Around seven years ago, Fraser was vacationing in Portugal away from his home in the UK, when he dove into what he thought was a deep section of the sea. In reality, it was a sand bank. The impact crushed his spinal cord and displaced several of his neck vertebrae, leaving him permanently paralyzed from the shoulders down.
A time lapse video of me mouth painting (start to finish).— Henry Fraser (@henryfraser0) May 10, 2016
I'm only physically able to use my mouth. 😃 pic.twitter.com/KrDemz6fV0
His life has not been easy since then, with surgeries and sicknesses becoming frequent occurrences. About a year ago, the former rugby player was getting bored after being stuck in bed with an illness, and it was then that he discovered an app on his iPad that allowed him to draw when he held a stylus in his mouth and touched it to the screen. He loved the app, and soon moved on to non-digital drawing, attaching brushes and pencils to a mouth stick to create his works.
Since then, he has been painting anything from animals to actors to sports champions whom he admires. His work has attracted the attention of the public, and he counts celebrities like soccer player David Beckham among his admirers. A pencil drawing he did of golfer Rory McIlroy for a charity golf day caught the attention of McIlroy himself, who ended up contacting Fraser and donating his own items to the charity golf day.
My mouth painting. (Only physically able to use my mouth).— Henry Fraser (@henryfraser0) March 22, 2016
It's 'The King Of The Jungle'. pic.twitter.com/MSPorVDyYs
Several news outlets have noted the remarkably positive outlook Fraser has maintained about his life in spite of his hardships. He has said that without the illness he had when he discovered the iPad app, he never would have rediscovered his love for drawing and painting. And on Twitter he’s reflected that he would probably have a boring life now if not for his accident, concluding that adversity has given him a gift.
This man chased me down the street for this photo!— Henry Fraser (@henryfraser0) July 3, 2014
If you can't tell, I'm very happy! Nicest bloke ever! pic.twitter.com/AC44z4BD09
You can learn more about Henry Fraser on his website and Twitter feed, as well as from CNN, Newsweek, and The Telegraph.