Paraplegic Artist Uses His Mouth To Paint Hawaii’s Vivid Colors

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Moses Hamilton, was 26 years old and recouping from a auto accident that left him paralyzed from the torso down when he was provided a mouthpiece fastened to a paintbrush. This became one of the more demoralizing times of Moses Hamilton's life was when he tried to paint in early 2003. He struggled to stroke it over the canvas.

After his accident he was participated in an art program at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific in Hawaii. A teacher was trying to show a group of people with disabilities how to paint with their mouths.

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While at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific in Hawaii he started painting in an art program. The teacher was attempting to demonstrate to a class of people with disabilities how to paint with their mouths. "I was in recovery, but I was still mentally distraught," he told The Huffington Post. "That first painting actually brought me down. It was so hard to do anything with my mouth. I told myself I couldn't do this."

o-PAINTING-OUTSIDE-570Hamilton soon threw in the towel. When Hamilton dismissed himself the art program, the teacher gave him some mouthpieces so he could give it a try again later.

"Hey, you never know," he said the teacher told him. "Maybe, but maybe not," Hamilton replied.

Today, Hamilton has created more than 200 paintings, which he sells on his website Now 39 years old, he tries to paint four to five days a week for at least four hours a day. On average, according to Kauai news site The Garden Island, it takes him 25 hours to finish an 11-by-14 painting.

o-RAINBOW-SKY-570He says it took "patience, practice, perseverance and a lot of passion", what Hamilton calls, "the P's of painting" to get to his level of skill. It also took time to convince himself it was worth giving art another try.

It was over a year after his move back to his home island of Kauai before he picked up the mouthpieces to try painting once more. "It started off as a hobby, then it snowballed," he said. "I was getting better and gaining more confidence."

He first mastered holding the paintbrush steady, and and then started off utilizing colors inspired by the islands. This quickly transitioned into painting outdoors which quickly became one of his favorite things to do. Gradually, other people acquired interest in his work, and he started selling his painting. Hamilton now states, "painting soothes my soul."  "It sets me free from being in a wheelchair," he told HuffPost. "I might not be moving my body, but I am moving something on the page. I’m creating my own moments, freedom on the canvas."

o-UKULELE-570If your on the islands, you can often find Hamilton painting in the outdoor plaza of the Ching Young Shopping Center near Hanalei Beach. It is by far his preferred place to paint and chat with curious passersby.

According to sources, Hamilton uses watercolor and acrylic to paint Kauai's beaches at sunrise, sunset and moonrise. He also paints the beach's perfect curling waves, relying on his memories of riding the surf to bring the swells to life.

His paintings include portraits of the culture and people of the Hawaiian islands, typically Native Hawaiians in traditional garb, Filipino fieldworkers, women in kimonos and hula dancers. His style includes  intricate patterns and bright vivid colors. Hamilton once described his artistic style as, "exaggerated impressionism," according to Honolulu's MidWeek.

Hamilton desires for his art to expand and wishes to try new methods and new textures. However, for now, he's content just selling his art. "Half the fun is being able to share it," he says, and enjoying the natural beauty of his lifestyle on Kauai.

o-FIRE-ON-MOUNTAIN-570"The islands (Hawaiian) are more than just a physical experience," Hamilton said. "The feeling is all bright; it's golden, it's a tropical feeling. We're living under a rainbow. I live in a place filled with magic and colors."

Prior to his accident, Hamilton surfed big waves, lived an energetic lifestyle and worked at numerous restaurants and hotels. In his own mind, he was a rockstar and a "big, strong man," he says.

Now, very humbled, he can hardly shake his arms and can use his right arm to push his wheelchair.  He is not able to move his fingers, feed himself or pick up things. Hamilton now admits his life now is challenging; he relies on his parents for simple movements. He said he takes a lot of deep breaths to discharge the aggravation he feels when he thinks of "all the things I don't have anymore -- the opportunity to surf and have a more normal life."

"It’s been a very humbling experience; kind of ego-crushing," he said. "I've had to learn to let go of ... that exciting life that I lived before. Now my life is quiet, simple, but it's a good life, too." Maybe should all take a step back and learn from Hamilton.

o-HENDRIX-570Inspiration if you look, he says, isn't hard to come by, but he has to remind himself to live with an "attitude of gratitude." "Happiness isn't handed to you," he said. "It takes work to be happy. You've got to find it and find your own way in life."  Wow, how prophesizing for a man who has had so much taken away.

"It’s definitely a daily lesson in letting go," he adds, "in being calm and accepting the fate I have."

Below are some additional of Hamilton's radiant and energetic creations that bring the Hawaiian islands to life.

o-MOON-AND-MOUNTAINS-570 o-PANIOLO-570o-NAPALI-MOON-570 lgMoses Hamilton is a tribute to the culture of Hawaii, and the human race, and a living testament of  the Aloha spirit. If you want to see Moses Hamilton in action, check out the  following video.



If you'd like to purchase prints or originals of Moses Hamilton's work, visit his website at and follow him on Facebook

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