Donald Ryker, disabled hard hat painter – see my living space transformed into a painting studio

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Hard Hat Painter Donald Ryker

This video shows my process to get ready to paint!

Do you who want to see how a disabled hard hat painter can do what I do? My studio is unique because it has to work for me and I have cerebral palsy. I can’t paint with my hands, so I use a hard hat with a stick attached. My painting assistant tapes my brush to that stick and mixes paint. Creative solutions in my home studio make it possible for me to paint so being disabled does not limit me.

My Studio is designed around a small space and being accessible

Adaptation for disabled computer users

I am in a high rise condo, so I have very little space but a great view and great lighting. Getting ready to paint starts when I select a subject on the computer and print it. My bedroom doubles as my office so that is where computer, printer, etc are located. Even here, I have adaptations for a disabled person to make computer use possible. A joystick and on screen keyboard give me independence. This photo I print becomes my inspiration and guide for my artwork.

Creative multitasking for my furniture

Next, you get to see my living space transformed into a painting studio thanks to my attendant. My art supplies are in a tool cabinet on wheels that fits behind my couch like a sofa table, and a dining table that is actually a drafting table doubles as my art easel. I can’t use a standard easel and paint vertically because I am disabled and spend mosts of my day in my power wheelchair so I have a lap! My canvas must fit over my lap and be angled so I can reach with my hard hat and paint brush.

Charcoal Sketch transfers the image

The last step before starting to paint is the process of transferring the subject to my canvas with a charcoal sketch. I use a charcoal pencil attached to my hard hat and work on lines and proportions to do the transfer as accurately as I can. In this example I am using a dot method to position the enlarged image. My eyes can see what I want to sketch but my ability to draw the lines is still evolving. Sometimes being disabled causes the subject to take on a new shape but that is what makes my art unique. I try not to get too much Picasso effect.

See many videos of Donald Ryker painting 

If you want to see more once the painting begins go to my website and you will see other videos of me in action over the last few years. While you are there take a look around. There are more blog posts, and ways you can enjoy my artwork in your home or office. Original artwork and prints are also available.

Video is 4.5 minutes. Enjoy!



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