Blaine Nokusis

Artist discovers his talent after accident

By Nelson W. Bird

Reprinted with permission from
Saskatchewan Sage - January 1997 - pg. 6

Blaine Nokusis When Blaine Nokusis lost the use of his right hand, he thought it would be the hardest adjustment of his life. As it turned out, adjusting to be left-handed opened up a new world for him.

In 1980 Blaine was seriously injured in an auto accident on the Peepeekisis First Nation, his home reserve. Except for his right arm, Blaine, who is now 32, fully recovered from the accident, but he suddendly found himself re-learning maneuvers most people take for granted.

Blaine Nokusis of the Peepeekisis
First Nation had to become left-
handed after his right arm was


"I was totally right handed before and I thought it would be very hard to learn to use my left but I found that it just sort of came naturally," he said.

Despite being totally paralyzed, Nokusis' right arm was never amputated. Both he and his doctors believed that he would eventually regain the use of it.

His disability didn't slow him down. He was living in Sturgeon Lake in the early '80s and taking an Indian Studies Art class when Nokusis discovered his talent for painting. He didn't paint prior to his accident.

"We had to do a little project and my instructor saw that I could draw pretty good and she told me I should do more and go on," he said.

But he still needed the prompting and encouragement of others to realize the full potential of his talent.

"Other teachers and students saw my work and told me to keep on painting," said Nokusis.

After the class, he considered being an artist as a profession and that led him to examine the work of other artists.

"I've always liked this one artist, David B. Williams, and I liked his style so that's what I decided to go on," he said.

Since Nokusis's self-discovery in the mid-'80s, he's created and sold over 100 painting. His work comes in numerous sizes from wall murals to hand drums, but his favorite size canvas to work on is 60cm by 80cm.

Nokusis' work can be recognized by its brilliant colors.

"I like bright colors in my work because my work revolves around silhouettes and bright colors bring out the best features of my paintings," he said.

One of his paintings was presented to AFN Chief Ovide Mecredi and two paintings and a hand drum were presented to FSIN Chief Blaine Favel.

In 1986, Nokusis traveled to Toronto to have a nerve ending operation on his arm. The operation was only partially successful. He can now bend his right elbow but he still has no use of his hand.

Many people have speculated on Blaine's new found abilities. His favorite explanation came from a stranger he met in a lounge.

"Someone told me once that when you lose the use of one arm and you switch over to the other side, it's like switching over to the other side of your brain," he said. "There's only two kinds of people in the world that can do that and that's mathematicians and artists--I'm not good in math."

Besides painting, Nokusis spends time playing pool and golf. He recently changed the transmission and gas tank on a car, relying on his knees and feet instead of his other hand.

He recently ventured into a new territory of art by taking up furniture making.

"I make coffee tables and chairs but right now I'm planning something special--it's a fireplace with carved wooden feathers on the sides of it and a skull centered on the hearth with one of my paintings topping it off," he said.

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