Southend artist says stroke scare made him paint again
A man who took up painting after suffering a stroke said it has "changed his life".
Tony Wates, 69, from Southend, Essex, suffered partial sight loss after the health scare in 2014 and turned to art as a comfort during his recovery.
He said: "I could have died and I just had the urge to paint, to leave something behind. A record of my life."
He held the first exhibition of his work last month and sold some portraits for the first time, for up to £500.
But he said: "It's not about the money. I just want to impress and it's a wonderful feeling when someone says they like your work.
"Because I'm dyslexic, I didn't get praise for much at school, except for art, but I hadn't done any kind of artwork for more than 50 years."
The month-long exhibition, which ran at The Forum gallery in Southend, featured about 50 of his paintings.
"The great feedback from people was a real confidence boost and made me think 'I've arrived' and made me definitely wanted to put my work on show," he said.
One of his first subjects was his son - a soldier who was on tour in Afghanistan.
"I found it comforting to paint pictures of him while he was away. I felt closer to him," he said.
"I don't think I would have got into painting had I not had a stroke.
"A health scare makes you think about your mortality and focuses your mind. It's changed my life."