Young painter controls artistic brush strokes with her toes

FOOT ART—Lexis Barragan, 18, created the abstract painting using a paintbrush with her feet. Barragan has attended art classes at ELAC. Photo courtesy of Lexis Barragan

By Maxine Casillas

As she lays her paintbrush against a paper, her muscles relax.

It’s typical to think that her fingers are doing the magic, but in reality it’s her toes. As a young girl, Lexis Barragan was always seen with a pencil and paper in hand, along with her box of 12 Crayola crayons and paint set. “You would rarely see me without them,” Barragan said.

Out of all of her art supplies, she stuck with her paintbrushes because she loved mixing colors and getting messy with paint all over her hands. She would always receive compliments from her elementary and middle school teachers for her paintings.

She knew she had a knack for art at a young age. She said that painting and drawing were her scapegoats from the problems in the world. “When I paint, I feel as though I am in my own zone and I am in another world, but when I paint with my toes it gives me an even greater feeling because I feel more connected with whatever painting I am venturing on,” Barragan said.

Barragan started attending East Los Angeles College before she entered high school. The first course she took was drawing. She was only 13 years old, being the youngest in her class.

Like most artists, her first drawings were done with her hands.  It wasn’t until one day she was fooling around with a paintbrush on her toes when she discovered she was pretty good at it.

Ever since that random moment she continues working on abstract paintings and has never stopped. “ELAC’s art classes have really inspired me to think outside the box, and I see their art environment as motivation,” she said.  Ever since she attended the art class at ELAC, she said she benefited from it because she noticed how much better her drawings have become.

When drawing with her toes she feels at ease and loves the challenge of painting a new abstract piece. Her toes move slowly and carefully along the paper as her mind focuses on what she is painting. “You must be really still and flexible in order to move your feet and toes in different ways,” she said.

She thanks her former gymnastic lessons.  Although her paintings aren’t done with much figurative detail, most cannot tell that they were not completed by hand. She believes she is starting to become more steady with her toes and she hopes one day she’ll be able to do more detailed drawings.

At this moment, she currently attends Visual and Learning Arts High School and hopes to continue and major in art at ELAC. She has yet to tell her teacher at her high school that some of her abstract paintings that have received A’s were done with her toes. She doesn’t know yet if she is ready to embrace her awkward talent, but she says she will definitely continue on trying to master it.

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