Blackwell was a 19-year-old art student when a fall left him legally blind, with minimal peripheral vision. Despite his injuries, he continued to study art at the Sacramento City College and received his Bachelor of Arts in sociology from California State University in 1975. Blackwell’s life-long love of jazz music serves as the inspiration for his energetic paintings. His work has been included in exhibitions across the United States. He is also a poet and playwright. His published plays and poems include, Is, The Color of Mississippi Mud and The Fiery Response to Love’s Callings, among other works. In collaboration with jazz drummer Billy Toliver, Blackwell has produced three spoken-word albums. Currently, Blackwell resides in the San Francisco area where he is very active in the artistic community. He organizes writers’ workshops and community cultural arts events for the Faithful Fools agency and The Hospitality Community Arts program in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. In 2014, Blackwell was the Art Ability Featured Artist.