Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Recognizing The Typewriter Artist

For 40 years, Paul Smith sat at his typewriter in Rose Haven nursing home in Oregon, creating masterful works of art.

These masterpieces were images, not novels, all created using the 10 top row of keys of: ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _

Smith suffered from severe spastic cerebral palsy at an early age, and the loss of fine motor control meant he had extremely limited movements.
Born in 1921, Smith's opportunities were limited—he wasn't given a mainstream education, or taught to read or write. It was 16 years before he learned to talk, and 32 before he learned to walk.

And yet, Smith grew up to be an inspiration—using a manual typewriter, he told his own stories.

By age 15, he'd discovered the typewriter and started making Typewriter ArtUsing his left hand to steady his right hand, he combined the various symbols to add texture—often making thousands of keystrokes on a single page. 

With this method, he was able to create shading so that his images actually gave off the impression they were charcoal drawing. Pieces often took weeks to month to complete.The advancement of technology introduced colored ribbons, allowing Smith to add color to his images.
At the time, using a typewriter meant positioning rollers and paper, and erasing mistakes was not an option. Recreating existing and recognizable work takes patience and painstaking skill, and Smith did so with extreme mastery.

Later in Life, Paul befriended a squirrel, who often was recreated in his work.

In 1967, Smith moved into the assisted living facility in 1967. He was able to continue making art until 2004 when his cataracts made it too difficult. Smith died in 2007 at the age of 85, leaving behind a legacy of determination and admirable work.

Watch journalist John Stofflet's time spent with Smith above.You can read more of Smith's story here.

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