Rowena Portch has always been creatively inclined. Despite having earned an Electronic Engineering degree, a Business Management degree, a Master’s in Computer Sciences and an attempted doctorate in Natural Medicine, she has always leaned toward creating what she cannot see.
Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when she was 25, she denied the prognosis that she would be completely blind in 10 years. She had far too many things to accomplish and simply didn’t have time to lose her vision.
In her pre- and mid-blind years, she worked for Microsoft and Osborne/McGraw-Hill as a senior technical editor. Under their imprint, she authored seven programming books. As a side job, she airbrushed fantasy artwork on Harley Davidson motorcycles until she could no longer see well enough to continue.
Succumbing to the inevitability of blindness, Rowena was coaxed—no, begged—by family and friends to attend the Occupational Training Center (OTC) in Seattle. There, she learned the vital skills required to live as an independent blind person. It was one of the best decisions she ever made. She witnessed the unbridled skills that blind people possess and learned a valuable lesson: Blind people are not void of sight, they merely see life in a whole new way.
Eventually, her right eye gave up the fight, but her left eye hangs on with 2 percent field of vision and light perception. Sometimes, when the light is just right outside, she can see ethereal colors surrounding objects like magical halos. These colors are exactly what she tries to capture in each of her creations.
So, how does a blind person create art? One pixel at a time. With the help of technology, blind folks can do just about as much as sighted people can. The only limitations on life are those we place on ourselves.
In Rowena’s spare time, when she is not tending her art gallery, creating art, designing logos and marketing brochures, she writes novels and records audio books for Learning Ally. Her award-winning paranormal series “The Spirian Saga” has been touted as inspirational and thought-provoking by Reader’s Favorite. Her first novel in the Spirian Saga, “Protected,” won the National Best Book Award in 2010 and the Reader’s Choice Award in 2011.
Rowena lives in beautiful Colorado with her deaf husband, Gregg. Together they enjoy hiking, drinking fine wine and living life as if every moment is their last.