On Christmas Eve in 2009, Tom Day — an Air Force veteran of 23 years who served as a test flight engineer — suffered a stroke, leading to a diagnosis of Broca’s Aphasia and Apraxia; damage to the area of the brain involved in forming sentences, making speech profoundly difficult. Additionally, the stroke resulted in right-side hemiparesis, a condition that forces Day to use his non-dominant left hand for daily activities.
Before his stroke, Day had little interest in drawing or painting. (In the words of his family: “He never drew anything but a paycheck.”) To help supplement his speech, his clinician gave him a pad and pencils and asked him to go home and draw anything. He began to draw in order to communicate, drawings unusually detailed and spatially aware. On Father’s Day 2012, his adult children gave him art supplies.
Slowly, he began to explore the process of oil painting using his non-dominant left hand. In the process, he discovered an ability and passion for painting.
The paintings in the exhibition starting July 1 at the SouthShore Regional Library span a range from his first works to current paintings that are primarily focused on landscape and the natural world he enjoys. He often creates paintings based on the photographs that he and his wife take together. Day also participates in Art-in-Health’s Arts Studio for Aphasia project at the University of South Florida. USF Art in Health is a program of the USF Contemporary Art Museum.
Day lives in Tampa with his wife, Hatsumi. They have three adult children: Yukiko, Minako and Tommy, all very supportive of his artwork.
Day maintains an art blog called “Artist by Day,” located at tartistday.blogspot.com.