Award-winning portrait artist, Timothy Chambers, has just released a new book. . . a coloring book for adults called Seeing Beautiful Through the Journey of Life. He’d probably be the first to admit he never expected to write and publish a coloring book. But then again, his journey hasn’t ever been a typical one.
Tim always knew he wanted to be an artist, even as a young child. So, it was quite devastating when—at the age of 30, after winning top place in an international portrait competition—he was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome, a degenerative disease of the eyes and ears.
Chambers recalls, “I felt like I was going to be blind in a matter of months. All my life I knew I was going to be an artist. That’s how I thought—as an artist, as someone who sees.”
It took two years of battling through fears before he finally wasn’t scared of the future. His weakness forced him to not take things for granted, to celebrate what he does have, to focus not on career successes but on the underpinnings of what a successful life looks like.
Because of his disease, Time currently has about 17° of vision; the normal peripheral range for humans is anywhere from 180° to 200°. But this hasn’t affected his optimism, or the way he sees people and his art.
“My paintings are much better, fuller, richer since I found out I had Usher Syndrome,” says Chambers. And his story caught the attention of a few friends in the publishing industry as well.
When they suggested that he create a coloring book, Tim initially turned them down. But over a period of months, his friends persisted and eventually convinced him that others could be inspired by him and find encouragement for their own challenges.
Tim agreed to the project, and thought about everything he had learned from his journey of dealing with the disease. Things like perseverance and hope and joy came into play as he narrowed his list of topics for the book.
But what would the illustrations look like? How does a fine artist draw images for others to color? The teacher and artist in him wanted to offer a variety of styles for coloring enthusiasts to try—ink drawings for a graphic look and pencil drawings with a 3D, breathable organic feel. He added various levels of shading to give the novice artist’s work a sense of depth.
And as a lover of good art, he also included works from some of the greats such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt as a springboard for colorful creations.
The coloring book combines many aspects of Tim’s professional expertise, including his skills as a teacher. He included helpful art tips throughout the book to help people have fun with coloring and provides a free course through his online school with the purchase of the book.
That part of the project came fairly easily. Crafting the content of the book, however, was much more stretching than Tim had imagined.
Tim learned Adobe InDesign (a book layout program) enough to lay out the book cover to cover, often working sixteen to eighteen hours a day to make his publishing deadline. It took everything he had, every ounce of energy and creativity for two months straight.
“When I received my copy of the book, it was a surreal experience,” Tim said. “The same experience I get when I revisit a painting I did long ago—I recall every stroke of the brush, like replaying a deep conversation word for word. Working through designs and compositions, writing up the art tips I have throughout the book, cognizant of the novices wanting to enjoy coloring without being intimidated by the blank page. . . It all turned out perfectly.”
Despite being his own toughest critic, Tim admits to feeling a sense of humble pride at how it turned out and hopes people find joy in its pages, like he has.
If you’re interested in learning more, either about Tim’s book or his story, please visit seeingbeautiful.com.
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