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Stoke-on-Trent artist creates stunning illustrations painting only with his mouth

Ian Parker is a mouth painter from Stoke-on-Trent. LIVING spoke to the illustrator about his new book – Danny’s Dream

Ian Parker MFPA
Ian Parker was born with AMC

Danny’s Dream is a new children’s book illustrated by local Stoke-on-Trent artist Ian Parker (Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Publishing). 

Ian Parker, who was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), a condition that rendered him with permanently unusable limbs, spent two years painting all 35 illustrations for the book using a pencil and brush in his mouth. This is the first time a disabled artist has been involved in creating a children’s book that features a disabled child as the central character. 

Written by Victor Margiotta, Danny’s Dream (ages 3-8) is a heartwarming tale about overcoming adversity and never giving up. When Danny, the fastest runner at his school, suffers a terrible accident, he thinks his dream of winning an Olympic Gold Medal is over. Then one day he discovers something magical at the end of his Grandma’s garden that will change his life forever.. 

LIVING chatted to Ian about his working practice, the patience and skill required to create such intricate illustrations and how he came to be involved in such a unique book. 

1. When did you start mouth painting and drawing?

“I’ve been drawing with my mouth ever since I can remember – any opportunity with pencil or pen on lined or plain paper for hours. Painting took longer to achieve, I found it difficult to control the paint, but because I wanted to take art to exam level at school, I had to start taking it more seriously and get the hang of it.”

2. What sorts of pictures did you like to create when you were first mouth painting?

“They were things I was interested in at the time, so aircraft, dinosaurs and battle scenes. When I was about 13 I also started to take part in our school’s annual Christmas card design competition, with pictures of churches, robins or landscapes, so not so far from my usual subjects for the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists now!”

3. What was the best thing about studying for a degree in fine art?

“Meeting my future wife! But also it was great being in communal studio space and being able to develop my art practice along with other artists. It was the first time that I’d really been able to spend time on my own work, seeing how it would develop over three years.”

4. How do you feel about seeing your illustrations in print in a children’s book?

“As someone who loves books, it’s great to see the work come together in the form that it was designed for. I’ve had paintings bought, and designs on Christmas cards, which is brilliant – but this is very much on another level. Unlike a picture hanging on the wall or holding a single card in your hands, you’re interacting with the book and getting involved in it as you follow the words and images of the story. It’s very exciting!”

Foot and mouth painting artists
£10 www.mfpa.co.uk

Formed in 1957, the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists partnership is part of an international self-help association of artists (AMFPA) who paint without the use of their hands. There are currently 33 British artists and almost 800 artists from over 80 countries worldwide.

The MFPA is a partnership of disabled artists run by the artists themselves. The partnership reproduces its artists’ original paintings as unique greeting cards, calendars and a wide range of other products, which brings vital, financial security to its artists.

The MFPA (Mouth and Foot Painting Artists) has launched an online Christmas shop, where every card purchased directly supports artists like Ian. Danny’s Dream illustrated by Ian Parker and written by Victor Margiotta is available to purchase from www.mfpa.uk

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