Sometimes We Have To Make Lemonade...

Sometimes We Have To Make Lemonade...

by Vickie Lawrence

Sometimes life isn't fair. I was born with a lazy eye and weak vision in my right eye. By the time I was 18 months old I had had corrective surgery that straightened it so that it no longer looked at my nose. This was cosmetic and in no way helped the vision issues my right eye had. I thought everyone viewed the world the way I did and that I was just a bumbling, klutzy kid growing up. In grade school I was that kid that no one wanted on their team when it came time to choose players for baseball. I couldn't catch the ball, throw it or hit it with a bat! In junior high track and field, I'd jump too early, or too late, for the long jump... tripped over hurdles and struggled to pass the baton in a relay race. I just thought I was the clumsiest kid in the world. But I loved to draw and paint, and my subjects were always horses... my favorite animal on the planet!

“I needed to see an optometrist about my vision which had started to play up again. It was also when I discovered that I had zero depth perception. No one had ever told me!”

Team Work — The very first CP drawing I had ever done. I knew the medium had clicked with me because it won an award.

My mother was an artist... from a long line of artists... So we always had access to art supplies, books on art and were able to watch her draw and paint daily. My first passion was horses and when I turned 15 I started taking horseback riding lessons, which I had to pay for myself. My mother was raising 4 kids and there wasn't much left over for anything else. I worked after school and Saturday mornings, and got myself to the stable on Sunday morning for an hour in the saddle that felt like heaven. As time went by I started showing my klutzy side again and discovered I wasn't able to rate my horse correctly over a jump, or make my dressage transitions in a timely manner. Once again asking my horse to perform either too early or too late. This had begun when I was 18. I needed to see an optometrist about my vision which had started to play up again. It was also when I discovered that I had zero depth perception. No one had ever told me! Everything became crystal clear about the clumsiness I'd experienced all my life. My goals for competition riding ended there and then... I was never going to be a rider in the Olympics! While it was a hard lesson to learn for a teen, I did enjoy a career working with horses for 30 years, training saddle and harness horses, owning, breeding and teaching riding.

Gone Fishin’ — When I had trouble focusing my eyes, working on the crazy, random cork... and being able to look at the different components of this still life up close, was invaluable.

I hadn't worked on any art for a number of those years, being too busy having fun with the horses that were so wonderful. I began drawing in graphite in 1986 after marrying, having a family and my two kids were in school full time. I found people really liked my work. I worked a full time job, and I began painting in acrylic and watercolor in the evenings. But I wasn't enjoying the brush work because I was craving the detail I was able to achieve with a pencil. I spotted the Prismacolor Premier pencils in the art supply store where I shopped, and said to myself, “If I like drawing in graphite so much, maybe I'll like these colored pencils!” It was a match made in heaven! I took to them like a duck to water! They satisfied my unquenchable desire for incredible detail, and they are still my favorite medium to this day. I like combining them with other mediums also.

“Why I am able to do that... when I have no depth perception... why was I able to create such life-like 3D imagery?

Shades of Grey — This is one of my more recent CP drawings that combines mid tone washes of watercolor under the CP of the background and the sand footing.

I'm told all the time, that the art is better than the photograph. That they can't get over how 3 dimensional everything looks. So I asked my optometrist “Why I am able to do that... when I have no depth perception... why was I able to create such life-like 3D imagery?” It's because I use photo reference and the camera has flattened everything for me. While I can draw from life, it can be very difficult at times, when the eyes aren't cooperating. I have days when nothing wants to focus and working the details is impossible, so that's the time I spend on areas of a drawing that doesn't require my full attention. Like putting in base layers for backgrounds of foliage, grass or out of focus, fuzzy parts. I come back to the details when my eyes decide it's a good day to do them. I really enjoy still life because, as with the drawing Gone Fishin', I was able to pick up and look closely at the different components of that particular composition. I love that my mother kept the oil painting I did when I was 6. I felt that that little painting had mapped my destiny. That at the age of 6, I would follow my heart in the two things I was passionate about. Horses and art. If I were to lose the sight in my “good” eye, my life will change forever. No driving, television or reading. No detailed art work. So I remain positive, proactive and take care of that good eye! Adversity and struggle makes us stronger and more determined than ever, to follow our hearts... find a way... and do it anyway!


Vickie is a professional artist of 30+ years. She has used CP for at least 28 of those years and enjoyed every minute of it. Vickie exhibits her work as a member of UpTown Gallery Waterloo, ON and has a studio in Waterloo also. She is a member of CPSA, International Guild of Realism, KWSA and Art$Pay. Vickie teaches classes and workshops in CP and is a Soar Certified Instructor.

See more at:

Comments (10)

Vickie you are always in my top ten fav CP artists and now even more so knowing what determination you have in overcoming the problems with your vision and still being able to create such beautiful things .

Charlotte Hastings - Jan 30, 2020

I am dysflexic and have a lazy eye.. I started art about when you did and my first model was a horse. I loved drawing them.. Career took over for 30 years and then I picked it back up in 99. For me it’s a hobby because I just dont have the desire to put out a lot of energy to sell. Love your work and your story…

clydeine oglesby - Jan 30, 2020

Great article, Vickie!

Cathy Pascoe - Jan 30, 2020

What a great story! I would never have guessed you had vision issues. There are “artists” who have to have everything just right before they’ll even attempt to create something (and so hardly ever do), and then there are real artists who overcome huge obstacles because they just have to create. You’re definitely the latter and I salute you for it!

Denise Howard - Jan 30, 2020

Wonderful article Vickie. Despite your disabilities and short comings, you sure have become an incredible artist. Kudos for all of your accomplishments😍

Kathi Smith - Jan 30, 2020

Vicki, you’re one of the best, and you’ve earned it. You are so inspiring. And so good.

Kelly Welch - Jan 30, 2020

Your story is very inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing it. I have only been using colored pencils for two years, but in that time your name and artwork have stood out to me. Thank you for all the beauty you bring into the world.

Melodie Larsen - Jan 30, 2020

Great read Vickie! It’s great getting to know you on a more personal level other than a feed on Facebook! I so enjoy your beautiful horse renderings and you make me want to get back to my cp drawings. Which like you, I was always a graphite artist and my first delve into the world of colour was a set of Prismacolour pencils after seeing a pamphlet with the work of Bernard Poulin featured in it. Thank you for sharing your passion and your struggles!

Sheryl Boivin - Jan 30, 2020

I loved reading your article! Your artwork is an amazing testimony to your determination. I would never in a million years guessed that you had a depth perception problem. Your art is wonderful and I am one of your many fans!

Sherry Goeben - Jan 30, 2020

My…. Thank you all so much for your kind comments! I think that when a disability is your norm, you often don’t plan how you will overcome lifes obstacles on a conscious level, you just find ways to deal with it. Cheers! and thanks again everyone! <3

Vickie Lawrence - Jan 30, 2020

Leave your comment