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Michael Davenport, Amazing Mouth Artist

Updated on April 4, 2014
Michael Davenport uses his mouth to create his masterpieces.
Michael Davenport uses his mouth to create his masterpieces. | Source

The artist places a black Sharpie between his lips, leans his torso forward and nods his head to make careful, precise strokes on the canvas. It doesn't take long before the strokes join together to form a very recognizable shape. That's Uga he's drawing, mascot of the Georgia Bulldogs.There's a red football helmet by Uga's side and in the background, a painstaking rendering of the University of Georgia's famed black iron arch.

It's a drawing any Bulldog fan would be proud to hang, but the wow factor is that it's all been done by mouth. Davenport, who had his hands and most of his arms amputated as a teenager, knows his special skill attracts gawkers. In fact, he's counting on it. That's how he makes his living.This day he has set up his easel at a busy intersection in Athens, Ga.

Passersby appear stunned, amazed. One lady rolls down her window. "That is awesome," she yells. "You are extremely talented." Another woman gives him a bookmark telling him God loves him. Davenport already knows that.

"I wouldn't be able to do what I do without the Lord," he says.

What does Davenport think about people's reactions when they see him working? "I feel like they look at it the way God wants them to see it," he says. "There's hope there, you know. I haven't given up. I haven't just laid on my tail and waited on a government check."

Davenport won't give up. He says it again and again. There's always a chance life will get better. He knows from experience. Davenport says he was a bitter addict until God changed his attitude and helped him see the beauty in life.

Occasionally he struggles to hold onto objects, dropping pen caps, asking for help securing something in a jean pocket at his knee. He's learned to talk while holding the Sharpie in his mouth.

"Most people think it's hard. I look at it as just surviving. God gave me talent. I'm going to do it," he says.

"I don't let things upset me. I figure God don't make mistakes," Davenport says. Davenport named this drawing "Baby Blue-Eyed Russ" after the University of Georgia mascot Uga IX.
"I don't let things upset me. I figure God don't make mistakes," Davenport says. Davenport named this drawing "Baby Blue-Eyed Russ" after the University of Georgia mascot Uga IX. | Source

It's supposed to get up into the 50s today but the wind is biting, more than once knocking over his canvas. Davenport says he usually starts to work at around 11 a.m. Today he's still going shortly before 6 p.m., nearly seven hours after he started, with plans to continue working into the night, drawing for fans at a baseball game.

He doesn't mind the cold as much as other people, he says. He's pretty much numb from the chest down due to the burn injuries he suffered when he was a teenager. With visions of swinging like Spiderman, a 13-year-old Davenport was attempting to throw a rope with a copper wire inside it over a tree limb, but missed and hit a live power line.

"All I knew was something had a hold of me and I couldn't let it go," he says.

Davenport was told by witnesses that some of his fingers and toes fell off as he was being loaded onto a stretcher. But that's not what he remembers. In what he describes as an "out of body experience," Davenport says he was transported to a beautiful place of peace and without pain, where he felt God's presence. God told him he was OK and that it wasn't his time to die, he says. A month later he woke up in the hospital and learned his hands, his left arm and his right forearm had been amputated.

Davenport asked "Why me?" and hid in homeroom to eat his lunch.

"I didn't want to accept I had no hands. When I'd see my reflection in the mirror, it hurt. When people would look at me, it hurt. When my clothes didn't fit right, it hurt."

Davenport learned to write his name with his mouth. Invited to attend UGA football practices by legendary Coach Vince Dooley, Davenport began practicing drawing the college mascot.

Before the accident, "I couldn't draw a stick figure," Davenport says.

But when he put a pen in his mouth, he discovered a talent. Davenport began drawing sketches on bar napkins for patrons in downtown Athens before graduating to Sharpies, paint markers and canvases. It takes him less than an hour to do most of his drawings, and he charges between $100 and $175 per piece.

He's become known around town and is the subject of an occasional news story. He is hoping to get more exposure. A friend is writing a book about his life, and Davenport is hoping to score an appearance on comedian Steve Harvey's talk show.

Davenport with the finished product. He typically asks customers to apply a glossy coat to the canvas to preserve the drawing.
Davenport with the finished product. He typically asks customers to apply a glossy coat to the canvas to preserve the drawing. | Source

Davenport is currently living in a budget motel and just learned he may lose his elbow due to infection. But he keeps hoping for a better tomorrow. He says he has put the past behind him, a past that includes addiction to drugs and alcohol, substances that Davenport used to help him feel accepted.

He claims God saved his life twice: Once from death by electrocution and once from the disease of addiction. He realized he had to let go of the addiction when it started affecting his physical and mental health, as well as his art.

"I thank God for opening my eyes," he says.

"He's forgiven me. I've got to forgive myself. That's what most people lack is forgiving themselves. What's past is past," he says.

A woman stops to ask if Davenport only draws bulldogs. No, he says. He can also do family portraits, landmarks, such as Athens' historic Georgia Theatre, and other school mascots. He's got one with Uga, rival mascot Albert the Florida Gator and mascots from other football teams gambling, most likely on who will claim victory in the next game.

Dooley, who long ago encouraged Davenport, "Don't ever stop doing what you're doing," owns several of his drawings, as does current UGA Coach Mark Richt.

Today, Davenport's second piece is again Uga, this time sporting shades and lounging in front of Sandford Stadium. With delicate strokes, he slowly and carefully fills the stands with fans. Is he really taking the time to draw in people in all those seats? Driving by almost four hours later, he's still at it. No, Michael Davenport doesn't give up.

"Always put Christ first and you can do anything. Always have hope things will be better. You can either lay there and accept things as is or make a change, make them better," he says.

Writer's Note: Unfortunately, at this time, Davenport says he does not have a website or email where he can be contacted. Michael said the best way to get directly in touch with him for orders is by calling his cousin, Sky, at 706-351-1826. He can also ship orders. Though there are at least two Facebook pages that bear his name, it is not safe to place orders via Facebook, as Michael said someone has been pretending to be him online. If you are in Athens, Ga., be on the lookout for Michael. As of this update, he spends most of his time at the corner of Timothy Road and Atlanta Highway. He also accepts donations to purchase art supplies.

Watch Michael Davenport inspire children - Video courtesy of Daniel Peiken. Visit Peiken's website at www.AthensRockShow.com. Email: dpeiken@hotmail.com

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Absolutely amazing, and you told his story very well. No matter how long I live, Crystal, people still inspire me daily.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
      Author

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, he is an incredible person and an inspiration to all of us. I am trying to remember that image of him, still out there on that windy day, when I drove by hours later. Sometimes I think I have it hard. I only think I do.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      What an amazing guy! as billy said, some people will never fail to amaze me, and leave me in awe. they also make me feel so humble when we moan about stupid things, this guy is wonderful! great hub Crystal, voted up and shared!

    • word55 profile image

      Word 3 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Crystal, You wrote like a journalist. That was a very inspirational article. Thank you for recognizing and sharing this man's story. Amazing video, I'm re-inspired! My hat's off to you too! Voted way up!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Wonderful hub Crystal. Michael Davenport and people like him are an inspiration to us all. A delight to read. Voted up.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A beautiful hub about Davenport you certainly shared a valuable and interesting hub. He sounds like a wonderful person and you made me know me more thank you

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I had to share this hub. He is gifted and resilient, an inspiration to us all. Thank you for profiling him.

    • kerlund74 profile image

      kerlund74 3 years ago from Sweden

      Fantastic story about a fantastic person. So strong to go through all these challenges that life have brought upon him. Wonderful, thank you for sharing.

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

      Amazing hub! Not only does it remind us to never take anythng for granted but that all things are possible with God's help! Thank you so much for sharing! Voted up!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      What an amazing story, Crystal! You did an excellent job of bringing this man's story to the forefront. He is a true inspiration. I don't know how he does it. I'd go cross-eyed being that close to the canvas.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
      Author

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you Nell. He is truly an amazing spirit.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
      Author

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you so much word55. I hope Michael's story will inspire many. And I used to be a journalist! :)

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
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      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you Jodah. I am glad you are inspired by Michael. He has inspired many during his lifetime.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
      Author

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you DDE!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
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      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you Flourish for the share. He is a tenacious and beautiful spirit for sure.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
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      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you for reading kerlund74. I am so glad you enjoyed the article and got to learn about Michael.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
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      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Many thanks to you for reading Bk42author.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
      Author

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Shauna, I don't know how he does it either. It's truly amazing to watch. Hope you checked out the video so you could see for yourself. Thanks for reading!

    • Danida profile image

      Danida 3 years ago from London

      Wow, this guy's very inspiring! He reminds me of Jean-Dominique Bauby, a man who suffered from locked in syndrome and managed to write a book on his experiences with the use of only one eye. He would blink with his left eye, the only thing he could move, as a nurse pointed to different letters on the keyboard. That is how he wrote a whole book.

      It goes to show that everything is achievable, and even if you have been severely limited. Something to think about when you feel like procrastinating!

      Great hub :)

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
      Author

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Wow, Danida, Bauby has an amazing story as well. How can anyone have that level of persistence and patience? I have thought of Michael several times when I have felt like throwing a pity party. Thank you for reading!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      This man is truly amazing. He is proof that you can do anything if you just set your mind to it.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an interesting and very inspiring hub, Crystal. Michael Davenport is an amazing person and artist. Your hub is a wonderful way to publicize his efforts.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Amazing artist and wonderful hub!

      Very nice gesture on your part to showcase his talent. Thanks for sharing!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
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      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for reading, teaches. I agree with you, he is a lesson in perseverance.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
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      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you Alicia. I hope this article will expand his spotlight.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
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      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks chitrangada sharan.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 3 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I love art and I found very talented person here. God has blessed him with this talent. This is a gift to be thankful for. I really appreciate his effort to make a beautiful painting and not all people can do this job. Thanks for sharing about Michael Davenport. I hope this hub inspiring many people...amen. Voted up!

      Prasetio

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
      Author

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you prasetio30!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      What an amazing story! Seems impossible, doesn't it? Thanks for sharing this. It's so inspiring.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
      Author

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Yes Victoria, Michael has accomplished what seems impossible. I think the most amazing part of this story is his positive attitude. Thanks for reading!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

      This talented man amazes me Crystal. He encourage us to be positive in life and that nothing is impossible. Kudos to this man and to this inspiring and great hub. Thank you. Voted up and shared in fb.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
      Author

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you Thelma, for reading and for the share. Michael is a wonderful inspiration to us all.

    • stuff4kids profile image

      Amanda Littlejohn 2 years ago

      That's my inspiration fix for the day! Davenport's story is a heartening and inspiring one indeed - and humbling, too.

      Thank you so much for sharing this. :)

    • Crystal Tatum profile image
      Author

      Crystal Tatum 2 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for reading stuff4kids! He is truly an inspiration.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      It's certainly a blessing to see this man thrive.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 22 months ago from Oklahoma

      Just amazing! What an inspiring article.

    • ButlerOlsonPubl profile image

      ButlerOlsonPubl 21 months ago

      Great job Crystal!! This is really well-done. Michael is super-talented.

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