Artist with birth defect inspires by painting with mouth

Artist with birth defect inspires by painting with mouth

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PHOENIX -

A valley artist is gaining a lot of attention -- not just for his actual drawings and paintings -- but for the incredible process he goes through to create them.

"Painting for me is a language," says artist Kirk O'Hara. "I like to paint anything from my experience. I started professionally when I was 15. Had my first thousand dollar showing at age 17 which is a marker in an artist's life."

"I was born with arthrogryposis, it's a congenital birth defect. It's caused me limited use of my arms and legs. When I was very young I actually started writing with my hand. I switched to my mouth in first grade. I had much more dexterity, I was able to use it much easier so I just switched to that."

We asked: Did you even think twice when you were a child, using your mouth to paint?

"I don't think I planned on turning this into a career but it definitely enriched my life. I liked doing it."

What was it like the moment you sold your first painting?

"I loved it, gave me a lot of confidence as a kid. Gave me a lot of confidence in myself, I needed that you know. I got to a point in my life early on in life where it was a pretty dark place I struggled with a lot of that."

When people first see you painting what is their reaction?

"A lot of people are inspired. That makes me happy."

On average how long does it take to finish a painting?

"There are some that I do at my shows, I'll finish one in four hours," says Kirk. "In my studio I'll spend anywhere from a week to a month and a half working on a piece. It can take a long time for some of them."

What do you like to paint the most?

"I'm constantly experimenting, pushing the boundaries of my work. The freer I am in that area the more I can say I believe. I've had people that have inspired me. If I can give that back and inspire someone else and share that with somebody that's awesome."

He adds, "You can do anything. As long as you apply yourself you can do anything."

You can find Kirk O'Hara at First Fridays. He also his own art shows here in the valley. He just had one earlier this month.

For more information: www.kirkohara.com

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