I was delighted to meet Licey a couple of weeks ago in my Soft Pastel Facebook group.  We were discussing blending tools and she told me she is blind.  This is something close to my heart as I nearly lost the sight in one of my eyes in 2010.  I was really interested in Licey’s Art Journey and she has kindly written about it for you to read too.  It’s very inspiring and I hope it helps / encourages you if you are struggling right now.

Licey’s Art Journey

When someone mentions art, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

  • A vision of someone at an easel, using their arms to paint expressive strokes of color onto the canvas?
  • An image of a Potter, maybe, with a head spinning with inspiration to mirror the lump of clay spinning on their wheel?
  • Color? Fine detail?
  • Pictures which look like photos?
  • Pictures which look like a unicorn threw up on them?
  • Pictures covered with glued macaroni if that’s your bag?

Now imagine, for a minute, that all of the above are suddenly impossible. Imagine not being able to study that reference photo, or observe that still life (seriously- why do so many people paint pears? Like it’s always pears! I may make my next project a study of a toilet roll, or a satsuma if I’m feeling exceptionally rebellious! Anyway, I digress…).

Imagine not being able to move freely enough to make those expressive strokes with a paintbrush… But don’t imagine too hard. Because you can. And I know this, because I can. I’m an artist. I work mainly with colored pencils and pastels, although I’ve dabbled in acrylics. I’ve taken commissions, and I’ve made money from my work.

I’m also blind. And I have Fibromyalgia, ME, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; all of which affect my mobility.

So, in an artists world, you would think I’d be screwed, right? Nope!

I’ve been registered blind since my optic nerves stopped developing when I was three months old. I see less than a metre from the one eye I can see out of, walk with a cane, annoy people at Alton Towers by jumping the queue, walk into plate glass windows…you get the picture!

Instead of focusing on what I can’t see, I focus on what I CAN see. I can enlarge pictures on my phone so that only a tiny section shows- and I can draw that section. Then I can move onto the next, and the next. Sure, it takes centuries, but at the end of it, I’ve still created a picture!

Regarding painting or drawing landscapes, or buildings etc, from life: I can tell how tall a building is through Echo Awareness (I can hear lamp posts too! Cool, huh?). The sound of the wind tells me where the trees are, how long the grass is, and the fact that I can see vague shapes helps too!

I do always have a colorful nose though! I have to work so closely toward the paper that I can sometimes get a face full of pastel! You think that’s bad? Imagine sneezing in this position 🤢

Visual tutorials are easier for me to follow than you think. Close your eyes for a second next time you watch, for example, a soft pastel video. Do you hear the difference in “scratch volume”, depending on how much pressure the creator is using? I do.

[note from Sue:  In my soft pastel tutorials I teach you to listen to what Lisey can already hear]

Basically, I hear what you see. My work is not perfect. Who’s is? It’s mine. That’s what matters. No one is marking your work out of ten. There’s no such thing as “perfect”, or “right”. You do you!

My mobility issues sometimes limits whether I can actually create artwork or not. If I’m on a “bed day” then painting is out, as the level of movement would have my joints singing Ave Maria, and it wouldn’t be pretty. I get around this by setting up my “bed-art studio”. I have an extremely light, fold up easel which is comfortable enough to balance on my knees (which I have to draw up toward my chest to get close enough to see). I use light materials such as colored pencils and small pastels, and I accept the fact that it won’t be my best work that day.

I’ve heard from several people who suffer from chronic illnesses that they’re scared to take up art because of their pain. I’m not going to lie – art uses spoons***, and sometimes I don’t have any spare spoons to use on physically creating. But its doable, even on an off day!  If you don’t have the spoons*** to pick up a soft pastel, scribble with a short pencil (easier to hold when your hands are singing Ave Maria out of tune!) In a tiny sketchbook. When even this isn’t doable, I binge watch tutorials and art material reviews on YouTube. That way, I’m always learning. We’re all always learning! Above all, don’t let anyone tell you you’re incapable of creating art. Because if I can do it, anyone can do it.

***Vie Portland from https://www.vieness.co.uk/ has helpfully supplied the explanation about spoons… “Spoon theory is a useful way to explain how disability and chronic illness can impact on pain and energy levels. A non-disabled person may have twenty spoons a day; a disabled person already starts at a deficit with ten spoons a day. Everything we do has a spoon cost, but it’s not a consistent cost, so it’s difficult to predict; if we have slept well, an activity may only be the equivalent of half a spoon, whereas, another day, after a bad night, it might equate to two spoons.

Written by Licey Hastings

Licey’s Paintings:


Licey’s favourite painting (first time using soft pastel)

Licey in her bed-art-studio

Commissioned work

Commissioned work

Licey and I would love to know if this blog has inspired you or touched your heart in away way… let us know! 🥰