I have been following and supporting Michael A. Williams work online for over a year and recently had the opportunity to talk to him about his paintings, inspirations, challenges and aspirations.
Three Swans by Michael A. Williams. Image used by permission 2013.
Michael is a genuine inspiration, not just because he is prepared to excel in an industry that is prevalently visual even though he is visually impaired (sight-impaired, as Michael refers to it), but especially because of his “Can do” attitude.
Michael was born with the condition called Stargardt’s disease, which stabilises when you are around 20 years old. He has peripheral vision but any focal vision he has is very blurry. He is a self-taught artist who was encouraged by his mum who is also a self-taught artist. Michael continually teaches himself new techniques and improvises in order to continue his painting interests. For example, he uses CCTV technology to help determine colours.
When you say “No”, i am going to do “Yes!” – Michael A. Williams
But his early interests were in aviation, and architecture. Michael recalls that when he sees huge airplanes like the Boeing 747, his eyes literally pops out and a big smile would run across his face! There was something about spatial awareness that really attracted him to the big planes, but he also had an interest in architecture, probably because he enjoyed working in environments that represent 3-Dimensional facets. But he found art a lot easier and he explored themes like landscapes, cityscapes, street scenes and automobiles.
Michael’s colour palette usually has blues, greens and yellows and he learnt how to improvise with the colours so that he would achieve the results you currently see in his paintings. Many people would initially just look at and enjoy his paintings but when they find he is visually impaired, they would then go on to question or interrogate his work and the idea that he can produce such visually aesthetic paintings even though he is visually impaired. As he says “I am able to work with my impairment, and what i cannot see, i improvise.”
One of his paintings, Evening Tow, was started in Little Rock Arkansas in 2005 and took nearly 3 years to complete due to various situations. He submitted it to the 2009 Insight Art competition for Blind and visually impaired artists, in which he came 3rd place. This recognition inspired Michael to carry on with his painting project but he says his original inspiration is God. He says “no one does it better than God!”
He admires the colours in the sky and is also inspired by nature because “the Sky comes with different shades of blue, green and yellow”. As he progressed with his artworks, he had an even greater appreciation of nature and would often use photographs to capture some of the details he had observed in nature.
All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue it. – Walt Disney
All Michael’s paintings are originals, some done using Oil and some in Acrylic. He also makes limited edition prints and posters.
Interestingly, Michael’s work is not all about himself as he recently set-up a the International Association for Sight Impaired artists (IASIA-Global) in Memphis, Tennessee. This non-profit organisation has a mission to educate, encourage and support the sight-impaired community worldwide to become involved in the visual arts. Check the website at www.iasia-global.org for more details.
Michael continues to reach out to other sight-impaired individuals and encourages anyone in this group who is willing to take the opportunity to explore their creativity, to come up and become a part of IASIA-Global. With the possibilities of Art Workshops, Art competitions, public Art projects and so much more, this project is an opportunity to let the public see that the visually impaired community has something to contribute to the world. As Michael says it, “it is about bringing your Treasure to the world.”
No one does it better than God, despite how we as artists try our best to capture nature in color and on canvas, he is the ultimate creator and best artist ever! – Michael A. Williams
To see more of Michael’s paintings, check his website at www.uniquewanders.com
The best way for individuals to reach Michael A. Williams, Founder/CEO IASIA, will by email at email@example.com. His telephone is 901-270-0723 (Memphis, Tennessee).
The website also has a contact form at http://www.iasia-global.org.