A visually impaired artist from the UK, who was registered as blind eight years ago, has produced a remarkable collection of paintings. These artworks draw inspiration from his experiences of blindness and his affinity for coastal life.
Paul Stretton-Stephens, originally hailing from Nottingham, encountered a life-altering moment in Spain in 2015 when he awoke to find himself without sight. Despite consulting numerous specialists across Europe, Paul refused to accept that his cone and rod dystrophy had no cure, exploring various alternative treatments globally.
In 2022, after returning to the UK, Paul began to experience what he describes as ‘flashes of clarity’, brief moments when his vision would momentarily return.
Paul explained: “Wherever my head was looking, I would see for a moment. I could make out what could be the sock that I’m putting on my foot, the back of somebody’s head, the radiator. It would last for a second or two and occur once or twice a day. Over a period of months, this increased to about 10 to 12 times a day.”
Following extensive testing, Paul’s vision showed improvement, despite complications like a cataract and ongoing retinal dystrophy. The medical experts were uncertain if this improvement would last. During this uncertain period, Paul cautiously reacquainted himself with his environment, aware that he might lose his sight again at any time. By March 2023, doctors deemed his vision stable.
Paul’s artistic journey began with a visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he developed a keen interest in art. He encountered a fellow military veteran who created digital portraits of soldiers who had fallen in Afghanistan. This meeting inspired Paul to learn art creation using specific tools and applications. He has since been refining his artistic talents, supported by an art group and online instructors. Now, Paul actively experiments with mixed media and acrylics in his art.
Paul remarked: “Prior to my visit to Santa Fe, I liked and appreciated some art. When I left Santa Fe, I fell in love with and appreciated all art in all its forms. And that love continues to grow and blossom to this day.”
Identifying as a ‘Visual Addict’, Paul’s creative repertoire includes mixed media, photography, digital painting, and acrylics, with a particular fondness for abstract and coastal themes. He skillfully blends fabric, photography, and digital techniques to craft unique hybrid art pieces, available as originals or as open or limited-edition prints. His work spans abstract and seascape themes, complementing his coastal life photography.
Paul added: “I’ve had a very varied background, from service in the armed forces to physical education instructor, senior education management, and mindset coaching, but I decided that my passion for art and photography nourished my soul so much that I pursued these interests ardently.
“I am delighted to see that my vibrant and contemporary abstract artwork is gaining in popularity and is becoming more collectible. My aspiration is to have my works hung on the walls of homes and other spaces around the world – something I would never have envisaged when I lost my sight eight years ago.”
For further details about Paul and his artwork, one can visit paulstrettonstephens.com.