The short documentary simply titled John opens with John Bramblitt reciting a quote from Hemingway about the process of creating. Bramblitt’s work studio is covered in different colored paint pallets and canvases both new and used. From the outside, this looks like an ordinary day in the life of a successful painter, and it is- to a certain extent. John is a successful painter, and he is blind.
What is shocking from the very beginning of the film is just how detailed and accurate John’s paintings are, despite his condition. Throughout the film, he explains just how he became in tune with his other senses, especially garnering a heightened sensitivity to touch, and how for him, the fulfillment isn’t about the artwork, but rather, the process. After an online Reddit post shot him into the spotlight, orders for personalized artwork came flooding in. John speaks with a softness that draws the viewer in, and keeps them there with his profound thoughts on life, like “if it wasn’t for the dark you wouldn’t notice the light.” There are so many quotable moments in the film’s 30 minutes, it almost feels like this film doubles as poetry.
John Bramblitt wants to change the way blind people approach art, and that’s made very clear throughout the film. At times, it seems as if his message is a little over-repetitive; John is essentially a tribute to an artist director Lara Firestone finds inspiring and wants everyone else to agree to as well. However, it is never a dull moment watching him create magic surrounded by his wife and son. John says in the film that to him energy is color, and watching him onscreen, I’d say John is a fluorescent rainbow.