London, Ont. artist reunites with passion for painting after losing vision

London artist Courtney Johnson.
London artist Courtney Johnson. Beyond Seeing Artistry/Facebook

A London, Ont., artist has reunited with her love for art during the COVID-19 pandemic after losing her vision years ago.

Courtney Johnson found out at a young age that she was chronically ill.

Then at age 18, she lost her vision.

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“One day I woke up, walked into my kitchen and went blind,” Johnson told 980 CFPL’s Mike Stubbs on London Live. “My optic nerves swelled up and caused some nerve damage.”

Johnson recalled going through a “dark time” after losing her vision, but things got better when she attended a school for the blind, met her husband and started a family together.

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“Throughout that process, I’ve tried to take whatever darkness that’s in my life and turn it into something bright and positive.”

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Though she always loved art, Johnson says it was battling mental health challenges that reunited her with an old passion.

“I had a mental breakdown at the beginning of COVID,” she explains.

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“My children and my husband kept inspiring me to do what I loved, and that’s painting. I never thought I’d pick up art supplies again after going blind.”

And so, Johnson began painting using the colour vision she has. She started playing with paints, “and now it’s turned into a life aspiration for me.”

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The artist describes her colour vision as “looking at a frosted window with ice on the outside,” where she sees some colour but no definition.

“I mix my paints with a medium to make it a liquid, and layer the different colours,” Johnson explains. “As I pour it, it decides to make its own pattern. I manipulate it around the canvas (and) it turns out however it wants to turn out.”

Johnson has joined TikTok and has found a supportive community online.

“I never thought anybody would want to see artwork from a blind girl,” she laughed. “So far, it’s been positive (and) it’s another driving force that keeps me going.”


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