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

 

INTRODUCTION


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’ & Fishin’."

 

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.


FOODSERVICE CAREER

 

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.

PUBLISHED ARTWORK

 

* 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


EDUCATION


Luzerne County Community College (LCCC), Nanticoke, PA - 1977 to 1979

Associate Degree:  Commercial Art

 

 BBVS Business Enterprise Training Center, Harrisburg, PA - September, 1987 to February, 1988
Certificate:  Foodservice/Restaurant Management


MEMBERSHIP ORGANIZATIONS

"JD Lewis is a member of the following organizations"

Independent Visually Impaired Enterprisers, (IVIE)
An affiliate of the American Council Of The Blind, (ACB)
 
http://www.ivie-acb.org


E-Sights Career Network, The Associated Blind, Inc., (TAB)
315 Fifth Avenue, Suite 807
New York, NY 10016-6510
 Telephone: 212-683-4950.
http://www.esightcareers.net/

 

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
http://www.pcb1.org/

American Council of the Blind, (ACB)
1155 15th St., N.W., Suite 1004
Washington, D.C. 20005
http://www.acb.org/

Career Connect, American Foundation For The Blind, (AFB) - Mentor

AFB, Technology and Employment Center
949 3rd Avenue, Suite 200
Huntington, WV  25701
Telephone: 1-888-824-2184
http://www.careerconnect.org/

 


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,
http://www.gingerresources.com/

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,
http://www.blindlifestyles.com

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"
http://www.artbeyondsight.org

Simulations of Ailing Artists' Eyes Yield New Insights on Style - New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/04/science/04impr.html

Blind Artist’s Story – You Tube, (video)
http://www.youtube.com:80/watch?v=8P84bfFpVWE

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"
http://www.mindseyetravel.com

 


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