The Doctors: Wheelchair Artist Tommy Hollenstein
On a show filled with inspiring medical stories, The Doctors spoke with Tommy Hollenstein, a man who turned adversity into art. Tommy grew up as a very active young man who loved to skateboard, surf and be outside. Sadly, a biking accident at the age of 24 caused Tommy to be paralyzed from the chest down.
Tommy always wanted to be an artist, but he never liked painting with the brush in his mouth, similar to the way that artist Joni, who we met on The Doctors’ First Annual Awards Show, does. Instead, Tommy rediscovered his love of art with the help of Weaver, his canine companion.
As Weaver began to grow older, Tommy had the idea to create a painting of Weaver’s paw prints and his own tire prints from his wheel chair. “If it wasn’t for the love of that dog, there was no way I would have ever thought of using this wheelchair to paint with,” Tommy explained.
Soon, Tommy was painting every single day. At his very first art show he sold nine paintings, including two to actor Joaquin Phoenix. Tommy is now a successful and prolific artist, just like he’s always dreamed.
The Drs: Tommy Painting Technique
Tommy joined The Doctors on set to demonstrate exactly how he paints. “It’s a little more technique than most people would think,” he explained. First, he applies paint to the wheels of his chair. Then, he strategically maneuvers the chair and wheels to apply the paint and create shapes. One painting can take anywhere from a day to three months to complete.
Tommy also shared a painting titled Find that he created specifically for The Doctors to enjoy. Just like he did, Tommy believes that everyone has to find their own talent and passion in life. Tommy’s incredible story and words of advice inspired Dr. Travis Stork’s Doctors’ Orders.
“Don’t squander the life you’ve been given – make it count,” Dr. Travis said.