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Valley man overcomes adversity, paints artwork while legally blind

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

Macular degeneration took his vision, but a valley man continues to paint artwork.

When his vision deteriorated the man quit making art.

Years later he realized that his vision was not the only part of his life he missed; he also missed painting, and the way it made him feel.

Pete Lang's loud laughter fills the garage of his South Phoenix home.

He lost that infectious sense of humor when macular degeneration stole 97 percent of his vision, making him legally blind.

"I was pretty angry and bitter, and it took probably about eight years to get through the process really," said Pete Lang.

He gave up his lifelong love for painting.

"I had quit probably for fifteen years because I was so angry that universe was playing such a cruel joke," he said.

But at 57, he now picks up the paintbrush every morning and heads to the garage where he puts the images from his imagination onto canvas with extremely limited vision.

"I probably have three percent of my vision most of that is peripheral," he said.

Lang describes his level of vision now like looking through a piece of swiss cheese, he catches small glimpses of light and color.

He uses small contraptions to help him navigate the canvas.

"Let's say I stopped here, I would make it so that it would hang here, and then I'd load my brush, I'd come back and there it would be, and then I wouldn't have to touch everything else on the canvas," he said.

He takes breaks from painting a sunflower to actually feel one, and then uses the memory of how it felt to portray it with paint.

"It's taken four of five years to develop the process, it's a messy process, sometimes I have more paint on my nose and face than I do on the canvas," said Lang.

Pete's tale is not just about overcoming adversity it's also a story about love. The woman he calls his muse, the wife who took her blind husband to an art store and made him fill a basket with supplies.

"He went through fifteen years of depression and anger and frustration. I just felt like it was the only way we were ever gonna get past those angry days" said Mindy Lang.

Pete's hobby gives him a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

"This is why, to get up is to see the world, to document the world, and enjoy the world as it was given to us to enjoy," said Mindy.

Pete has a very progressive form of macular degeneration similar to muscular dystrophy but with his eyes, there is a chance he could lose the ability to see light and colors but if he does, he has a plan.

"I'll get another string and another wire and paint," he said.

While nothing can be done to heal his eyes, Pete says art healed his soul.

For more information on Pete Lang's artwork visit: www.peteralangart.com

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