A painter in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood brings a special brand of talent which he didn’t know he had growing up and it’s paying off.
From brush to canvas, it doesn’t take long to see Antonio Davis’ talent.
"I love the texture and the feel of the oil paints" Davis says. "As a kid, it just came naturally. I’ve been painting now, actually, all my life."
"If you asked anybody in my family they knew somehow I would always become an artist."
But look at the whole picture and you realize the worlds he creates on canvas come from a different perspective one of just a few artists who paint by mouth.
"I remember falling to the ground and not being able to move."
In 1994, a friend fired a gun and shot antonio in the chest.
"They told me I had a spinal cord injury and that I would never actually be able to pick up anything."
Antonio used therapy to help restore some movement to his arms and hands but he found his voice by using his mouth to create the art he’d always loved.
"I challenged myself to make sure those words wouldn’t be my life."
For nearly 20 years now, with his wife Juanita by his side, Antonio, who’s now 39, has made good on that promise.
Not just making art but making a living through his work with the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Organization, based in Atlanta.
"They support 812 artists around the world and I don’t think any of us are struggling thanks to them."
Much of his art, is made into cards and prints, and sold by the MFPA.
He also does commissions. It can take from three to six months to complete a work, transporting his creative soul.
"It’s also an escape from living in a wheel chair day-to-day. I mean, because when you imagine things and you let your imagination take flight, you take flight. you can escape. "
It’s a masterful talent which he says continues to evolve in his mind and his mouth.
"I haven’t created my masterpiece yet, so I figure I haven’t mastered it yet. I’m still looking for that Mona Lisa. I’m still looking for it."
You can find out more about Antonio Davis' work on his web site www.tonedavis.com