Painting in the Dark
Rachelle Burk

Book cover image

Narrated By: Bronson Pinchot, Katherine Kellgren

Duration: 44 minutes

What to expect

In 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 curiosity 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.

This blind artist’s story will be an inspiration to young artists of all abilities.

This audiobook won the 2017 Wilbur Award for Best Youth/Children Audiobook. It was also a finalist for the 2017 New York Festivals International Radio Program’s awards for Best Nonfiction Audiobook as well as for Best Solo Narration.


Children’s / Teenage general interest: Biography and autobiography, Children’s / Teenage general interest: Art and artists, Children’s / Teenage personal and social topics: Disability, impairments and special needs

Listen to a sample

“A thoughtful biography that celebrates diversity and perseverance. Recommended.”

School Library Journal

“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 offers real insight into how obstacles raised by physical disabilities can be overcome with motivation and ingenuity…Informative as well as inspiring.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Bronson Pinchot’s measured, reverent voice is a great match for this account of Esref Armagan…Pinchot uses subtle changes in his tone to capture the young boy’s interactions with his father, who mentored him, and the author’s own thoughts and revelations about the artist. While Pinchot’s voice is light and cheerful for Armagan’s successes, it turns somber at the many challenges he faced. In a well-modulated voice often accompanied by soft reflective music, Kellgren delivers the author’s explanations of Armagan’s painting techniques, referencing certain pages in the book. Children with access to the print book will enjoy reading along while listening.”


“A story of talent, perseverance, and refusal to accept limitations.”

Deborah Stein Kent, National Federation of the Blind

“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

“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.”