"We want people to carry on doing what they love"

Posted: Tuesday 18 October 2022 at 00:00

From Meryl Streep to Mo Farah, drawing celebrity portraits has long been a passion of Macular Society group member Peter, who says living with a macular condition doesn’t have to mean giving up something you love.

Peter began drawing for fun 30 years ago and despite the struggles of losing his sight in recent years, he has found a way of adapting in order to continue his passion.

He has now inspired the Macular Society to set up a specific telephone support group for visually-impaired artists of all abilities. Since losing his sight drawing has been a hurdle to Peter, but one he has been able to overcome, thanks to a CCTV magnifying device, which has enabled him to see the finer details.

Peter, who has dry AMD, said: “I believe I have a way of helping people who want to learn or continue painting. The amount of pleasure one can derive from doing this is marvelous, so this new group will be a great benefit to others.

“My eyesight has deteriorated quite badly but using this video magnifier has been amazing to trace and start colouring with pencil. It’s amazing how quickly and easily one’s ability improves, but you need to have the desire to do it.

“For anyone interested, I think this group will become a way of helping people who have an interest in art. We can show them how to do it quite simply through finding a way to adapt.”

Macular Society regional manager Carl Harrison donated the magnifying device to Peter, which he received following a hospital talk about macular disease and the work of the Society.

Carl said: “I immediately thought of Peter when the hospital asked if I would find use for the monitor; and with the help of Denise, the local group leader, we managed to get the equipment to him. Peter had been quite down because he had lost his passion for drawing due to his eyesight, but after adapting and having the monitor to help him see close up, he has rediscovered his mojo and he has become more upbeat again, which has been fantastic to see.

“There will be a number of people now with macular disease who enjoy creating art and we want them to be able to carry on doing what they love and share tips with others. Our message is about not giving up too soon and explore what’s out there because you might need to adjust your approach to your art. That is why we have set up this new group, we just want to help people find a way of carrying on doing what they love.”

'This will be a great opportunity for so many people like me'

For artist Mandy, who has Stargardt disease, being willing to adapt in order to carry on painting or drawing was something she realised she had to do.

“It was sink or swim,” she said. “Creating art is something where if I don’t do it, it makes me feel unhappy. I don’t do it every day but it’s therapeutic.

“It is massive for me, but sometimes getting the fine details is the only thing. I do a lot of abstract and I don’t need the finer details there, but I also do a lot of portraits. I do get annoyed when I can’t see the detail so this new group I am sure will be a great opportunity for so many people like me, who like to paint and draw and for us to share tips on how to carry on doing what we enjoy.”

The first telephone group took take place on Friday, 23 September, with the next call set to take place in November and every other month thereafter. If you would like to join the call, dial 01264 560 517 and press number 1 on your telephone keypad when prompted for a PIN.

For more information about the group contact Carl on 07920 054 509 or email carl.harrison@macularsociety.org