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Colourful art brings light to blind Edmonton artist’s life: ‘There’s always a way’

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Blind Edmonton woman uses art to bring colour to dark world
WATCH: An Edmonton grandmother who went blind at the age of 30 as a complication of Type 1 Diabetes shares how her diagnosis pushed her into becoming an artist. Sarah Ryan has Kim Hammond's story – Dec 31, 2022

Kim Hammond was 30 years old when Type 1 Diabetes stole her eyesight almost overnight.

“It was back when insulin was very hard on the eyes,” she explained.

“It was like gray and black rain came down. I said, ‘Oh no, you have to take me to the hospital.’ It was the retinas bleeding.”

Despite more than 100 laser surgeries and numerous other physical operations, Hammond was left with no vision in her left eye, and just two per cent in her right. She also went colourblind.

“It was challenging — I didn’t want to leave the house.”

But even though her world looks dark, Hammond chose to fill her home, and her heart, with colour — using her creativity to make vibrant art.

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“I got into the shows and then eventually a couple of the galleries,” she explained.

“It’s an expression. It’s a chunk of my soul and you get to see what I see in my head. That’s scary sometimes!”

Kim Hammond holds her favourite painting. Sarah Ryan / Global News

The vivid colours and delicate brush strokes of her paintings depict beautiful scenes she tucked away in her mind, before she lost her sight.

Hammond nodded in the direction of a painting of a green and yellow farmers field, barns and a bright blue sky.

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“[That is] Saskatchewan, when we drove across the country and the kids were little and we let them run. That… that’s in my head.”

READ MORE: Calgary seniors display art with skills acquired during the pandemic

Other art, like her custom pet portraits, are done painstakingly over hours — when the conditions are just right.

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“You have to wait until it’s light enough in the room. You can’t start until 10 to 10:30 a.m., and you’re good until about 1 p.m.. Hopefully you can get it done before then,” Hammond smiled.

Kim Hammond’s pet portraits. Sarah Ryan / Global News

She has to get very close to the images and her work, using powerful magnifying glasses to bring the pets to life using chalk.

“I’ll end up with paint on my nose, chalk on my face,” Hammond said.

There are some details she needs to have described to her.

“I’ll send them a message: ‘What colour are the eyes?’ I can never tell what colour the eyes are.”

Blind artist Kim Hammond using chalk to draw an image of a wolf. Sarah Ryan / Global News

But Hammond takes it all in stride.

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“It’s fun for me, and when someone appreciates it, that’s an even bigger bonus.”

READ MORE: New art exhibit in Kingston, Ont. promotes freshwater resources

Her apartment is like a miniature art gallery, where her work lines every wall.

Farmers fields are depicted over and over again.

“It’s so bright, it’s so yellow — I can see that. It just strikes me every time there’s a canola field. I think that’s my favourite thing to paint.”

She never used to tell customers about her vision loss.

“Up until a year ago I’d say, I wouldn’t promote it like that. And then I thought, ‘Why not?’ It’s something most people wouldn’t even try.”

Now, she’s embracing it.

“Find what’s important to you and go for it. Don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it, and don’t believe you can’t do it.

“There’s always a way. It might be different, but there’s always a way.”

Hammond’s art is all for sale, she can be reached at kimscott52@gmail.com.

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