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Blind Artist Paints from 26 Years of Memories

Brendan Patrick is living proof that anything is possible with nothing more than your imagination.

by Anna Marks
22 April 2016, 7:35pm

All images courtesy of Chris Rosik

Brendan Patrick is an artist submerged in total darkness. After losing his sight aged 26 and battling Cystic Fibrosis, Patrick, once a tattoo artist, has had to transform his artistic process; using only his imagination and memories for his creative vision. His work comes straight out of the mind; raw, neither plagiarised nor copied to perfection. Using puff paint, which rises once it’s dried, Patrick creates an image outline which he then paints over with his fingers using brailed acrylics.

As Patrick tells The Creators Project, “I pull Images from my past, things I loved visually when I could see.  I have no idea after eight years without sight, what those images actually look like anymore. What I create might be vastly different from what I originally saw, but I paint the perception of something rather than that thing itself.” It's evident in Patrick's works that, for an artist with their imagination and memories to rely on, absolutely anything is possible.

The Creators Project spoke to Brendan Patrick about his artistic vision, his painting process, and how on earth he knows when a painting is actually finished.

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The Creators Project: You’ve said you approach painting differently. Do you paint it out in your head before approaching the canvas?

Brendan Patrick: I imagine things from the past, from when I had vision. Then I recreate them in my mind. My work is full of colour, and I think that’s what I’m known for. I create a mental image through a sort of meditation. I try to clear my mind and wrap my head around what I’m trying to create before I even start painting.

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How do you know when you've finished a painting?

(Laughs) it’s a natural process. It’s all about feeling. I’ll focus on an area until that spot feels done. I can see the image by feeling with my fingers, so I can picture it.  I’m sure what I create is pretty close to what I’m thinking. Painting is the way I get to see again. When I paint, it’s like projecting an image from my thoughts onto a canvas.

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What do you want people to see when they look at your work?

I encourage people to close their eyes and touch my paintings.  I want people to try to see the painting the way I do. My work is a window into what it’s like to be blind. I want people to see my story. I haven’t quit, but I have changed. I think my work reflects some of my darkness.  

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Do you always feel comfortable showing people your work; especially when you can’t see it yourself?

I’m comfortable with showing people my work. I like to hear about what I made from other people’s perspectives, because I can’t really know what my paintings look like, so I love having people described my paintings to me. I paint so much that I forget what my paintings look like. When people go through my work, it’s hard for me to recall it unless they describe it fully.

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Advice for would-be artists?

Think like a champion. Be persistent, don’t give up, and don’t be scared to fuck up. I have spent so much time failing to get to where I am. It’s all part of the process, and as frustrating as it is, I love that part.

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The artist's friends are currently working on a documentary called Can't See Sh*t, which tells Brendan Patrick's story. You can help make it a reality by watching their film below, and visiting the Indiegogo here

indie go go link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/can-t-see-sh-t/x/12987191#/ from Get Super Rad on Vimeo.

Click here to see more of Brendan Patrick's work.  

Related:

A Blind GIF Artist Visualises His Lost Sight

Please Touch the Art: 3D-Printed Masterworks for the Blind

Trust Tattoos: Here's What Happened When an Artist Had Total Control

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Can't See Sh*t
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