Despite losing both her arms and the toes of her right foot in a train accident at the tender age of 4, Sheela Sharma, did not lose hope and trained herself to write and even paint with the help of her toes.
Now the 48-year-old artist from Lucknow regularly churns out evocative artworks with the help of her foot and her mouth. Some of her recent works have been included in a group exhibition by artists with disabilities in New Delhi.
The show titled 'The Gifted' was presented by The Art Spice Gallery at the Metropolitan Hotel in the national capital and is scheduled to continue till September 4.
Sheela, says she likes to draw and paint themes based on nature or women. The process is laborious but she does everything including mixing the colours, cleaning the paintbrushes and moving canvasses all by herself.
"My father never really understood art and wanted me to take up a 'safe' job but i wanted this to be my life," she says.
After losing her limbs in the accident, which also claimed her mother, life challenged her in many ways.
She says she to had to face a lot of criticism while she was trying to chase her dreams and passion. People found her way of painting strange and even told her that she could not continue to paint the way she did.
"People told me that it would not take me anywhere", says the artist who has been fighting against all odds to carve out a career as a painter.
"I want to request people that instead of discouraging a person who already has a challenge of overcoming his or her limitations, they should at least make a contribution by encouraging the person with disability," says the artist. "I want to be a successful artist known for my work and also open to train art aspirants."
The artist has exhibited her works widely in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Lucknow.
Meanwhile, the works of many artists who remained unstoppable in spite of disabilities have been showcased during the exhibition at the gallery.
Mukesh, who does not have both his lower limbs is another participant in the group art show. His oil paintings recreates the grandeur of the mountains and the charm of flowing rivers.
"I have not gone under any formal training but i enjoy oil painting and nature inspires my work," says Mukesh.
Renowned Kathak dancer, Shovana Narayan, inaugurated the show here recently said, "The gallery showcases some of the unique paintings by specially abled people. Each painting speaks volumes".
Touched by the emotions used in these paintings, she said "Aren't we more disabled. We have all the faculties but where have we lost our sensitivity."