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Blind artist teaches local veterans a new approach to painting

05 Mar Blind artist teaches local veterans a new approach to painting

eterans at Colchester Recovery Centre recently got a visit from a registered blind artist who has developed a unique way of painting.

Annie Fennymore, from Walton-on-the Naze in Essex, was just 28 years old when she started having blurry vision. When she was told that she would have no vision by the age of 40 Annie refused to treat it as an ending; instead embracing the change as a new beginning.

“I don’t see any point in sitting around and moaning about the cards I’ve been dealt in life. Let’s just move on and work with it. I’ve walked through glass doors and fallen down steps, but I just pick myself back up again. You just have to look on the bright side of life and learn to laugh at yourself. I’ve had a few really funny moments too. Like when I took my guide dog to the supermarket and a fellow shopper was very concerned that she was bleeding. They erupted into fits of giggles when I told them that I must have spilt paint on her but couldn’t tell as I was blind”.

Annie has developed her own form of tactile art; using acrylic paints and raised mediums to mark out her planned subject. This gives her the shape she needs to fill in the area with paints using her fingers. She only uses a brush for backgrounds and larger canvases. Annie showed the veterans some of the materials she uses, which includes blue tack to mark out the shapes and plastering grout to fill out the area. She has also been known to use kitchen paper, coffee filters, cupcake cases and bubble wrap in her work to make various items such as roses and boulders.

In 2011 she won a highly commended award for her portrait of her then Guide Dog Amber in the Helen Keller International Art Award. The inspirational part is that the judges weren’t even aware that she was blind: “All of my art is an interpretation of what I think it looks like and not what is actually looks like in reality. I’m doing this art for my own enjoyment; it’s just a bonus if it turns out to be good! It’s for the public to decide how they interpret the painting. For me, it’s not about fine art but about form and shape. It’s about feeling the paints and making the most out of those senses I do have”.

The veterans also received a demonstration of the technology which enables her to keep on painting. One device, which is shaped like a pen, reads special barcodes on tubes of paint verbally describing the colour and texture. Another device can be held to any item and it will read out its colour. It has caused her some embarrassing moments though, like when she was in a clothes shop and the security guard nearly arrested her as they thought it was a taser!