PORTSMOUTH, Va. — When the classical music starts playing and the paintbrush begins tapping against a glass container, Portsmouth artist Greg Haywood’s canvas comes to life.
The impressionist painter often feels trapped in the wrong era.
“I listen to music when I paint, it brings me into that thing… with my paint brush,” said Haywood. “I’m like a musical director.”
Every color and every stroke is a miracle of sorts.
That’s because in 2010, Haywood was badly injured when he was hit by a car during a hit-and-run. The former construction worker suffered a broken leg in three different places.
Six months later, he had a stroke.
While it didn’t paralyze him, it numbed the entire right side of his body, including his right hand, which he uses to paint.
“I have to adjust my way of painting because I can’t feel very much,” said Haywood.
Then, three years ago, he was diagnosed with stage four vocal chord cancer. It’s been a challenging health battle for Haywood.
The health issues and loss of feeling in his right hand only urged him to paint even more.
“I lived through all of that, didn’t quit, and I’m still here,” he said.
He told 13News Now his work has only blossomed since then.
“It’s more… a celebration of life,” said Haywood. “Of beauty, of love.”
Now, he’s taking his masterpieces out of his little apartment and sharing that labor of love with others.
Thursday, he went to the Gallery 21 in Norfolk, where he’s holding his first major art exhibition in a fine art gallery.
Inside of the gallery, he looked out in astonishment as he saw his paintings carefully arranged along the blank white walls.
They filled the room with color and overwhelmed the artist.
“I can’t believe how much work I’ve done,” said Haywood.
On July 10 between 5 and 8 p.m., the exhibition will open to the public. The show, "My Trek in Color," will last through August 5.
Each of the paintings inside of the gallery will go on sale.
“My paintings… that’s my legacy,” Haywood said .
Admission into the gallery is free.