“Paintings are universal, there are no prerequisites to understand them. All it takes is your creative imagination,” Gaukaran Patil expresses through his feet via sign language.
A gifted painter from Chhattisgarh’s Bhilai district, Gaukaran was born without hands. He also has a speech and hearing impairment. But those are not disabilities for him.
In fact, he sees them as blessings in disguise, for he has a rare talent of painting with his feet. He can effortlessly hold a brush between his toes and create a stunning picture.
The 35-year-old was raised by a single mother along with two siblings in Bhilai. He also completed a Masters in Fine Arts.
Gaukaran’s school teacher was first to notice his talent and the wonders he could do with his feet.
“Though people around me found it strange that I was writing with my toes, my mother never gave up on me, and encouraged me to complete my education just like every other child. My teachers saw I was a natural when it came to drawing. The appreciation made me feel welcome. Besides, I truly enjoyed it,” he says.
After completing his education, Gaukaran started painting for a living, and so far, he has sold over 500 of them. All his paintings are sold via social media and through word of mouth.
Two years ago, he also joined the Kopal Vani Shravan Badhit Aavasiya Vidyalaya in Raipur to mentor hearing-impaired students in computers and painting.
His zeal and sincerity towards his artistic abilities also garnered the attention of India’s former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and Sonia Gandhi, who have purchased his paintings during their visits to the state.
Recently, a video featuring Gaukaran went viral. He was dipping his brush in the paint bottle with his toes and making a picture. It was uploaded on Twitter by IAS Priyanka Shukla.
“Gokaran Patil is a huge source of inspiration for those who give up after going through rough patches in life,” she wrote.
Here is a collection of Gaukaran’s stunning paintings:
Note: This interview was done with the help of Seema Chabra, a teacher at Kopal Vani. We thank her for translating the interview.
If you wish to support Patil by purchasing his paintings, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)