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The Eyes of an Artist – Mike Sager’s Story

Photo of artist Mike Sager standing next to four of his paintings
Artist Mike Sager

The old phrase “can’t see the forest for the trees” applies to Mike Sager, but in a very different way. Diagnosed with three different conditions including retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, and partial color blindness. Paint runs in Mike’s blood with his mother, grandmother and two aunts who are also artists.

Most of his paintings depict nature and rural settings, so while he is zooming in to paint a tree, he truly can’t see the forest around it. It is very clear, however that this Napoleon resident and Sight Center client doesn’t let his vision impairment keep him from doing what he loves to do.

With a mother, grandmother and two aunts who are artists, paint runs in Mike Sager’s blood. At age 10 he began sketching the famous Peanuts cartoon characters and quickly graduated to Disney favorites. Eventually he wanted to add color to his work so his mom showed him a few techniques. He proudly gazed upon his first painting at age 17 and knew in that moment that he had talent.

During the next four decades Mike continued to develop his skills by experimenting with different techniques and by being open to the possibilities that mistakes can bring. When a dropped paintbrush or an unplanned smudge leads to a new idea or technique, he refers to them as “happy accidents.”

Mike loves that moment when he steps back from a painting and can picture himself standing in the real setting. That’s when he knows a painting is done. He calls this the “wow factor.” He still remembers that feeling when he finished “Snowy Owl” his all-time favorite painting which still hangs in his apartment as a testimonial to his passion and talent.