Saturday, March 07, 2015

So you think you have problems painting?

Every now and again we're all apt to hear from fellow artists who are having a problem with their current painting or have hit a 'painting block' - and just can't paint anything.

It's something which happens to many people and the usual trick is to take a proper break and then get stuck into doing something related - like sketching or reading art books - which may well trigger the urge to create a painting.

However suppose the 'block' you hit was that one morning you woke up and you were totally blind.

Would you even try painting again?  Could you even paint if you're blind?

Well the good news is that you can.

Take a look at these two videos.  The first one is just over 4 minutes and is about the blind painter Sargy Mann.  It's a BBC news 'Real Life' video interview.

The second is a much longer documentary video made by his son Peter Mann.  This shows much more about how he manages to paint and tells you even more about about the inner resilience and creativity of this blind painter.  I greatly admire him for looking for ways of doing working out how to paint within the constraints he's been given to work within.

Sargy Mann from Peter Mann Pictures on Vimeo.
Sargy Mann produced and directed by Peter Mann in 2006, funded by the British Documentary Foundation (BritDoc)
Shown at BritDoc 06, Melbourne International Film Festival 07, LIDF, and Voyages European Film Festival. Peter Mann's film about his father the artist Sargy Mann as he goes through the process of making a unique series of paintings, the subjects for which were the last things he ever saw, and painted after going completely blind in May 2005.
You can see his paintings:
These are articles about Sargy Mann:
I suggest you bookmark this post so that the next time you have a problem painting, you can return to it and watch these videos again and be really thankful you still have your sight even if your inner vision has temporarily deserted you.

Then do what he does - and get back in the studio and have a go!  Try drawing blindfold and see what happens....


  1. Inspiring.

    At 77, with sight less than perfect, I shall practice his technique whilst I can see the outcome and able to make adjustments. :0)

  2. thanks for this. I remember the late Robert Genn saying the best advice to give anyone with a block is 'go to your desk'...!
    Chuck Close is another amazing example.

  3. I used to say that I'd become a sculptor in clay if I ever lost my sight, but Sargy Mann has made me re-evaluate. I'll keep painting and get a lot of blue tack.
    Thanks for the post about an indomitable painter.

  4. I still remember my first class at Camberwell which was set up by Sargy Mann. A room full of crumpled up paper!

    I suspect he has never had painter's block in his life as he lives and breathes pictures in his mind. I only wish I had a fraction of talent and zest for life.

    He was a wonderful teacher as well. Wish I had listened to him and stay at Camberwell at the end of my foundation year. C'est la vie


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