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Technology enables painter with disability to keep creating art

Portland, Oregon

Tuesday 1 September
Technology enables painter with disability to keep creating art

September 01 at 08:30

Michie O’Day’s reality changed nearly 20 years ago when she went deaf.

“I have a very serious illness. It’s called “Neurofibromatosis Two.” It’s a genetic disease that suppresses the element that makes a body stop tumours from growing. Michie’s mother had the same condition. She died at 46.

Tumours on her auditory nerve caused Michie to lose her hearing over time. In 1996 when she woke up from yet another surgery, Michie, 39 at the time, was completely deaf.

“On long car trips driving by myself, I just had to listen to my own thoughts. That’s when I realized I’m a little bit nutty!” Michie joked.

Whether she’s nutty is up for debate, but her talent is not. Michie is an accomplished oil painter — a craft she picked up in her late 20’s. Her paintings have sold for thousands of dollars over the years, but two years ago, Michie, once again, had to adjust.

“My right hand shakes a little bit, and I could no longer grasp the brushes, much less control the brush,” said Michie.

Not only did her disease cause her to go deaf, benign tumours growing in her brain and spine are now also causing Michie to lose her balance.

Despite her disability, Michie didn’t want to give up painting entirely, so she got a little creative.

“It’s the pleasure of finger painting. Remember when you were a kid?”

Using one finger, an iPad, and a high-tech painting app, Michie is creating digital paintings with as much detail and depth as her oil paintings.

She dedicates hours and hours to choosing each pixel of paint. Her right index finger acts as each meticulous brush stroke. It allows Michie to paint with as much joy as she did when she first picked up a paintbrush.

“Not to be crass, but once the sound was out of the way, and all I had was vision, you can study things more intently. You have to study things more intently.”

So now Michie has become a student of digital art.

“Technology is my friend,” she said.

As technology allows her to keep painting, Michie also hopes technology will help find a cure for her rare disease.

“I may die from this. I probably will, but not yet.”

Photo caption: Michie Michie demonstrates how she uses technology to continue with her passion for painting.

Article source: WGME