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Painting in the Dark
Painting in the Dark

Painting in the Dark

Esref Armagan, Blind Artist

By Rachelle Burk, Illustrated by Claudia Gadotti



40 Pages, 10 x 8

Formats: Paperback Picture Book, Hardcover Picture Book

Hardcover Picture Book, $19.95 (US $19.95) (CA $23.95)

Publication Date: July 2016

ISBN 9781943431151

Rights: WOR

Tumblehome Learning, Inc. (Jul 2016)

Price: $19.95


A picture book biography about an artist who, though born blind, creates remarkably beautiful and complex art.

Winner:2017 Wilbur Award, Youth/Children AudiobookIn 1953, Esref Armagan was born completely blind to a poor family in Istanbul, Turkey. He received no formal education, and spent his childhood days in his father's shop where he developed the curiousity to create and draw. He experienced the world through touch, and learned to visually reproduce his surroundings, including color, shadows, and perspective, with his hands. The blind artist's story will be an inspiration to young artists of all abilities.


"Mr. Armagan is an important figure in the history of picture-making, and in the history of knowledge. His work is remarkable. I was struck by the drawings he has made as much as by his work with paint. He has demonstrated for the first time that a blind person can develop on his or her own pictorial skills the equal of most depiction by the sighted. This has not happened before in the history of picture-making." —John M. Kennedy, Professor, Perception/Cognition Psychology, University of Toronto at Scarborough

" . . . a valuable addition to any elementary school curriculum. The author is to be commended for sharing the story of this largely unknown painter in this well-written, entertaining, and inspiring book." —Stephanie Kieszak-Holloway, President of the Georgia Organization of Parents of Blind Children (GOPBC), Board Member of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)

". . . a story of talent, perseverance, and refusal to accept limitations. Esref's triumph will inspire young readers to stretch toward goals they may not have believed were within their reach. This is a thoroughly researched manuscript is a story of talent, perseverance, and refusal to accept limitations. Esref's triumph will inspire young readers to stretch toward goals they may not have believed were within their reach. This is a thoroughly researched manuscript that introduces young readers to a remarkable artist they will long remember." —Deborah Stein Kent, National Federation of the Blind

"I feel connected to Esref through Ms. Burk's book. May Painting in the Dark break down our misconceptions and encourage us all to find our internal vision, to follow our heart's desires, and never pre-judge our neighbor's abilities." —Barbara Oswald, blind artist, photographer, gallery owner, Program Coordinator for the Disability Resource Center at Bellevue College in Seattle.

"Fills a niche that is much needed – biographies of people with disabilities which are both educational and enjoyable, and which do not focus on the disability itself. . . . The book is uplifting and inspiring. . . . Its educational and scientific details give it depth." —Laura Weber Secretary, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children President, Texas Parents of Blind Children

" An inspiring story about an inspiring individual . . ." —Dr. Penny Hartin, Chief Executive Officer, World Blind Union 

"An illuminating portrait of a self-taught Turkish artist who, despite being blind from birth, has become an internationally known painter. Adding a light wash of biographical detail to her account, Burk traces Esref Armagan's long efforts to develop his skills, to earn recognition and a living, and to fend off skeptics claiming that he must be cheating, somehow . . . . the author's particular focus on the artist's development—his discoveries of shadows and of perspective, for instance—and specific techniques for preparing canvases with modeling clay or glued-down string offer real insight into how obstacles raised by physical disabilities can be overcome with motivation and ingenuity . . . . informative as well as inspiring." —Kirkus Reviews

Author Biography

Rachelle Burk is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for children. Her books include Tree House in a Storm , Don't Turn the Page!, The Tooth Fairy Trap, Miss Crump's Funny Bone, Sleep Soundly at Beaver's Inn, and The Walking Fish. Her work has appeared in national publications such as Highlights for Children and Scholastic Science classroom magazines. She lives in New Brunswick. Artist Claudia Gadotti is an illustrator and portrait painter with more than a decade of experience. She graduated from the Academy of Art University with a BFA and a major in Illustration, presently working mostly with children's books, book covers, magazines, and portraits. Claudia grew up in Italy and currently lives and works in New Zealand.