Post date: 
Friday, 19 May 2017
stock image of a female artist

You might be forgiven for thinking that drawing at all, let alone drawing from life, was near impossible for someone with sight loss. But 93 per cent of people registered as blind or partially sighted people can see something and can still get a lot of enjoyment out of the arts, given the right tools and environment.

When Sarah Newman began to lose her sight, she assumed that her interests in art would be taken away. One of her interests is drawing from life, and she recently discovered that this was something that she was still able to do. Originally speaking to BBC In Touch radio, she shares her experience as an art student and how it felt to lose her sight, leading to her coming up with the idea for the class.

“The first time that I really had problems with my eyesight was actually very suddenly and that was in my late 30s. When that happened I just stopped drawing, because I thought that this was something that I couldn’t do again.

“When I went back to life drawing I discovered, whilst I was living in London at the time, that there was a life drawing class across the road from me. I went along and the tutor was fantastic, he was very proactive, he was very encouraging.”

Feeling encouraged but self conscious

However, Sarah reports feeling self-conscious of staring or peering and because of the way her vision is affected, everything took a lot longer. Describing her sight, she says “it’s as if you're looking through one of those pieces of mist that they put in front of a camera screen, so I realised I was probably going to need to get very close.”

Sarah acknowledges that for those with extremely low or no sight, the classic form of drawing would be difficult, however people might be surprised by how much you can get out of art and life drawing even with very little sight.

Howeve, it's much easier to draw accurately and enjoy the process if you're in an environment where you can work around your sight condition, for example getting very close or using technology to aid your vision. Luckily, the Wallace Education team were very receptive to Sarah’s suggestion of running sessions whereby people could get up really close to the model without feeling self-conscious.

How you can attend one of the life drawing classes

The first class at the Wallace Collection is planned for Saturday June 3rd, with more planned throughout the summer if there is interest. Anyone is welcome, including those with no art experience. You would need to be able to travel into central London, but the classes are free and materials are provided. This is made possible by the Wolfson Foundation.

There needs to be at least 12 people interested in attending the class for it to run, so if you’re interested please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Sarah via email.

You may also like these stories about other things blind and partially sighted people have achieved: