Watch how an Edinburgh artist with sight loss managed to find a new way of creating art

As an artist who was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition causing sight-loss, he thought he would never paint again.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 7:11 am

But by taping paintbrushes to the end of his white walking stick and using textured paper the passionate painter, Alan McIntyre has found new ways to make art.

The 47-year-old contemporary visual artist, who lives and works in the Capital, first discovered his love for “bright, colourful paintings” as a young schoolboy in Edinburgh.

But in his mid-twenties the artist, who was also working as a successful architect technician, was diagnosed with a condition which caused him to lose his sight.

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Artist Alan McIntyre
Artist Alan McIntyre

He said: "When I was first diagnosed it was terrifying, my life just diminished and I wondered what I was meant to do with my time.”


Alan had to give up his work because it required him to rely too heavily on his sight. On top of losing his career, the painter thought he would “never paint again” which "devastated" him.

However, determined to find a way to continue his life passion, he researched other blind artists’ careers.

Alan said: “I had to do a lot of research online, looking at other visually-impaired artists that are still painting and how they do it. It’s been a very long process of realising that I don’t need to stop.”

The main resource that helped Alan rediscover art was a local art group, Hillside Artists, run by the Royal National Institute of Blind People in North Edinburgh which helps artists with sight-loss begin to paint again.

Here, Alan discovered creative techniques that helped his art develop.

He said: “I finally had the freedom and resources to try new techniques and the support with the things I can’t manage, like mixing colours.”

For his latest exhibition, Unseen Trails, he placed white paper on the floor and mapped his steps by attaching a paintbrush to his walking cane. He traced the path he walks through life, a symbolic nod to his new life as a sight-loss artist.

Alan is passionate about helping other blind and disabled artists engage with art and his latest exhibition combines his own art with that of children in special education schools. His paintings are currently on display at St Margaret’s House, London Road.