Bendigo artist Simon Rigg and New Zealander Kevin Griffiths, are good friends who both paint by holding the brush in their mouths and have combined their talents, in the latest mid-year range from the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.
Simon, who has a beautiful cursive ‘hand’, has written the letter by holding the pen in his mouth that introduces the product range and is mailed to supporters throughout Australia.
Both are members of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.
Kevin’s contribution to the range is a painting called ‘Coastal Poppies’, which appears on an ‘all occasion’ card.
The MFPA is an international body with 850 members around the world who earn their income through the sale of greeting cards, jigsaws, puzzles and other products illustrated with their paintings, although the artists can also undertake their own private commissions or stage exhibitions. Jigsaws are proving to be very popular during the current home isolation and sales have increased by more than fifty percent.
Simon lives at Shelbourne, which is a quiet rural community about 18 kilometres from Bendigo with his eldest daughter Amy, who is Simon’s carer and runs a refuge for about forty unwanted horses
Simon said that it sometimes took him several days to write the letter, which he sometimes tackles a paragraph at a time and has even had to go back to start again when he has made a spelling mistake.
“I have been told by an expert that my foot writing is actually like my original handwriting when they have compared it to things I had written before my accident,” Simon said.
Simon has been a quadriplegic since 1982 when he fell ten feet to the ground while he was repairing the roof of the shed at the back of his property. He initially learned to write with a pencil when he was in rehabilitation at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, before he learned to paint with a brush.
The clarity and consistency of Simon’s mouth writing sets a standard that few able-bodied hand writers could emulate.
In describing the mid-year range from the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, he said that it contained some excellent examples of floral cards ‘for all occasions’ including one of ‘Coastal Poppies’ by his good friend, New Zealander Kevin Griffiths.
Kevin Griffiths said that the inspiration for the painting came from several sources, as the overall scene is a painting of Auckland Harbour with Rangitoto Island in the distance.
“On this I have superimposed a selection of red, yellow and white poppies, which is a flower I’ve always loved as the petals are so soft and colourful and I remember that a close friend had pink ones in his garden a number of years ago when I lived in Auckland.
“It is also a subject that I feel will be popular with the consuming public for the eye-catching colour of the greeting card, which I assume is why it has been selected by the adjudicating committee for sale to a world-wide audience.
“In fact, I always think of poppies around Anzac Day as my birthday is on the actual day,” Kevin said.
The choice of a painting of poppies is also a good choice as an illustration for an ‘all occasion’ card as it is a flower liked by all.
As well as ‘all occasion’ cards, the mid-year range of cards from MFPA, which will be sent out widely to consumers in New Zealand and Australia, comprises gift wrapping paper, place mats, puzzles, playing cards and jigsaws with all the products illustrated with paintings by artists who paint by holding the brush in their mouth or with their foot.
The jigsaws are proving to be very popular during home isolation with sales up more than fifty percent.
Kevin has now been mouth painting for 25 years after he broke his neck and lost the use of his hands in a swimming accident at age thirteen. Following his accident, he continued his education and became interested in various forms of art, which inspired him to travel extensively throughout the world.
The Mouth and Foot Painting Artists is a self-help organisation was founded in 1956 by a group of European artists and gives people with disabilities the opportunity to fulfil their creative ambitions while still maintaining financial independence by selectively selling their artworks.
The MFPA was established in Australia and New Zealand in the 1970s 1971 and currently has twenty-five members in both countries.
To become a student member an artist must qualify by painting using a brush held in either their mouth or foot, having lost the use of their hands through an illness or accident. Student members receive scholarships for art supplies and tuition. Once an artist becomes a full member or associate they are guaranteed a salary for life, even if they are unable to continue painting.
For further information on the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists contact MFPA on (02) 9698 3933 or visit www.mfpa.com.au.
Released for MFPA by Dennis Rutzou Public Relations