When David Rentfro was diagnosed with a brain tumor while he was in his 20s, he never expected he’d ever have a career as an artist.
He was diagnosed with the tumor at age 23 and was given only six months to live.
But he overcame all the odds, and now, at age 51, is putting on his first art show since 1990. He also has a few paintings on display in the Paul Henry Art Gallery in Hammond.
It wasn‘t until after Rentfro got married that he decided to pursue his passion for painting. Before his tumor, he was right handed. He had to learn how to paint and draw using his left hand. But he persists with his painting, and has created acrylic paintings in sizes ranging from 16 inches by 20 inches to 4-foot by 4-foot.
“My mom gave me an acrylic paint set, and I stuck with that,” he said. “My mom always had faith in me. When she suggested I learn to paint left handed, I thought she was joking. [But] I can do everything with my left hand now. It just takes 10 times longer.”
He has 20 paintings on display in the Cornerstone Gallery, and said he is inspired by everything from landscapes and water to the Chicago skyline and animals.
He wants visitors to the gallery to feel like they’re a part of the painting.
“I want people to feel like they’re walking through a forest of mine or feel the warmth of the summer breezes,” he said. “I want them to be able to put themselves in my artwork.”
He said he feels he progresses as an artist with each painting he produces.
“Each one is my favorite. I think each one is better than the last,” he said.
Rentfro, who is permanently disabled because of his tumor, has a passion for his work.
“God has a purpose for me, and I’m hoping that this is my purpose,” he said.