The Yorkshire mum who had eye surgery to correct blurry vision, then realized she was a talented artist


A mum who found her artistic flair at age 50 after surgery to correct blurry vision unleashed such impressive talent that she was commissioned by celebrities like Mel B and even sent the Queen a portrait.

Plagued with blurred eyesight caused by congenital cataracts, Shany Hagan, 52, of York, finally underwent corrective surgery in January 2020, but found herself shortly after being on leave from her job in a sales office in due to the Covid pandemic.

Encouraged by her 20-year-old son, Shany – who loved art in school but had never pushed it any further – took up a brush and, with her new 20/20 vision, was soon the author of an admirable portfolio of works.

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She said: “I liked art in school, but I was very average, probably because of my eyesight.

“Taking a brush for the first time in over 30 years was very intimidating and I never thought it would lead to a whole new career.”

Born with congenital cataracts – a rare birth defect of the eye caused when the lens is cloudy instead of clear – which were not diagnosed until later in life and caused Shany’s blurred vision, she is remained silent for many years about her condition.

She said: “Cataracts normally appear in old age, but I was born with them.

“I was really shy growing up, so even though I had eye problems, I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.

“I didn’t tell anyone, not even my parents, and I really struggled in school because I couldn’t see the board properly.”

It was when Shany started driving at the age of 23 that she had her eyes tested for the first time and was prescribed a pair of glasses.

She said: “Then it was during one of my eye tests in 2019 that they noticed I had cataracts.

“I knew I was having problems, but I had never really insisted until then. “

Shany was commissioned by famous jockey Bob Champion

She added, “Realizing that the condition could make me blind was the push I needed to do something.”

In January 2020, Shany underwent an NHS procedure to replace the lenses in her eyes, curing her blurry vision, which she recalls had an immediate impact.

“I couldn’t believe the others saw so well from the start,” she said. “I was walking around with what looked like a pair of curtains covering my eyes the whole time.”

Released from the hospital later that same day to recuperate at home, Shany quickly felt like a new woman – eager to try different things.

She said, “Within three to four weeks my eyesight recovered after the operation.

“Everything was so bright and vivid. It was just amazing. It was like a different world.

And just two months later, the single mom picked up a paintbrush.

She said: “I was taken off from my job when the pandemic hit, so suddenly I found myself spending all of my time at home.

“It was my son who convinced me to do some paintings to keep me busy. I ended up painting one for the queen, it was one of her horses that I sent her.

Shany received a letter from Buckingham Palace after sending a painting to the Queen

She added: “I received a letter from Buckingham Palace which was really special.

“I was getting a lot of positive feedback from friends and family, so I also started posting photos of my artwork on social media, and my success started from there. “

Since then, Shany – who charges up to £ 3,500 for a photo, which she usually does in acrylic and can take her anywhere from four days to four months – has even attracted famous clients.

Ex-Spice Girl Mel B received a portrait of herself after Shany’s work went viral on social media, and former Top of the Pops host and DJ Mike Read ordered a painted jacket for Sir Cliff Richard’s birthday.

Shany, who keeps the costs of her celebrity commissions private, said: “I painted her records on the back of a leather jacket and was thrilled when Mike sent me a picture of Cliff holding it. .

“It took me five days to do it with acrylic paints. “

Shany has since quit her office job, now working full time as a professional painter, marketing her work on social media.

“It’s pretty impressive how much life has changed over the past two years,” said Shany.

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“I went from a job I didn’t really like to make a living and survive, to now living a dream. “

She added, “The celebrities I have worked with have all been adorable. Mel B even invited me to her home so that I could drop off her painting.

“I also painted for former professional boxer Frank Bruno and jockey Bob Champion.

“And since then, I’ve piqued the interest of baseball teams in America who have started commissioning hang-up jobs in their stadiums. It has been a whirlwind.

When Shany isn’t painting for famous clients, she works on artwork for businesses and charities.

She said: “It’s amazing that I always had this hidden talent.

“If I hadn’t had eye surgery, I would never have known it was possible. “

She added, “Just two years ago, I couldn’t see well and my eyesight was getting worse. I was struggling with tunnel vision and now, two years later, I’m painting for the biggest stars in the world.

“Life is crazy, but I wouldn’t change it. I really had a “brush stroke” of luck!

For more information on Shany’s work, visit its website.

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