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The Bonus Pictures

This artwork designed by Daniel Roberge was made possible by digital technology that allowed the painter to continue to create after he suffered a stroke in 2008. His work is featured in a new exhibit at St. Kieran Arts, which opens on Sept. 9. Photo courtesy of St. Keiran Arts Center. (click for larger version)
September 08, 2010
BERLIN — Not everyone gets a second chance at life.

That's the lesson artist Daniel Roberge learned from the stroke that paralyzed the his right side of his body. Every day since February 12, 2008, is a gift.

"Pretty much everything since the stroke is a bonus," he said.

When it happened he was 54, and he wasn't expected to survive the helicopter flight to the hospital. Fourteen months after the stroke, when he first was released from the nursing home, his physical therapist hoped he might one day sit up unassisted.

"My right side became totally paralyzed," he said. "I was pretty much bound to stay in bed.

With his right side paralyzed, Mr. Roberge, a painter and photographer, lost the use of his dominant hand.

But tomorrow St. Kieran Arts Center will open a show of his work, including paintings from both before and after his stroke.

"It feels good to have this second chance," Mr. Roberge said.

He calls this show "the Bonus Pictures," because every new piece is a piece he never expected to be able to make.

"I've never been one to show old stuff," he said.

He said he got a call earlier this year from Joan Chamberlain, St. Kieran's executive director, asking if he would like to hold a show. He agreed, but when he hung up the phone he realized he wouldn't be saying anything new if they just hung his old works on the wall.

But instead of picking up a brush, he picked up a tablet. He now uses a computer program, Corel Painter, with a tablet and digital paintbrush.

"It allows me to correct my mistakes," he said.

He's had to switch to using his left hand, as his right is still outside his control.

"You can adjust. There wasn't much choice."

Using the computer program has allowed him to go back to what he loves: creating art, which he calls "the struggle."

"I guess I'm back in the struggle," he said. "Now it's just a matter of saying how far can you take it from this point."

Despite hard days, his outlook is bright.

"I'll never go running down the street again, but at least I can walk. I can drive."

And he can paint.

The experience has changed him as an artist.

"It's make me care less about what people think," he said.

He is just happy to be back in the struggle.

The opening reception for the show at St. Keiran Arts Center is Thursday, September 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., alongside a photographic show called Scrapbook: History and Vision. There will be an artist talk and guest speakers at 6:45 p.m.

Martin Lord Osman
Brewster Academy
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