Ever since my earliest childhood memories, I knew that my eyesight was dramatically different from those of my family and
friends. During the first 16 years of my life, I wondered, "Why am I the only one who is
seeing, bright, fluorescent colored floaters?" And, "Why can’t I see in dim lighting
conditions like everyone else?" Surprisingly, I never realized that I was losing so much
peripheral vision, in addition to night blindness, until I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at age 16. Despite having only a field of vision of 8 to 10 degrees by my early 20’s, I never let it get in the way
of pursuing my career as an artist. Over the years, I have experienced many challenges in
dealing with varying stages of vision loss. Today, I have lost nearly 95% of my eyesight and I
believe that blindness has served as a catalyst for positive change, thus greatly enriching my life. Adjusting to blindness was not an easy journey, but nowadays, I feel more at peace and much more
empowered through acceptance, learning alternative techniques, such as Braille, typing and computer screen reading software.
BACKGROUND AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
I am a graduate of Luzerne County Community College, Nanticoke Pennsylvania, with an associate degree in commercial
art. I pursued my life-long dream of working as a freelance artist. As a specialist in nature subjects, I also illustrated people, along with several graphic design projects
for local companies. In September 1988, I transitioned to a successful career as manager of
two separate foodservice facilities, working in Pennsylvania’s Business Enterprise Program for a period of 13 years.
WILDLIFE ILLUSTRATOR and GRAPHIC DESIGNER
While growing up, there was really no question about my career choice. I wanted to be
an artist. As reflected in my art, I am a life-long lover of wildlife and the outdoors.
I have spent countless hours in Pennsylvania woodlands, photographing animals and scenery for use as reference material for many of my
wildlife paintings and illustrations. By the time I reached my early twenties, I was creating
many original, realistic, highly detailed paintings. By age 23, I produced my first cover for
a small Pennsylvania fishing publication. Subsequent commissions followed for the creation of
inside and cover art for several small outdoor publications, such as "Pennsylvania Angler" and "Northeast Huntin’ &
Although I invested hundreds of hours creating these fine pieces of
art, my success has been quite modest from a commercial standpoint. However, I believe the experience has enriched my development of self-discipline, patience, and an unrelenting desire to
achieve perfection. It is these acquired virtues that have positively impacted my later
employment ventures and continue to do so today.
After graduating from the Pennsylvania Business Enterprise training program in early 1988, I operated two separate foodservice
locations. From September 1988 to July 1993, I managed a small facility within a clothing
manufacturing company located in the small town of Taylor, just outside of Scranton, PA.
In June 1993, I was promoted to manage the foodservice facility within the Labor and Industry Building in Harrisburg, PA.
* The Foundation Fighting Blindness, (FFB) - Baltimore, MD
Blue Jay and Chipmunk – original/acrylics – 2004 FFB holiday greeting cards
* Pennsylvania Angler Magazine - Harrisburg, PA
Largemouth Bass Chases Lure – original/acrylics – cover, September 1984
Fly Fisherman Displays Trophy Brown Trout – original/acrylics – inside article, April 1985
Walleye Under Ice - original/acrylics – cover, special ice fishing publication, January, 2005
* Northeast Huntin’ & Fishin’ Magazine - New Hope, PA
Leaping Bass Strikes Jitterbug - original/acrylics – cover, July, 1983
Ice Fisherman Jigs For Yellow Perch - original/acrylics – cover, January, 1983
* Massachusetts Wildlife - (state publication)
Turkeys In A Grassy Field - original/acrylics – back cover, April, 1982
Luzerne County Community College (LCCC), Nanticoke, PA - 1977 to 1979
Associate Degree: Commercial Art
Enterprise Training Center, Harrisburg, PA - September, 1987 to February, 1988
Certificate: Foodservice/Restaurant Management
"JD Lewis is a member of the following
Independent Visually Impaired Enterprisers, (IVIE)
An affiliate of the American Council Of The Blind, (ACB)
E-Sights Career Network, The Associated Blind, Inc., (TAB)
315 Fifth Avenue, Suite 807
New York, NY 10016-6510
Pennsylvania Council Of The Blind, (PCB) – An Affiliate Of ACB
931 North Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
Telephone: 717-920-9999, or, 1-877-617-7407
American Council of the Blind, (ACB)
1155 15th St., N.W., Suite 1004
Washington, D.C. 20005
Career Connect, American Foundation For The Blind, (AFB) - Mentor
AFB, Technology and Employment Center
949 3rd Avenue, Suite 200
Huntington, WV 25701
INTERESTING ARTICLES AND RESOURCES
Gingerresources.com is a site with a wide range of topics and information for everyone, including blindness related issues. Virginia Robertson created this website as a one-stop shopping approach for people to find information and resources to help them in all areas of life.
Are you looking for a web site to link you to others and/or a place for one stop shopping and research? Well, please visit my website at,
Blind Lifestyles - Find great resources from a blindness perspective. Topics include, assistive technology, employment, education, emergency preparedness, eye conditions, parenting a blind child and much more. Please visit,
Art Beyond Sight, "Art Education for the Blind"
"Provides user friendly educational resources that combines online learning experiences with an extensive collection of teaching materials, networking and community building tools"
Simulations of Ailing Artists' Eyes Yield New Insights on Style - New York Times
Blind Artist’s Story – You Tube, (video)
Mind's Eye Travel – "Creates tours for people with visual impairments"
"The hosted trips let both visually challenged and fully sighted people tour comfortably and free of worry"