Paul Smith was born with Cerebral Palsy in the 1920s. He creates incredible pieces of art using only one finger and the top 10 keys on an old typewriter. Paul Smith is a hurdle jumper!
He is an outstanding example of the ability to overcome adversity and achieve great things.
Paul was born on September 21, 1921, with severe cerebral palsy. He passed away on June 25, 2009, but left behind a collection of artwork that will be an his amazing inspiration for decades to come.
At age 11, Paul Smith taught himself how to create fantastic art using just his finger and a typewritePaul was unable to speak until age 16 and unable to walk until he was 32. He learned to do both. He taught himself how to be a master chess player. But at age 11, he taught himself how to create fantastic art.
Keystroke, by keystroke, he continued his collection of 100’s of pieces of art from a rest home later in life.
When someone says, “I can’t do that!”, Paul’s response was, “What can you do?”
The art that lines the halls of Rosehaven Nursing Center were inspired often by places Paul had lived or visited.
Paul became known worldwide as the “Typewriter Artist,” For 7 decades, this man who could not physically control a pen, pencil or brush, continued to create masterpieces.
Paul’s art was created using only top row of symbol keys – !, @, #, %, ^, _, (, &, ).
As he typed, he would secure the shift key to the locked position. He used his left hand to steady his right. Depending on the look Paul wanted to achieve, he would adjust the spacing to type the symbols and adjusted the roller to perfect spaces between lines.
As technology developed, and color ribbon became available, Paul would use his thumb to shade his pieces.
Paul never obtained a mainstream education. He was not taught to read or write. As a child, doctors were still recommending that children with cerebral palsy be institutionalized.
When Paul was born his doctors also didn’t believe he would live very long. He lived to the ripe old age of 85.
He admired Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,”, Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” and Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker,”
Working a couple hours a day, it took him anywhere from two weeks to three months to complete one piece.
As his art became well know, the demand for his pieces grew.
He signed his work by typing his name, usually along the bottom right corner of the page.
It is impossible to know exactly how many pieces Paul did during his lifetime. Some estimate it had to be more than 400 pieces.
You will want to watch this Dec 11, 2013 interview from KING-TV: “An extraordinary man with a severe disability creates incredible works of art using a typewriter.”
Then proceed to see more of the work Paul Smith did over the decades.
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