Internal mini form
Contact Us Today
Painter expresses everyday life through art
His paintings are reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh’s swirls of color and Claude Monet’s muted shades, but often times, the subject matter depicted in Rick Hohn’s artwork is straight out of his own life.
As a 65-year-old accomplished artist, associate pastor, teacher, mentor and author with Cerebral Palsy, Hohn’s favorite topic is that of people who have disabilities participating in everyday life. Performing tasks, participating in activities, working and having fun. In other words, these paintings immortalize, in art, Rick’s experiences.
“My favorite subject is painting people with disabilities struggling to do various tasks,” he said. “I also like landscapes with paths to remind us to take paths to eternity.”
Rick began painting as a young man growing up in Venice, California. Because Rick’s case of Cerebral Palsy is severe (though not, he said as severe as other cases he knows of), he uses a wheelchair for mobility and has limited use of his arms.
Inspired by impressionist works and his mother’s love for art they determined that his impairment not become a roadblock to creating beautiful art. His mother encouraged her teenage son to learn to paint, but in a different way than his peers. She attached a paint brush to the pointer Rick used to operate a communication device.
“I started painting when I was about 16, but I didn’t take my art talent seriously until I was in my late 30s,” he said.
Early inspirations have optimistic voice
Rick continues to be an optimistic voice in the disabled community. Rick was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was two years old. Despite growing up in a climate that offered special education separate from other students, Louise wanted her son to enjoy the same cultural and recreational opportunities other young people enjoyed.
It was in high school that Rick’s teachers began encouraging his work.
“I first painted traditional, impressionistic landscapes, he said. “Then, my art instructor challenged me to develop my own style.” He liked Christian messages with spiritual undertones such as people rising above and eternal paths.
Rick’s physical challenges have informed his work.
“I enjoyed painting friends who had polio, wondering how (sec) it would be like to be paralyzed but free from spasticity that I hated,” he said. “I know that this is weird. When my disability art didn’t sell very well, I returned to landscapes.”
Working mostly in oils but sometimes in watercolors and acrylics, Rick worked hard to develop his talent, but he encountered emotional barriers and self-doubt.
“When I first preached with my DynaVox original I saw people’s eyes drop in amazement knowing that I was intelligent. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without a speaking device…To those who have been hesitant about TAC (technology augmentative communication) device, I would like to tell them that it is time to get a device and have the thrilling experience of power of speech, and the world will open up to them with far greater educational, vocational and even social opportunities.”
– Rick Hohn
“I strongly believe in giving of myself as much as possible. In doing so, people that know me don’t notice my disability. In return, my giving comes back to me.”
– Rick Hohn
Technically, Rick paints much in the same way he did as a teen yet his subject is more realistic. “I use my head stylus to paint and to access my DynaVox Maestro communication device to talk as well as to type on my computer,” he said. “For painting, a paintbrush is taped to my pointer.”
“People weren’t skeptical about my art talent,” he said. “But I was skeptical because I wanted to paint realistic instead of impressionistic.”
Although painting relaxes Rick’s muscles, he sometimes experiences spasticity.
“Sometimes, I have spasms in my neck when I paint, causing seamless mistakes,” he said. “But these mistakes are later assets, as with life in general.”
In addition to painting, Rick currently enjoys a rich life, both professionally and spiritually, in Escondido, Calif., which is outside San Diego, in a home he shares with a live-in caregiver.
He has worked for 16 years as a senior consumer representative and trainer for a firm called DynaVox Systems, LLC, a provider of speech-generating devices. His work with DynaVox has taken him to several cities and has afforded him the opportunity to assist in the research and development of technological devices that can help disabled people, in the most literal of ways, find their voice.
One of Rick’s true passions is his role as an associate pastor for the Spirit Wheel Ministry. He delivers sermons and makes presentations using his voice device and computer. He also travels to other churches, schools and organizations in the United States and in Mexico to deliver messages of faith and optimism.
“When I first preached with my DynaVox original I saw people’s eyes drop in amazement knowing that I was intelligent,” he said. “Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without a speaking device. With my (Dynavox) Vmax I see my life exploding with great opportunities because of the clear voice as well as the emailing and internet capabilities.”
“To those who have been hesitant about TAC (technology augmentative communication) device, I would like to tell them that it is time to get a device and have the thrilling experience of power of speech, and the world will open up to them with far greater educational, vocational and even social opportunities,” said Rick.
He has previously been a mentor for United Cerebral Palsy, worked as an art therapist, and taught art classes. Rick has also written two books, the first of which is a devotional called “Psalms of Praises” which builds upon the concept that there is power in praise and worship.
Rick also has an upcoming autobiography, “More than a Watchmaker.” The biography offers Rick’s perspective on his struggles and triumphs, as well as the role of spirituality.
A message he likes to send to others with Cerebral Palsy is one that discourages complacency.
“I advise a person with CP never to accept limitations from other people or him or her,” he said. “The latter is important because a person with CP places limitations on his or her own too easily.”
Rick believes that it’s important for people with Cerebral Palsy to reach out.
“I strongly believe in giving of myself as much as possible,” he said. “In doing so, people that know me don’t notice my disability. In return, my giving comes back to me.”
For more information on Rick:
In addition, YouTube features several videos of Rick Hohn utilizing his communication device while interacting out and about within the community, in front of congregations and for his employer.
Painting is a popular pastime with an end result that’s as precise as the skill required to compose and execute images on canvas. Artists with Cerebral Palsy, however, know that the most intricate brushstrokes are often not made by the hand or fine motor skills alone.
- Anne Abbott – Painter
- Zach Anner – Comedian
- Josh Blue – Comedian
- AJ Brown – Painter
- Zach Fenell – Inspiring Writer
- Mark Giovi – Singer
- Rick Hohn – Motivational Speaker
- Hank Holland – Painter
- Geri Jewell – Actor and Comedienne
- Dan Keplinger – Artist
- Gregg Mozgala – Dancer
- Andrew Pilkington – Graphic Artist
- Ron Sapinoso – Filmmaker
- Paul Smith – Typewriter Artist