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Local artist goes blind for two years, never stopped painting

Local artist goes blind for two years, never stopped painting

CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - On most days, Lon Michels paints for 10 hours. He loves color.

"With a person I start with their eyes, but with landscape (I start with) a feature that sticks out, and it all flows from that point," Michels said.
One day in 15 minutes, all color went away, though.

"I was living in Key West, Florida at the time. I thought perhaps there was a brownout or a cloud was going over the house. It just kept getting slowly dimmer and dimmer until it went completely black," Michels said.

Michels got an infection in his optic nerve.
"They told me I could never see again. It was complete blackness," Michels said.

If you think a blind painter can't continue his art, you haven't met Lon Michels. One day, his friends told him to start painting again.
"My premise was when you're a kid and you have a sparkler, and you had to make a flower shape with your eyes shut, you could connect that in your head," Michels said.

He painted for two years in total darkness. With treatment and surgeries, he regained his sight.

"I cried like a baby. I really had come to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to see any longer. I just couldn't believe it," Michels said.

Now, ten years later, he intentionally left the part of the painting he was working on when he went blind unfinished.

"Things can be taken away from us so quick whether its health or a loved one. I always wanted to be able to remember where I came from, what I have to be grateful for," Michels said.

Red isn't just red anymore,  and blue not just blue.
"Everyday when I wake up, I might not have a good day, but I make a decision that I'm going to have a good day. No one knows how long you have, or what could be taken from you. Life is a gift. Vision is certainly a gift," Michels said.

To see more of Michels' work, visit his website

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