Rosenthal said that for Vono, painting has probably become an informal form of physical therapy. Doing something he likes also helps his mood, she said.

"He is also doing an activity that he enjoys and spending time not thinking about his disease and not being sick," Rosenthal said. "We always encourage patients to find an activity that they enjoy and do it. Staying active is one of the best things people with Parkinson's can do."

Vono's love for art spans years. He went to an industrial-arts high school in Brooklyn as a teenager and was an illustrator for the Army during the Cold War.

But he ultimately pursued a career in advertising, practicing his art as a hobby. He worked his way up in the pharmaceutical advertising world, eventually becoming an art director.

"I wanted a paycheck," he said.

Throughout the years, he would take art classes on the weekends and find solace in painting as he and his wife raised a family. If he had it to do all over again, Novo said, he might pursue a career in art instead of advertising.

He takes art classes twice a week at the local community college. A friend picks him up for class. His work recently placed in an arts and crafts show. Vono is thinking of trying to sell some of his pieces one day.

Vono's first love has now become the center of his life. Because of financial reasons, he recently moved from assisted living into his own apartment in Abingdon. But his easel sits in his living room in front of large windows with plenty of sunlight.

"It's perfect for painting," he said.

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

twitter.com: ankwalker

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