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Blind Painter Displays Skills at Blanton Elementary

First graders in Emily Valenta’s art classroom couldn’t believe their eyes. The eager students gazed in amazement. Colorful paintings lined the front of the room while paper plates with different paint colors and textures sat along the back counter. The paintings on display were the creation of the guest speaker and the source of wonderment on this day. With so many young faces captivated by their classroom visitor, you might think the speaker for the day was a magician. Or possibly a clown. After all, six-year olds aren’t exactly known for their attention spans. No, the guest on this day was an artist. But an artist unlike any these students had ever seen before. The artist’s name is John Bramblitt and he is legally blind. 


Bramblitt is currently rated as the top blind painter in the world, and he’s the only blind muralist to have murals on display in both New York and in Dallas. On this day, he spent hours displaying his craft to students at Blanton Elementary. Students wondered aloud how a blind person could create such elaborate paintings. He showed the class a few of his favorite creations and gave them a few tips in how he applies his craft. Bramblitt even gave the class a chance to see his service dog in action. But the main highlight of the day was the opportunbity for these first-graders to paint and be creative themselves. 


Bramblitt used a variety of fun and engaging exercises to show students how he uses his other senses to help him create his paintings. First, students placed their hands inside of wooden boxes to try and determine what was inside of them based solely on the feel of the object. Then, students were instructed to pass around small mason jars filled with cotton balls. Each cotton ball had a unique scent, which the students had to guess by smell. From there, Bramblitt led them on an exercise to paint a picture themselves while being blindfolded. Unable to see themselves, students were then given four paint colors, all with just a slight variation in texture, in order for them to feel which color they were working with at any given time. The rest was left to the student’s imagination. The exercise left students with fun drawings to take home and share but it also left them a small token of appreciation of life for those with physical disabilities.


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