Times Associate Editor
Ever since she was a young girl, doctors told 59-year-old Pat Timmermans that one day her life would change. Knowing this, she embraced her ambitions and learned to draw after joining the Wheatland Society of Arts and Hope Bridges Society in 2011. Now that her portfolio is overflowing with detailed sketches and entertaining colouring-book-style pages, she was asked to facilitate the Hope Bridges Society’s first-ever drawing class – a high praise and unexpected opportunity for the artist who’s legally blind.
Having suffered from retinitis pigmentosa (RP) all her life – an inherited degenerative eye disease resulting in the loss of vision – Timmermans created her vision bucket list. While the list contains seeing the Atlantic coast, going whale watching, and visiting the Great Wall of China, she is now able to check drawing off from that list. But for Timmermans, who has lost her peripheral vision and will lose the rest of her sight over the next decade, the condition forced some necessary adjustments to be made, that she now utilizes when teaching her drawing classes.
“The unique aspect of applying my own vision loss to drawing is I can actually show the people different ways to draw, for example how to draw a straight line,” she explained, noting that since she is only able to see one item and not the area around it, she has to memorize and learn how to create a straight line by making points A and B meet in the middle, without seeing where the other point is below.
“You compensate as you go. I do a lot of memorizing in my day. I’m trying to pack in as much as I can that requires sight until it’s gone.”
On Feb. 4, Timmermans facilitated her first workshop for the Hope Bridges Society, teaching five individuals about perspective and adding depth to the drawings; in other words, learning how to draw 3D images on a 2D piece of paper. The new program arose from much demand from the society’s members over the years.
“We’ve had lots of requests throughout the last few years for drawing,” said Wanda Reinholdt, program coordinator for Hope Bridges Society. “Like all our workshops, there’s an opportunity for people to do a simple or a medium level or an advanced. So wherever you’re at with drawing you can come do this.”
Although she loves drawing flowers, Timmermans’ latest passion is creating colouring-book-style pages, which she is in the process of trying to publish in a book. The budding artist acknowledged that being aware of the future loss of her eyesight meant she was able to prepare and now fulfill her vision bucket list. Although she plans on taking up music once more, once her vision has completely disappeared, nothing can take the place in her heart dedicated to drawing.
“I love it because it’s a way to sit down and almost meditate,” she said. “When I get into drawing, the world’s problems don’t matter to me at that point. It’s almost like an escape, but I can escape into drawing and just for that short while, I feel really happy and calm.”
Timmermans will be facilitating the drawing course at the Hope Bridges Society on Thursdays until the end of February. For more information and to see some of her artwork, visit www.luv2draw.com.