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Blind veteran Derek O'Rourke speaks about painting through a key hole

Date
9 October 2013 13:55

Derek expresses himself through his paintings and this is shown through the varied work he produces.

Under his artistic name DMO'R, blind veteran Derek O'Rourke, has turned his life into an artist's studio over the past few years since rekindling a love for the hobby of painting. His expression of himself through his paintings is shown through the varied work he produces.
The majority but not all of Derek's work is related to the armed forces in some way, not surprising as he served in the Royal Navy from 1968. He trained at HMS St Vincent and qualified as a sonar operator at HMS Vernon. He served in the frigates HMS Sirius, HMS Nubian, HMS Ambuscade and HMS Hermione, operating in the West Indies, Mediterranean and home waters. He left the Royal Navy as a Petty Officer on 26 Aug 1978 and went on to serve in the fire service.

Now at the age of 62, Derek suffers with a rare eye condition Angeoid Streaks which is a form of blood leaking into his eyes. He is registered blind now and says that his eyes are deteriorating all of the time.

Derek says: "It could be worse and there are people worse off than me".

To fulfil his love of painting Derek paints through a magnifying glass with a small brush. He says he has a reasonably clear spot in the top right hand corner of his right eye which he uses to identify the brush marks on his painting.

Derek says: "I would say it's like painting through a keyhole. I can only see my paintings from a few inches away trhough a magnifying glass and as it gets farther away from my eyes it gets more blurred.

"I can't appreciate any of my paintings, so I have to ask other people what the paintings are like. I painted my dog and it had a leg missing!"

Derek started painting over 18 months ago when he visited the Blind Veterans UK centre in Ovingdean, Brighton. Derek attended an art course with a qualified art instructor named Dave.

Derek says: "From that day on I just wanted to keep on painting. I find it very relaxing and it takes my mind off all my other aches and pains mentally and physically. If it wasn't for Blind veterans UK I would still be sitting here twiddling my thumbs".