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Blind artist refusing to let vision loss faze her teaches Colchester veterans new approach to painting

PUBLISHED: 09:17 20 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:50 20 March 2018

Annie Fennymore with her art work and veterans at the Colchester recovery centre. Picture: ANN SCOTT/HELP FOR HEROES

Annie Fennymore with her art work and veterans at the Colchester recovery centre. Picture: ANN SCOTT/HELP FOR HEROES

Archant

An artist told she would lose her vision completely by the time she was 40 is refusing to let her blindness stop her from conquering the art world.

The artist, from Walton-on-the-Naze, at a session hosted inside the Colchester recovery centre. Picture: ANN SCOTT/HELP FOR HEROES The artist, from Walton-on-the-Naze, at a session hosted inside the Colchester recovery centre. Picture: ANN SCOTT/HELP FOR HEROES

Veterans at the Colchester Recovery Centre are being taught to paint by inspirational Annie, from Walton-on-the-Naze, as part of their rehabilitation programme.

The award-winning artist was just 28 years old when she started to have blurry vision.

Doctors dealt her a devastating blow and informed her she would soon lose her sight altogether – but instead of treating the change as an ending, she embraced it as a new beginning.

“I don’t see any point in sitting around and moaning about the cards I’ve been dealt in life,” she said.

Annie showing Colchester veterans her unique approach to art. Picture: ANN SCOTT/HELP FOR HEROES Annie showing Colchester veterans her unique approach to art. Picture: ANN SCOTT/HELP FOR HEROES

“Let’s just move on and work with it. I’ve walked through glass doors and fallen down steps, but I just pick myself back up again.

“You just have to look on the bright side of life and learn to laugh at yourself.

She added: “I’ve had a few really funny moments too. Like when I took my guide dog to the supermarket and a fellow shopper was very concerned that she was bleeding.

“They erupted into fits of giggles when I told them that I must have spilt paint on her but couldn’t tell as I was blind.”

Annie, who began to have blurry vision at the age of 28, pictured with her guide dog Mary outside Colchester recovery centre. Picture: ANN SCOTT/HELP FOR HEROES Annie, who began to have blurry vision at the age of 28, pictured with her guide dog Mary outside Colchester recovery centre. Picture: ANN SCOTT/HELP FOR HEROES

Annie paints acrylic colours using her fingers and only uses a brush for backgrounds and larger canvases. A selection of electronic talking aids are used to help her pick out the correct colours.

Her father was in the RAF and husband in the Navy, so Help for Heroes – the military charity hosting the Colchester Recovery Centre sessions – is a cause close to her heart.

Veterans really enjoyed the session with Annie, which saw them have a demonstration of technology she uses in her work.

One device, which is shaped like a pen, reads special barcodes on tubes of paint verbally describing the colour and texture.

A veteran who took part said: “It was at Colchester Recovery Centre that I first picked up a piece of charcoal and used it for drawing after some 40 years.

“I discovered that I actually really enjoyed it, and this developed into painting.

“I do however have plenty of unfinished pieces as they just didn’t look right. 
They added: “What I’ve learnt today is that I should just carry on regardless.

“It’s more about the enjoyment of painting than creating a masterpiece.”

To discover more about Annie, visit her website.

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