Quadriplegic artist in Whittier defies odds, uses mouth to paint

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Artist Frank Espinosa helps to bring his paintings to life uses extraordinary skill, but unlike other artists, the Whittier man uses his mouth to create each one of his pieces.

Artist Frank Espinosa helps to bring his paintings to life uses extraordinary skill, but unlike other artists, the Whittier man uses his mouth to create each one of his pieces.

"I was shot and paralyzed when I was 18," said Espinosa.

The shooting left Espinosa a quadriplegic. The 46-year-old says he began sketching to keep busy. Three years ago, a family friend recommend that he send some of his pieces to the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.

"I was sketching with a pen. I was just doing that to pass time. I started that way and ended up showing them and they let me know there was an organization," he said.

The organization awarded Espinosa a scholarship to purchase his paints and brushes. He now spends upwards of eight hours a day painting or learning techniques from other artists.

"It was difficult but eventually I started to getting more control of the paint brush," said Espinosa.

Espinosa draws inspiration from everyday life. His volume of work covers still life to classic cars. Some of his pieces have been commissioned by family and friends.

"Most of them I send to the organization, and what they do is they publish them on calendars and holiday cards," he said.

As an artist, Espinosa is inspiring others by showing what is possible.

"If there is something that they are interested in doing, to pursue it."

Espinosa is set to display his pieces at the Compound in Burbank on Jan. 26. He will also be giving a live demonstration.
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