OAK RIDGE, Tenn. -- Cynthia Bloom balances on her motorized wheelchair, clutches a paintbrush between the first two toes of her left foot, and dabs it into one of several globs of bright acrylic paint placed on cardboard on the living room floor.
Then she begins her latest project, paintbrush moving confidently on canvas.
Bloom has no arms -- only small stubs well above where elbows should be. She's missing all her right leg.
She was born that way, she says.
Bloom has her left foot and toes that adeptly serve as hand and fingers, an upbeat attitude and a husband with a lively sense of humor who's also her helpmate and biggest fan.
"I knew when I first saw her that she was a woman of remarkable courage, and I wanted that in my life," said husband George Edmonds, who volunteers that he's been diagnosed with mild schizophrenia.
The two have carved out lives together with their 16-year-old daughter in their modest home in the city's Woodland community.
Edmonds jokingly says they met painfully -- Cynthia was going through a door at the former Daniel Arthur Rehabilitation Center in Oak Ridge and banged into him.
They married in 1986 after dating for three years. "We kind of complement each others' abilities," Edmonds said. "Every now and then when she needs a proverbial push I give it to her, and it also works the other way around."
Edmonds suggested artwork as a creative outlet for his wife after watching her apply makeup with her toes some 10 years ago.
"He said he thought it would be neat if I did some painting," Bloom said.
"She's been doing it ever since," Edmonds said.
The paintings' themes vary, but all are bright, vibrant.
There's a view looking down on a large green turtle crawling on a bright red background, its shell a multihued cluster of dabbed oil paint that jumps off the canvass.
Her latest creation, "Tree of Color," shows the black silhouette of a tree with bright colors interspersed in the limbs and background.
"I just enjoy doing it," Bloom said of her hobby. "It helps me with stress, it takes my mind off things, and it gives me adventures."
Ideas for artwork "pop up in my head or from something I see on TV," she said. "I do animals and landscapes, abstracts and religious themes, and sunsets."
Bloom said her skills have improved over the years, "but I'm starting to get arthritis in my toes."
"I'm still hanging in there," she said.
Bloom belongs to an international association of mouth- and foot-painting artists. The members in that partnership submit paintings that are considered for publication as greeting cards and calendars and receive a small stipend for their efforts.
Bloom said she's sent in several of her paintings, and they've been on display in various locations in Europe.
Only a few have sold, Edmonds said, and none has been selected yet for a greeting card or calendar.
Locally, about a half-dozen of his wife's paintings have been sold through word-of-mouth advertising, Edmonds said, while a couple of her artworks have been given to her health care providers.
(Contact Bob Fowler of The Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee at email@example.com.)