Art Focus: Fighting the pain – one brush stroke at a time

Art Focus: Fighting the pain – one brush stroke at a time

By Melissa Cohen

After a terrible diving accident left 35 year old Heiron Joseph in a wheelchair, his life changed forever and he found a hidden talent he had not yet discovered.
“In 2006 I was exposed to painting during my rehabilitation period and I nurtured this talent,” says Joseph as he glances at his latest piece of art. The aspiring artist paints entirely with his mouth because he has no function of his hands or fingers. He manoeuvres the paint brush in his mouth and then uses the brush to paint his artwork.

Joseph mentions that although he has been painting since 2006, there have been periods where he hasn’t painted for a while because he hasn’t been inspired enough. “I decided in January this year that I am going to take up painting as a career and focus on it full time,” discusses the painter.
Oil paint on canvas is Joseph’s favourite technique – he even does his rough sketches in oil paint. “I believe that my work is unique because it is raw. It is me and has my stamp on it,” he smiles, as he looks over at the painting again.
Joseph’s latest piece rests next to him during our chat and it is a picturesque scene of Table Mountain in the background, with the ocean and rocks in the foreground. This is some of the regular art pieces you can find Joseph painting. “I really enjoy painting landscapes like places along the West Coast. The typical beach house with the white houses and the boat,” he says.

Joseph is a resident at the Eric Miles Cheshire Home for the mentally and physically disabled in Milnerton. He spends long hours in the home’s lounge/painting area, where he paints all of his work. “It does take me a long time to paint a complete painting from start to finish. I would say it takes between 15 to 100 hours to complete a painting,” mentions Joseph.
“Many people bring me pictures of things that they want me to paint. I am inspired by the new things that people bring me, as well as pictures I find on the internet,” laughs the painter.

“If there is one thing that I want people to take from my work is that you shouldn’t take life for granted and I have learnt that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – that being painting for me,” says Joseph.
This is someone who takes his art very seriously and has high hopes and expectation for his work in the future. “I would really like to be seen as an established artist whose work is sought after,” grins Joseph as he stares out the window for a while and then refocuses on the present.

* If you are interested in Joseph’s artworks, call him on 060 503 3083, or search for him on Facebook under Heiron Joseph Nel.