Sunday, September 19, 2010

Art Therapy - You can still paint even if you can't see

Meet my father-in-law, Grampy. He has had Macular Degeneration for about 30 years. That means he started to lose his vision in his early 40's and can no longer do the things he once could, like drive, for example. Imagine if your vision started to go away very rapidly and you could no longer do all of the things that require eye vision. Every summer we visit my in-laws. I use to drive my father-in-law around to antique shops. He would pick up a piece and have me look at it and tell him what the writing said and I would answer his questions about an antique he was looking at. Now with the economy and increasing loss of his sight, he is not in the antique business anymore.

Every summer I always encourage Grampy to take clay sculpture classes or pottery classes so he can use his hands and creativity. It never happens. I guess because I had just done our little impromptu painting workshop with my nieces and nephews, I talked Grampy into painting right at that moment! Of course, he resisted. He said he had no talent and his painting would be ugly. I told him who cares, we will paint on a paper plate and then throw it right in the garbage so nobody sees it. I told him that we were going to paint just for the experience, not for the end result.

I myself learned so much about painting. I would ask him, do you feel how much water is on the brush? Do you feel how the brush feels on the paper with this amount of water? Can you feel how much paint is on your brush? Then he would ask me questions like, "Were is green, I want to use green. How do I make it darker? I like how that looks, what color is that? How do I make it darker?" Grampy can see through his peripheral vision, but, I don't know how well.

Here he is holding up his favorite of his three paintings. Look at that smile on his face, especially the one where he is painting. I haven't seen him smile in a long time. Grampy had some great ideas for his first time painting. He said, why can't each color have its own tray/bowl so that the colors are not so close together (talking about my paint palette). I told him that there are artists that do that and I happen to have a book of one of those artists on the table.

I hope you find this story encouraging and that you may pick up a brush and paint on a paper plate one day, too. P.s. Grampy didn't throw his paintings away. I hope Grampy keeps painting.

To find out more about Macular Degeneration or to get a free screening, visit the Retina Foundation of the Southwest.


  1. very encouraging! thanks for sharing and good luck to both of you!

  2. Tell Grampy that just because his eyesight is going doesn't mean he has to stop living. Just find a new way of living. books on tape, try crochet, even take a braille class. Where there is a will, there is a way. Also he could take a tape recorder and tell his memories for the next generations to come. Good luck and God bless you grampy.

  3. What a moving story. We could all learn a lot from someone like him :0)

  4. Thank you for this post. It’s really heart touching & at the same time encouraging. My best regards to both of you.

  5. Thank you for your sweet comments on Grampy. I can't wait to show him this blog and your response. Hopefully, this will encourage him to continue to paint.

  6. Liana, this a comment on an old post but this one touched my heart. Hooray for your Grampy and I hope he continues with the painting.


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave your thoughts. I love hearing from you!