Please meet our Canadian Artists. To learn more about an individual artist, or to view an example of their work, please see below.
Penny Oman was born and raised in Sexsmith, a small town of northern Alberta. At the age of fourteen, when she was an active, easy-going teenager, she was involved in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down.
After spending a year in the University Hospital in Edmonton, Penny spent the next three years at the Glenrose School Hospital. It was during this time that she attended a lecture tour by the late mouth painter Myron Angus, an artist member of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. Always interested in painting, she was immediately determined to try his painting technique.
Years later when Penny was becoming more independent, she began painting by mouth and submitted her work to the Association. She was accepted as a student artist in 1978. The Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists has reproduced her works in their calendars and on cards since that time. Painting mostly landscapes, she is able to exhibit and sell her paintings through the origanization and on her own.
Penny studied at the University of Alberta and took further courses through its extension program to further develop her painting skills. She has taught others to develop their artistic talents and contributed her time to visit schools and hospitals.
Penny also plays an active role helping people understand the obstacles faced by people with disabilities and the importance of reducing unnecessary barriers. For several years, Penny was on the Provincial Committee for National Awareness Week as well as serving on other Boards.
Penny became an Associate Member of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists in 2001.
Pictured above: "River through the woods"
Debra Kessler, who now lives in BC, is a Metis woman of Cree and European Ancestry who was born and raised in southern Manitoba. She was injured in a terrible farming accident in the Summer of 1999. In a matter of seconds, her life was forever changed. Debra's injuries were so severe that both of her arms had to be amputated above the elbow, her right leg was paralyzed and she suffered 2 incomplete spinal fractures and 15 broken ribs.
Debra already had started painting before her accident. With much determination, Debra decided to learn to paint with a brush held in her mouth. She discovered she could continue her great passion for art. Deb loves to paint landscapes, life paintings and native subjects and she is constantly striving to improve her artistic abilities. A truly inspiring and determined lady who, after a very bad accident, chose to be an inspiration to others who face difficulties in their lives.
It is with great dedication and perseverance that Deb obtained her Fine Arts Degree from Kamloops Thomson's River University in 2018.
Deb joined the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists in 2011.
Pictured above: "Nesting Duck"
Born and raised in Surrey, B.C., Kaileen now lives in an apartment in Burnaby with the assistance of the CSIL program which provides her with her own 24 hour care. At the age of 6 months, her parents noticed that she was not developing quite right. She underwent many tests and was then diagnosed with a congenital progressive peripheral neuropathy. The specialists were unable to pinpoint an exact diagnosis but her condition consisted of many of the same attributes as Spinal Muscular Atrophy of type 2.
Kaileen has been power wheelchair bound since she was 8 years old. She could use her hands in some ways up until about 18 years old. Since then, she can’t write, feed herself, or do anything with her hands. She also needs to be BiPAP dependent which means that she is on a breathing machine.
She graduated high school in 2009 and took some college and university courses at Douglas College and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She also obtained a Certificate in Web Design and Optimization through an online program.
She first started to use her mouth to paint in late 2017 when she decided that she no longer wanted to sit at a computer all day. She started with watercolours but has now also tried acrylic paints. Her goal is to continually improve her skills and knowledge and create art that provokes emotions within people. She enjoys painting human forms and silhouette outlines.
Kaileen is also involved in a group called L3 (Let’s Live a Little) which consists of volunteers and community professionals who offer support for young adults with progressive disabilities and life limiting illnesses. She is well surrounded by a loving family, numerous friends, her boyfriend Alex and her mischievous cat Kiki.
We welcome Kaileen as the newly added mouth painting student artist of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, effective March 2019.
Pictured above: "Disheartened"
The abrupt halt to a young, active, sports-oriented life just reaching adulthood is among life's worst tragedies. Cody Tresierra, 19 at the time, now counts himself lucky that his life was spared when a motor vehicle accident left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Born in Ashcroft, British Columbia, and raised in Clinton, Cody was living in Quesnel with his family at the time of the accident. Transferred to the extended-care Pearson Hospital in Vancouver, he took up mouth painting as a form of therapy.
Encouraged and guided by instructor Betty Black, he became more enthusiastic as his previously unknown talent surfaced. Cody has subsequently taken private tuition to develop his talent and excels in oils, especially landscapes and seascapes.
Cody joined the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists in 1986, which supports him to pursue his artistic career ever since. He became a Full Member of the Association of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists in March 2000.
I felt pretty devastated when I was first told that I would not get the use of my limbs back, he says. But after that, I just concentrated on getting on with my life. I was lucky that I was young, and young people are adaptable.
Cody maintains a lively interest in music, sports and all forms of the arts, and now lives with his wife in Cloverdale, British Columbia.
Pictured above: "Landscape"
Rick Laird was born in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. More than 30 years ago, a car accident left Rick with a severe spinal cord injury that paralyzed both his arms and legs. Although Rick is confined to a wheelchair, he has not let his disability stop him or hold him back and has held many jobs since his accident. He is not only interested in art but also in photography, playing chess and attending rural exhibitions. He loves horses. He is truly an inspiration to the people around him.
He enjoys painting all types of artwork but concentrates on landscapes and flowers. He has attended many art classes (including Adobe, design photography and illustration) to improve his technique and is very keen to establish himself as a prominent disabled artist.
Rick joined the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists in 2012.
Pictured above: “Shannon Falls”
Shane Lynch, from Kentville Nova Scotia, was paralyzed in both his arms and his legs due to a car accident in 1992. Although disabled, Shane is a very accomplished artist who is totally self-taught, producing works that convey the beauty of the wonderful nature that surrounds him. He also holds a Business Administration and Accounting Diploma. His interests, apart from painting, are computers, reading and radio controlled cars.
He prefers to paint landscapes and animals in Acrylics and Oils and, even though he is self-taught from DVD's and instruction books, he also improves his technique through art classes in his local area.
Shane joined the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists in 2012.
Pictured above: "Winter Church"
Susie Matthias is from London, Ontario. As a result of the drug Thalidomide, she was born without arms or legs. Despite her obstacles, she has always retained a positive outlook on life and the things that she can accomplish. Throughout her childhood and early adolescence, Susie discovered a talent for art. She excelled in painting and, with the support of her family, she developed her mouth painting technique.
Susie began showing promise as an art student at a young age. After high school, Susie pursued her passion by taking art courses at Saunders Secondary School, a school for the arts in London, and spent a year at Fanshawe College in Fine Arts.
In the early 1990's, Susie was introduced to the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA), which has provided her with the opportunity to focus on her art career full time by providing her with an income. In 2000, one of Susie's paintings won a national competition and was featured on the special Christmas stamp issued by Canada Post. Susie became a Full Member of the Association in March 2009.
Susie's work is now highly sought after with famous people such as astronaut Chris Hadfield and former lieutenant governor David Onley, both proud owner of one of her paintings. Even Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was given a painting from Susie as a gift from Canada. Susie also writes children's stories and, currently, she is working on illustrating a book which will be published in the near future.
One of her favourite pastimes is swimming which gives her relaxation away from her busy painting schedule. She has competed for fun in regional games and has won several medals and ribbons in her category. Susie also enjoys electric wheelchair floor hockey, wheelchair ballroom dancing and boccia.
Susie still lives in London in her own apartment and enjoys visiting with friends and her eight siblings. She has become quite famous in her home town and is often approached by people when on bus or attending public events.
In 2018, she was chosen to receive the Leading Woman, Leading Girls Building Communities Award presented by her local member of parliament.
Pictured above: "Self-Portrait"
Amanda Orichefsky started her life with a severe disability, which she learned to overcome at a very early age. Amanda was diagnosed with Arthrogryposis at birth. Her feet were up near her face when she was born and she started surgeries at three weeks of age to lower her legs and feet down to a normal level.
The loving care Amanda received in her home made it possible for her to build a great self-esteem in spite of her physical disability. While she attended school, her sharp mind and witty personality made her numerous friends. She graduated from Sunnyview Public School and Don Mills High School. Amanda subsequently attended George Brown College where she is pursuing her diploma in Fine Arts & Animation. While in college, Amanda is taking courses to better her art technique, incorporating acrylic paint into her repertoire of materials.
Outside her school activities, Amanda keeps busy being part of various other groups such as: Police Games, Sunshine Games and activities at Variety Village, an organization for which is very dear to her heart. She represents Variety Village at such events as Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Argonauts games. She has also been involved in modeling clothing for disabled people.
Amanda was very thrilled when she was asked to give a demonstration of her mouth painting skills to Wayne Gretzky, which was filmed as part of a commercial for Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Amanda was accepted as a student of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists in 2003 and receives a scholarship to further her artistic talents.
Pictured above: "Cat and Mouse Chase"
Stéphane Daraiche was born in Longueuil, Québec, and developed to be a loving, clever and active lad when a sudden turn occurred in his young life. In August of 1975, he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle.
He suffered severe brain trauma and spent three and half months at Charles LeMoyne Hospital in Greenfield Park but awoke from coma when transferred to Marie-Enfant Hospital in Montréal. Fortunately, his intellectual capacities were not affected but he would remain quadriplegic with difficulty to speak.
Stéphane started writing and colouring with pencils in his mouth to pass his time and when his family realized his passion for art, they started buying him paint brushes and canvas.
He loved to paint and continued to explore and develop his talent over the years. With a preference for landscapes and flowers in oils, he has since held several exhibitions. In 2005, he was introduced to painter Marcel Morin, in Montréal, who made his studio available to him twice a week and Stéphane was accepted as a student member of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists in March of 2006.
Pictured above: "Parrot"
David Fleet attended Primary and Secondary school in his birth town of Quebec City. On completion, he took an interest in carpentry and decided to go to night school to learn the trade and to obtain the required permits. In 2002, he was hired by a large construction company where he contributed to build many houses and buildings. His primary hobbies, at the time, were sail boating and mountain cycling.
On his way home from work in August of 2008, he drove off the road and his vehicle overturned in the ditch. A broken spinal cord forced him to spend 1 ½ years in a rehabilitation centre. It was during his rehabilitation period, at Centre François Charron, that David was introduced to mouth painting. He immediately found a new passion and worked to develop this skill.
David has been a student member of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists since March 2015.
David is not allowing his disability get in the way. When away from his busy painting schedule, he continues to participate in sail boat racing.
Pictured above: "Sugar Shack"
Daniel Laflamme was born premature with cerebral palsy and never had the use of his upper limbs. The eldest of four children, he was brought up by loving and caring parents who encouraged and supported him in his determination to be independent.
A telecast showing a young girl without arms, using her feet to perform all kinds of tasks, stimulated him to follow her example. Thereafter, he swiftly learned to eat and draw by using his feet.
This new challenge expanded his way of expressing himself. At the age of 24, he was first introduced to painting. He took art lessons at the St. Joseph Convent in Sainte-Foy, Quebec, and showing great promise, he continued taking private lessons for three years. Daniel joined the MFPA in 1985 and his first work was reproduced as a greeting card that same year.
Daniel currently lives alone in his own apartment in Yamachiche, in the Mauricie region of the province of Quebec. He has worked very hard to become financially independent through his art. He prefers using oils when he paints and landscapes are his favourite subject. Daniel says that his surroundings in the beautiful Quebec countryside are a constant inspiration.
Besides painting, his interests are computers, sports, music, photography and crafts.
Pictured above: "Mallards in Pond"