Typewriter Art

  • Nov. 28, 2014
  • #8500

Listen to Joni share the story of a man with cerebral palsy who created amazing works of art with one finger on a typewriter keyboard.

Typewriter Art

Hi, I’m Joni with a story that has the fragrance of Thanksgiving.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving yesterday, counting your blessings and thanking the Lord for His gifts in your life. And today I have a story that continues this theme of gratitude. It’s about Paul Smith. Paul was born with cerebral palsy and lived most of his life in a residential facility. But this man in his wheelchair did not feel confined one bit. Because Paul, early on, discovered that he had an incredible artistic talent. Thing is, his hands didn’t work, and he couldn’t hold brushes or pencils. What he could do, however, was sit in front of a typewriter and aim at individual keys. He could type with one finger, one key at a time, very, very slowly. And friend, that is how Paul discovered he could “paint,” as it were, beautiful pictures typing one key at a time. Actually, he narrowed it down to using just 10 symbol keys. With one hand over another to stabilize his movements, Paul typed using the 10 symbol keys against a black or colored ribbon.

And with those 10 keys he created a huge portfolio of hundreds of masterpieces.

And I don’t use that word loosely. Look, I'm an artist, and I know artistic talent when I see it. And when I watched this amazing video of Paul Smith at his old typewriter, I could hardly believe my eyes! He has rendered beautiful landscapes, seascapes, and beautiful portraits of people, including a remarkable rendering of the Mona Lisa. Paul’s faith is what really inspired him to create most of his artwork and he believed that his talent was a gift from God. When asked what keeps him going, he says, “My faith and my finger.”

Bless his heart, Paul passed away in the year 2007, but he is remembered with great fondness at the Rose Haven Nursing Center where he for so many years. The hallways of Rose Haven are lined with his framed originals, and his friends reflect that the artist was even more inspiring than his art. I believe it! Here’s the lesson: When people looked over Paul’s shoulder and watched him at work, ever-so-slowly punching one key at a time, they would often say, “Paul, I could never do what you are doing.” And Paul’s response? He would always grin and again, with great effort, he would say a brief line which reflected his positive attitude. He’d say, “Well, what can you do?”

Now I realize we’re on the radio and you cannot see the incredible artwork I'm talking to you about. But here’s how you can: I have posted on my radio page today a marvelous video showing Paul Smith at work in front of his typewriter. It is so sweet and so compelling — plus, it gives you an up-close and personal look at scores of his original renderings. So go to my radio page today, whether you are at your Desktop or using your i-Phone, go to joniandfriends.org and see it for yourself. Finally, since this is still Thanksgiving week, be sure to download your gratitude journal while you’re on my radio page. I mean, if Paul Smith with his severe cerebral palsy and living in a care center all those many years can look on the bright side of life, with God's grace, oh my goodness friend, so can you. So, I echo Paul’s question, “Today, what can you do?” Well, you can visit my radio page today at joniandfriends.org and be inspired!

*Artwork by Paul Smith, a self-portrait.

© Joni and Friends


Have You Been Encouraged?

  • Your email address will not be published with your comment or be displayed anywhere on our website.
  • We do not rent or sell your personal information to other companies or individuals.
  • For more information please see our privacy policy.