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Artists Different After Disease

Even a minor stroke can change the way painters create art. Their painting style can change, as well as the colors they choose. In the Journal of Neurology, scientists report on their studies of two professional painters, both of whom had a stroke, and how it changed their art.

In one artist, the stroke was in the occipital lobe of the brain, which is involved in processing visual imagery. The second artist had a stroke in the limbic thalamus, which is connected to the frontal lobes of the brain, the seat of creativity. After resuming their work, neither painter changed the types of subjects he chose. But an art critic noted that both had definite changes in style.

In the first case, the 57-year-old right hander who had a stroke in the occipital lobe began painting the human body as thinner, with sharper lines. His art became less realistic and more abstract. The painter said that before his stroke, he visualized the canvas he wanted to paint before picking up his brush, but he was no longer able to do this. Instead, after his stroke, he found his inspiration came a little at a time, while he was painting.

The second case was a 71-year-old who was ambidextrous, but used his right hand more than his left. This reversed after his stroke and he began to use brighter colors and bolder contrasts in his work. His work became more realistic, rather than less. The human spirit is incredibly resilient, as shown by the fact that neither artist stopped painting.

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

Anne Strieber recently had a stroke, in the form of a burst aneurysm, which she and Whitley have written about extensively in their diaries and journals.

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