOURT COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Local kids learn they can appreciate art without vision at a workshop led by a blind artist.

Dozens of children took part in an art workshop held at Harmony Farms in Botetourt County on Friday.

Artist John Bramblitt led the class. Bramblitt lost his sight in 2001. It was only then did he begin to paint.

He taught himself using raised lines to make a map around his canvas. Bramblitt distinguishes between colors by their textures.

He taught kids how to do the same for part of Friday's workshop.

"It is so much fun. Art is one of the few things that a kid can do when they come up with their own ideas and figure out a way to make their ideas come alive and actually do it, Bramblitt said. "They have full license to do whatever they want. So they usually get pretty excited."

Each child practiced with a flower drawing created with raised lines and used paints mixed with flour, bird seed and sand to simulate various textures.

"It just helps build their confidence really and a better understanding of what art actually is and that art is communication and it's emotions and it's expression," Bramblitt said. "It's ideas from one person to another and it doesn't matter if that person has a disability or that person has another way of thinking."

Bramblitt's workshops help beginning and professional artists and also include adaptive techniques for people with disabilities.

"The more of our senses, the more of ourselves that we put into art the more we get out of it. The great thing about children are open minds they're willing to try anything," he said.

Bramblitt was in Roanoke last year for the annual Talent Challenge for Charity where he painted in front of a live audience during the fundraiser. The piece was later auctioned at the event.

This year's fundraiser will take place November 12 at the Hotel Roanoke to benefit New Vision which helps people will visual impairments and Angels of Assisi, a low-cost community pet clinic. WSLS 10 Storm Team meteorologists Jeff Haniewich, Kristina Montuori, Alan Auglis and Jonathan Kegges will emcee the event.

You can find ticket information here: