This tortoise reminds me of my grandfather’s pet tortoise “Beauregarde”. He lived in their backyard during warm weather and hibernated in a box in the garage during the winter. This fellow in my artwork is in his natural environment in the desert sand. When I painted this piece I was working to create a an representation for each of the biomes in the world and he is a good example of an animal living in a desert biome. I chose this image because of the shadow and light and the opportunity to explore the warm colors and geometric shapes on his shell. I started with neutral oranges and added reds and pinks to give him form. This was my second time using a sponge to create the native grasses. The color palette and grounded tortoise image give me a feeling of calm and peace. —Donald Ryker

Donald Ryker has been painting since his teens. He was inspired to begin painting when he discovered he could use a hard hat on his head to direct his brush. He has lived his life with cerebral palsy and was thrilled to find an outlet for his creativity and a way to communicate his love of life, and his message to people that anyone can accomplish things in life if they are creative and persistent; there is always a way to find the positive in life. Ryker's paintings reflect his joy in life, and his desire to connect. His artwork inspires others with his choice of color and ability to draw in his viewer.


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