Artistically Challenged Man Becomes "Michelangelo" After Brain Surgery

By Allison Bond | June 3, 2009 5:42 pm

BrainFor those of us with no discernible artistic talent, it may seem impossible to produce a recognizable sketch, sculpture, or painting.  For Alan Brown, a 49-year-old father of three, however, all it took was a stroke and 16 hours of brain surgery to give him the artistic prowess to get a degree in fine arts and open his own gallery.

The U.K. Daily Mail reports that Brown was still recovering from his surgery when he realized that his doodles, once limited to stick men, had become strikingly more realistic.  Brain surgery can cause significant changes in behavior and abilities. Luckily for Brown, his change was for the better. He began painting (examples of his work can be seen here) and eventually quit his day job to open a gallery, where he displays and sells his art.

More commonly, brain injuries and surgeries can cause Foreign Accent Syndrome, in which the patient suddenly acquires an accent from a country they might never have lived in or visited. One woman began speaking with a European accent that changes without warning after she fell out of a moving car; a British man surprised his family when he awoke from surgery with a strong Irish accent.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Need to Perform Brain Surgery? Better Grab Your Black & Decker
Discoblog: Health Hazard Alert: Head-Banging May Hurt Your Brain

Image: iStockphoto

MORE ABOUT: art, brain injury, medicine
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  • Jo

    Being able to draw realistically is really just getting around our interpretation of what we see, rather than attempting to draw what we think is there. Anyone can do learn to do it with a little training. Not to say that some don’t have more aptitude than others, but the idea that you need to be born with the ability to draw is a myth.

    It’s possible that the brain injury affected his ability to interpret visual information the way he normally would. It’s like the ‘upside-down image’ trick used by drawing courses — remove one’s ability to recognize what they are drawing, and they’ll produce something much more realistic.

  • K. Madison

    I totally disagree that “anyone can do it.” I have been a fine artist all of my life, never had any training and started drawing as an adult would at the age of 3. God gave me this diversified talent. It’s a shame that some are so narrow minded. I praise this gentleman for his accomplishments no matter how he came about it. Obviously God did bless him in more than one way. Have faith people. Have faith instead of negativity. This is what is wrong with our country.

  • K. Madison

    PS. Sorry, meant: Never had any training at the age of 3

  • Jon-Pierre Gentil

    The irony of your statement is astounding, K.Madison. “Don’t be narrow minded, it’s clearly a gift of God, it can’t possibly be anything else! Have faith instead of negativity, because the thing that is wrong with this country is that we have too many people with opinions that differ from mine!”

    Nevertheless, it is fascinating how the brain can adapt and in doing so, remaps functional areas that used to exist into new parts of the brain that have different talents. While I am not a neuroscience major, I believe that the brain is an amazing thing, and that a lot of the theorized “wasted” space in the brain is there for redundancy in case of failure.

    Now I just need an excuse to have brain surgery….. *wink*

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  • Christina Viering

    How cool to renew a life after in this manner!

  • HMCraig

    Congratulations to Mr. Brown for finding something he really enjoys and does well!
    I think it’s great to find something that is worth the effort (brain injury sucks the energy out of you.. you have to decide pretty quickly what is important to you and how you’ll achieve those things).

    As a trained fine artist who within the last year has sustained a brain injury, I can say that my art has changed. Brighter colors. “Happier” subjects. Less restraint in terms of composition and brushwork. I am using my art for a couple different things, one of which is enjoyment (I don’t get headaches, but I do get a sense of achievement), and the other is therapy.

  • Deviled Egg

    Such a cool story. It’s like the man’s whole world changed. Amazing!

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