"There are times when I am working on the acrylic line paintings that I may get frustrated or stuck. At these times I like to take out a blank canvas and allow myself to paint aggressively, without a theme or direction.
'Don't Be Koi' was one of those times. I mainly paint in acrylic because I like to work quickly. My older brother has a koi pond and I love watching them swim. They are very colorful. Allowing myself to release my energy in the movements of water and nature is very calming. As my vision gradually gets more restricted, painting is my release of the feelings of fear, and sadness. I will continue to paint for as
ong as I can because it is my safe place."
- Connie Avery
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ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
36" x 48"
“I love the colors, movements, and stories in art. I love the joy, surprises, feelings, and emotions that come from creating art.”
Connie’s art is a reflection of her experiences, her family, and her vision. Connie lives with Retinitis Pigmentosa and Usher’s Syndrome, diseases which progressively reduce one’s ability to see and hear. Her interest in art stemmed from a young age, but coming from a large family and losing her father at the tender age of 9, it was important for Connie to have a more viable and stable career to help support her family. Because of this, she dedicated her first career to nursing. After having her daughter at age 40, her vision and hearing impairments were making it harder to find jobs that she could work confidently, so she applied for college to pursue her dream of being an artist. After 5 years, she graduated proudly with her degree.
Connie’s youngest brother was also visually and hearing impaired with an affinity for art. He enjoyed working with oil paints and creating stained glass windows. Connie believes his vision was getting worse and he was unable to deal with the loss, which led him to take his own life. With the loss of her brother, she needed to find a way to be positive even if her vision was limited. She turned to art to keep her occupied and independent, and her brother's stained glass windows inspired her to use acrylic paints, ink, and painter's tape to create a style that resembles stained glass windows, in his honor.
Her painting style also transformed when she received cataract removal surgery which changed her sense of light. She describes, “my central vision became a keyhole of vivid and lovely colors. I couldn't wait to show people all the beautiful varieties of color in nature and in artwork.” She goes on to say, “I felt alive and inspired and wanted to paint as much as possible to make up for the years I was seeing hazy with cataracts.” Even though the Retinitis Pigmentosa still limits her peripheral vision, it does not limit her vision centrally. The thrill of seeing colors, lights, and atmospheric presence of shadows and highlights inspires Connie to push the boundaries of acrylic painting to another level.
One of her favorite things about art is seeing someone else's smile and hearing them tell her what they see in her work. Because of her restricted vision, Connie doesn’t always see something until the viewer points it out, and this moment of discovery delights her. When she’s not painting, Connie enjoys doing photography, making mosaic windows and pottery tiles, tending to her garden, and caring for her guide dog and 2 cats. She has spent time giving back in the community by holding talks about art and vision loss for individuals in retirement homes and high school students. She has been a keynote speaker for the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired and hopes to continue to tell her story verbally and visually as an artist and advocate for those with disabilities.
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