Twenty years ago, an electrical accident sent Emmanuel Martinez to the Doctors Hospital Burn Unit. He ended up losing both legs, his right arm, and a finger on his left hand. Although life as he knew it was over, a new life and new friendships were being forged.
“You never know what God has for you,” says Emmanuel. “He has a purpose. At that time, you don’t see it, but later on, you understand the purpose. Without this, I would have never met Dean.”
When he moved to the 6th floor, Emmanuel met Dean Beasley, then Director of the Inpatient Rehab.
“Emmanuel is probably my most memorable patient,” says Dean. “During his rehabilitation, they had been talking on the unit about him writing, painting, or drawing. For some reason, that clicked.”
Dean remembered a movie he’d seen about quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada. “I did everything I could do to find that video,” Dean adds. “He was inspired by it, so we bought whatever we needed to make it work.”
“She was painting with her mouth, and it was beautiful,” explains Emmanuel. “I thought, if she can do that with her mouth, I still have one hand – why can’t I do that too? So, I started with charcoal drawings, then acrylics, then a little bit with the oil.”
Dean adds, “Once he got out of rehab, he enrolled for lessons at the Gertrude Herbert Institute. That’s when he got really good.”
“They showed me the techniques,” Emmanuel explains. “I also went to local stores to learn more about mixing colors. After that, I watched Bob Ross’s videos because I like his technique. I’d watch his videos and pause it to paint.”
In appreciation of Dean’s influence in his life, Emmanuel gave Dean a special painting for his retirement in 2018.
“I’m very thankful for everything Dean did,” says Emmanuel. “Since he was retiring, I painted him a seagull. A seagull has freedom on the air and on the sea. I know he loved his job, but sometimes you need a break and time to relax with family.”
Emmanuel’s paintings and his life serve as an inspiration to others. He often returns to the rehab unit to meet and encourage patients who have undergone severe trauma.
You can find Emmanuel’s art at his website, EmmanuelMartinezArt.com, and around the Doctors Hospital Rehab Unit.