Ben Hill County-- It's a story of triumph. An artist who has looked past a life changing accident to create outstanding work. If it wasn't for his accident, his talent may never have been noticed.
Ronald Goodman is an inspiration and does it all for the Love of Art. He captures the colorful detail of the wild, forever. A painter who is inspired by the outdoors. Goodman is a quadriplegic. "Most days I do pretty good."
"It's a struggle, but it's life. I'm a detail freak." His life took a turn for the worst when he was 18, fishing on the Ocmulgee River.
"I dove out of the front of my boat, and it was shallow water. I knew better and hate to even talk about how stupid it was when I got hurt, the water was only four foot deep."
He severed his spine. "If it had been one vertebrae higher, I wouldn't be able to move my arms and one vertebrae higher than that I would probably be on a respirator."
Instead, there's no feeling from the waist down. "You go from being independent to being waited on all the time." He can move his arms, but his hands are limp. "I wear these to keep my wrists straight. If I didn't wear these, my wrists would curl over."
He uses his mouth to put the paintbrush in a wrist splint to make acrylic masterpieces. "The splint holds the brush, and I prop it against my left hand and then prop it against my chin. It helps me stabilize myself, so I don't shake and carry on so much."
And steadies himself with his elbows. "I put my elbows down, that helps me with the fine detail." His left wrist splint holds a stick with a rubber stopper to poke the painting around.
He has good and bad days. "It's kind of frustrating, sometimes it looks impossible, but you have to sit down and work on it."
Goodman has been working at it for nearly 20 years. He started painting after his accident. "And if you mess up, you just paint over it and start over again, the beauty of paint." And the beauty of technology. The wheelchair assisted artist uses a digital camera, with the same stick he snaps a photo. He downloads pictures into his computer near his easel and paints those photos.
This is more than a hobby or therapy; it's a way of living. Originals go for five hundred to four-thousand dollars. But, it's very time consuming. He's already spent 45 hours on this painting which will eventually go off to a stamp competition in Delaware. "My biggest dream in life is to get my work put on a wildlife stamp."
Although his dreams were shattered one July 4th morning, nearly 20 years ago, he has overcome many obstacles, discovering a true talent for painting, capturing the love of fishing, the very thing that made him a quadriplegic.
Ronald Goodman has another major goal. He wants to paint a picture of each type of bird that lives in or migrates to Ben Hill County. Out of 241 birds, he has painted 30. He has two-hundred and eleven to go. You can see his artwork at the Albany Museum of Art starting February 15th. The exhibit ends May 14th.