Feet are Amazing! Anatomically designed to be nearly as dextrous as your hands, feet have an incredible potential for fine motor function. Unfortunately, most of us have lost touch with that potential; and then there are those who have had no choice but to develop it…
Tom Yendell was born with birth defects caused by Thalidomide, a morning sickness drug that had devastating side-effects for many babies born in the 1960s. Thalidomide babies often suffered missing or deformed limbs and extreme shortening of arms and legs. By the time the drug was pulled from the market, more than 10,000 babies worldwide had been born with a range of disabilities caused by the drug.
Tom, now in his 50s, was one of those babies; and the father-of-two from Hampshire, in the UK, was born without arms. Determined to lead a normal life he developed an amazing dexterity with his feet, and has become a world renowned artist – using his feet and his mouth to paint.
“Art is something I have always had a flare for. Even when I was as young as four I’d be scribbling and painting away with my feet. I hope my artwork proves that nothing is too big a hurdle in life.”
Marcos Santos, from Brazil, is another pedi-dextrous inspiration. Born with cerebral palsy, 42 year old Carlos has impaired speech and only one arm – which is deformed and incapable of any fine motor action. The-father-of-three is also a talented and successful artist, who pays the bills thanks to his artwork. With incredible dexterity Carlos creates beautifully detailed artwork using only his feet.
“I remember that in my teens I wanted to do something that would allow me to make a contribution to society, but because of my disability I soon discovered that working in any other profession would be difficult for me. I then remembered that I loved drawing as a child and that people would sometimes compliment me on my work. That was when I decided to improve my drawing and painting skills.”
And then there’s 44 year old Huang Guofu, whose love of art and sheer determination has him using his feet and his mouth to create some of the most sought after paintings in the world. Huang Guofu was involved in a tragic accident in which an electric shock forced him to have both of his arms amputated at the age of four. But undeterred and inspired by beautiful surroundings, at the age of 12 Haung started to teach himself how to paint using his feet. Sometimes spending all night awake trying to perfect his stroke, he eventually improved and began selling his work.