Celebrating a Thasc Artist: Terry Haffner

“Three Boats” is an original oil painting by Terry Haffner, resident of the Hoosier State, Indiana. Terry was born without arms and short legs. Terry paints with a brush held by an artificial arm and hook. Terry’s landscapes and seascapes are colorful in an impressionistic style. This greeting card was reproduced from an original oil painting by Terry Haffner for THASC Sales Co. which has employed a unique group of handicapped artists who create art to help rehabilitate themselves. They gain self-respect and pride through their artwork.


Terry Haffner
Terry Haffner
I had the honor today to communicate with an extraordinary individual. Terry Haffner is an artist, a motivational speaker and an author. He was also born with no arms and short legs. Terry told me that he works in acrylics and loves color. The “Three Boats” was a scene from Maine. He says mostly he paints traditional landscapes and seascapes and that people, when they travel, share pictures with him.

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“Mill Memory”
He said that soon he would stretch himself a bit and do colorful abstract art. He paints on stretched canvas: 20” x 16” and 24” x 20” mostly. He likes doing smaller paintings mostly 8’ x 10’ and 9 x 12” using his mouth with a brush.

Terry says he has been a more professional artist since realizing people love what he does and are willing to spend money for an original HAFFNER painting. He mostly holds brushes with his right hook.

He tells a funny story about when he was about 2 years old. He was living with his grandparents and slept in an opened drawer to a dresser and one day, his mother got the bright idea to sell the dresser at a yard sale and he woke up in someone else’s house two days later!

At 13 years old, when Terry was very depressed about his parents’ health, his nephew suggested he write a book about how his parents motivated him every step of the way growing up: how they had placed a pencil between his toes when he was only three, how they loved him, cared for him and wanted him to go to school. He says this saying was always important to him: “When every challenge gets tough, every victory is sweeter. “

In his twenties Terry started traveling to Oklahoma City and then got the “bug” to share his story and to be in front of a microphone. He says he will do everything he can to lift up people.

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“A Winter Day”
Several years ago, after visiting San Juan and seeing a man banging a cup on the street and walking on the palms of his hands, Terry realized that banging a similar cup, especially when he talked to younger people, meant for him first, to get their attention and then, to remind them that that was not who he was.

He started to think about accepting himself the way he was. Even though he had felt that many people don’t accept you if you looked different, he finally thought it was time to give away his artificial limbs to people in poor countries. He wanted to feel whole and left the legs with no regrets.

He decided to have his new van built to accommodate him the way he was, using his hook for the steering wheel and having it built on a vacuum assist. He indeed felt whole and accepting of himself then.

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The turning point for Terry to feel recognized was when an art teacher from New Jersey saw a story in the National Enquirer about Terry called “Tales of True Courage” and sent him a box of acrylic paints and said try it. He liked it and began to use acrylic paint exclusively.

His autobiography is titled “Born With Less, Blessed With More.” It is still in manuscript form as his sister who worked on it for 13 years, passed away from Parkinson’s disease on October 3. He needs to add more to the manuscript and find a publisher. He describes his book as powerful, inspirational and funny.Terry Haffner Painting

Terry told me he lives in his own home, a ranch villa in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is not fond of winter weather so he’s thinking about relocating to Charleston, NC, with greater opportunities to get galleries to look at his work.

Terry says, “All my life people have looked at me, and all they have to do is look a little farther and see I’m still the same person.”

You can see more of Terry’s work on his website:

And you can also see Terry on YouTube below:

Thank you to Dana Clark, Terry’s photographer, for supplying many of the photos in this blog.

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“A Trip Cherished”
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“The Old Boat”
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“Another Time”
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“A Family Farmhouse”
This has been an incredible assignment for me, talking to Terry Haffner. Thank you THASC Sales Co. for introducing me to one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met, and, of course, thank you, Terry, for your inspiration and beautiful artwork.

See you Thursday!!!!

THASC is a unique small American business producing cards and other promotional products.

4 thoughts on “Celebrating a Thasc Artist: Terry Haffner

  1. dana burdick April 28, 2015 / 10:51 am


    Wow he is amazing! Love is art work. And his book, when published is going to great. Every has to get a copy of the book. It must have been great talking to him, i hope you got to see his art work. I to can share in his art work,because l also paint, l love all kids of art work. I to hate the wintet and cold days. The move would be a goid thing. Well, try not to get to depressed about your parents health, just enjoy them as long ad you can. Good luck! You have an amazing gift!!!


    • Maria April 28, 2015 / 3:28 pm

      Dear Dana, It’s people like Terry who lift us up to see what true courage and talent really are. This was one of my favorite blogs. What a very special human being~ Thanks for writing… xo


  2. Anna April 28, 2015 / 1:22 pm

    Maria, you lifted my soul with this beautiful story of courage. My sister-in-law, at the age of 80 years just started Dialysis and I was sad about her situation, and then you bring this wonderful encouraging story about Terry, and I have to take a second look at life and THANK GOD for all the blessings we have. Thank you Maria, I think you’re special too. Love U Anna


    • Maria April 28, 2015 / 3:25 pm

      He truly has an amazing story. An example of courage for all of us. Thanks, Anna for following me. Thses are extraordinary people!!!! Love, Maria


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