When Bramblitt lost his vision due to complications from epilepsy in 2001, he fell into a depression. That's when he discovered painting. He figured out how to distinguish between colors by using his other senses. Mainly, by using his fingers to feel the textures.
He's "functionally blind" because his eyes can only differentiate between the light and darkness. He paints using raised lines to help him feel his way around the canvas with his left hand, while filling in the colors with his right brush-hand.
When his art first started being displayed he did not tell people he was blind. "[Not] because I was ashamed, but because I didn't want it to affect the way they perceived the art. I thought it would interfere with the message of the paintings." However, as his shows grew more successful and he started getting attention from the press, the cat was out of the bag. He no longer hides it.
In order to get the raised lines that Bramblitt uses to help him see, he first draws the subject using puffy paint””like the kind you use to decorate fabric. Then he uses oil paint. With oil paints, every color has a different texture and thickness that he can feel.
Bramblitt says on his website, "When I paint a musician I may paint their face, but the color comes from their own compositions." So really, this isn't just a portrait of Louis Armstrong. It's a portrait of Armstrong's music. What a wonderful world!