FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — Abstract artist Alder Crocker just opened his first show, but art is a relatively new addition to his life. The Fairfield resident turned tragedy into a newfound talent.

“The biggest thing I wanted to do was create art in vibrant, colorful ways,” he said, hoping people find something new in every piece each time they look at it.

Crocker was on vacation when an accident changed his life forever and in the 20 months since the recovery has shown him artistic ability he never knew he had.

“Right before the accident, the kids had left the house, we were empty-nesters, we were having an absolute wonderful time, and then the accident happened and learned to have our next best life.”

An accident in the ocean on vacation changed his life forever.

“The sand gave way and I lost balance, my hands were behind me and I fell and broke my neck,” he said.

Now, he’s paralyzed from the chest down but the recovery process from that accident brought art into his life.

“I was the stick figure guy,” he said, “I was the partner at an advertising and marketing firm, so really I had no artistic ability at all, and then I went to rehab, the art therapist came to me and said that she thought it would be a good idea, it’s good for muscle memory, to get you back into the swing of things, and I loved it.”

People love his art, too. It’s on display now at Rene Soto Gallery in Norwalk.

“I’m absolutely humbled, I had no idea I would enjoy painting as much as I do,” he said, “and that it was good enough for the gallery to take a shot on.”

He wants you to look at his art in different ways — he even has many pieces on a rotating mount to help you see it at a different angle. He also wants people to see disabilities in a different way.

“It’s a good thing for people who are disabled to show people we’re out there and this is the stuff we can do,” he said.

Alder says art is just the beginning of what he wants to accomplish.

“I want to get back into the ocean to ride some more waves. I’ve got a great group of friends and they’re going to help me make that reality,” he said, “that would make my dreams come true, to get back into the ocean, that’s always been my greatest hobby and joy in my life before the accident.”

Alder Crocker’s paintings are on display at Rene Soto Gallery through March 11.