In 2011, Parkinson’s changed Len Giese’s life. He says it pushed him to really find himself and realize what it is in life that you truly enjoy through the struggles of body and mind.

In 2011, Parkinson’s changed Len Giese’s life. He says it pushed him to really find himself and realize what it is in life that you truly enjoy through the struggles of body and mind.

“Parkinson’s takes everything,” Len said. “It takes your mind, it takes your body but it doesn’t take your soul. We have Jesus Christ for that.”

However, the disease also helped him unlock a new talent that has now given him a creative outlet to express himself through a whole new spectrum.

In February, Giese says he began his creative work with yard ornaments and other outside decorative pieces. He says he noticed immediately that he had a knack for blending colors. He went on to help restore various lawn ornaments for neighbors, continuing to increase this interest in color work. Then one day, his wife Cyndy Giese brought home a coffee cup. Len decided to do some drawings on the cup and add color. This is where he says the love for painting began.

Len moved on to using acrylic paints on paper and painted whatever subjects came to mind. He began with subjects like butterflies and has now moved onto to a wider scope with paintings of cityscapes and boats on the water on canvas.

“I started doing it day and night,” Len said. “With Parkinson’s, I can’t do too much, but I can sit and paint as long as I want.”

Len says that he ends up giving most of his paintings away to friends and family. He says that he has given away over 50 at this point.

The painting has been an outlet for Len to exhaust some of his pent up creative thoughts, as Parkinson’s has taken away some of the abilities he had once before. This includes the guitar playing he once did regularly for his church and one of his other artistic efforts in building a miniature replica of his life with Cyndy.

Over time, Len says he has had to ask himself where this talent is coming from. As a kid, he would draw sketches now and then, but this talent and imaginative power that has recently spawned is something new for him entirely. He finds that his style is unique and is something that he has embraced and learned to utilize over time.

To help promote Len’s work and to build some funds towards charity, Molly Born stepped forward to help organize a gallery of Len’s art for the lake to see. Born says that there are many great artists at the lake, but she wanted to set up something to showcase his art through the struggles of Parkinson’s.

Born says she had to heavily convince Len to do the gallery at all. She says that she continually pushed him until he came around on the idea. She was thrilled when he finally agreed, because she says this work is too important not to show.

“People need to see what he can do,” Born said.

Cyndy says that she was elated for Len when he found this medium to work in. She says he tends to use the painting at a stress reliever when things get rough. Through that, she says he makes some of his best work.

Though he was hesitant, Len says he’s happy to be doing the gallery. He says that he doesn’t think he’s as good as everyone says, but reinforcement from friends and family have made him more confident.

The gallery for Len’s work will be open Oct. 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Key Gathering Place on Hwy 5. The event is free, though charity donations will be accepted. Len’s paintings will also be for sale with a portion going to Parkinson’s Support Groups. Lake of the Ozarks Parkinson’s Support Groups meet the third Thursday of each month at noon. For more information, contact Patsy or David Dalton at 573-356-6036 or 573-434-4569.