TOWNSEND — Bette Eldredge was losing her sight but didn’t want to give up painting. It was getting harder for her to see her work on canvas, so a friend suggested creating digital art using her iPad.
Five years later, Eldredge, who is considered legally blind, has created more than 50 colorful digital paintings featuring animals, people, and fantasy creatures.
“That was a big change for me and it opened a new world of creativity,” she said.
The Townsend resident is blind in one eye and partially in another from diabetes. Eldredge said she started experiencing vision loss in 2000.
“It’s hard to be an artist or a designer without being able to see your own stuff,” she said.
The backlight of her iPad and glasses help Eldredge see her artwork.
She uses a program similar to Photoshop and toggles with colors, brush sizes, and more to create her paintings.
At a recent reception, 90 pieces of her work were on display at the town’s meeting hall.
Most of the artwork was created digitally, but a handful are watercolors and oil paintings completed when her eyesight was better. Photography pieces were also featured.
During the reception, Eldredge demonstrated her process by setting a color background and sketching the profile of a horse. From there, she refined the shape through shading and an eraser tool.
“Every time you do one of these you learn something new,” Eldredge said, while looking at the different settings and tools in the art program.
Instead of using a stylus, she prefers to use her fingertips on her iPad.
Eldredge, who owned horses since she was a young adult and previously on her Townsend farm, often features the animals in her work. Sometimes she adds wings to a horse to transform it into a Pegasus.
It takes between 60 and 80 hours to create one digital painting, Eldredge said. She spends up to 18 hours on her iPad daily for her artwork and to write poetry.
Art has been a part of Eldredge’s life for decades.
The Stoneham native grew up around family members with artistic talent. She attended the Massachusetts College of Art and Design to study painting at the age of 15 and later became a designer.
At the reception, Eldredge pointed out an oil painting of her great uncle that she painted when she was 10 years old.
“I was born with a paintbrush in my hand,” she said.
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