Artist didn't let condition stop his dream

Eric Ovelgone is an artist from Finksburg. Ovelgone works in a wide variety of mediums from pen and ink to oil paints and goes by the pseudonym DarkRubyMoon. Ovelgone has a webpage at DarkRubyMoon.com that provides links to his artwork and blogs. Most of his artwork is displayed online at Deviant Art http://darkrubymoon.deviantart.com/ and REDBUBBLE (http://darkrubymoon.redbubble.com) under the name DarkRubyMoon.
Ovelgone has spinal muscular dystrophy, a rare form of Muscular dystrophy. Spinal Muscular Dystrophy results from a problem in the genes such that they do not produce a certain protein necessary for his muscles to function normally such that he has the physical strength equivalent to that of a child but the body of an adult. This muscle condition prevents him from being able to walk or lift his arms very high. Ovelgone is in a wheelchair and has very limited use of his hands and arms and virtually no ability to move his legs. Due to his disability, he frequently occupied his time with a drawing pad and paper as he spent a lot of time at doctor's appointments when he was young.
Luckily for Ovelgone, there was a retired art teacher in the neighborhood who treated him as a grandson, giving him art lessons from the time he was six years old until Ovelgone was in high school. In addition, Ovelgone's older sister is also an artist and would give tips on art technique. When first learning how to draw, he copied cartoon images drawn by his art teacher until able to work on more complicated images. He started with pencils, then colored pencils, then watercolor and acrylics. By the time he was in high school, Ovelgone was proficient at many mediums of art and received awards for his art.
Ovelgone likes all mediums of art. One of his favorite mediums is oil painting although his disability can make such artwork difficult. When he does oils, he likes to make them large, but this can be a problem because of his limited ability to move his arms. To work on larger works, Ovelgone must sometimes attach a dowel to the paintbrush so he can reach the painting or turns his paintings upside down so he can reach them. Because of physical restraints, He usually works on smaller works or does much of his artwork and drawings on the computer.
Throughout much of elementary school and High School into college, Eric Ovelgone earned extra money by making crafts in his own business called Custom Country Crafts. Ovelgone would drew a pattern and his father cut it out of wood. Then Ovelgone painted the wooden cut outs in a variety of ways. Cat clocks, chests, lamps, refrigerator magnets and more were best sellers. He also painted custom images for people on wooden plaques.
Ovelgone attended Loyola College in Maryland where he continued to take art courses. At Loyola, he was frequently asked to do artwork for events including the T-shirt designs for T-shirts given to new students at student orientation and posters for college events.
Ovelgone majored in business instead of art, though he continued to pursue art as a hobby, and graduated with a B.A. degree. He took a job at Governor Glendenning's office on the Employment of People with Disabilities where he was an administrative assistant and did mostly secretarial work. Due to his disability, he found this job was too physically demanding for him since it required many physical demands which were difficult to perform.
Ovelgone decided to go back to college and major in computer programming which he did through a 32 credit accelerated program provided by the Division of Rehabilitation Services through Community College Baltimore County Catonsville. From there he went to work for Bell Atlantic as a contracted computer programmer. He also worked for Argus Group Inc. for a while until they downsized as a computer programmer.
After he left Argus, he began to look into attendant care that he needed to function on a daily basis. He had hoped to buy his own house when he was working but realized that attendant care was too much for him to pay, nearly $80,000 a year, and there were few programs that could help with paying for attendant care, especially when one was employed.
It was also difficult for him to get to his job. He had to get up a 4 am and it was hard for his parents to get him to work and back. He also kept getting sick from the long hours and work demands. Although Ovelgone wanted to work, his only option became working at home.
It was at the time that there was an economic downturn as well, so many computer jobs had gone overseas. Most companies with telecommuting work were not providing health insurance that Eric Ovelgone needed due to his disability since something like a wheelchair alone he requires to move cost nearly $20,000. He could only get insurance when he was not working through disability and Medicare. There were just too many obstacles for him to go back to work although that is what he wanted to do. Then he remembered his art.
"One thing about being unemployed is that everyone asked me what I did for a living and I had nothing I could tell them. " Ovelgone lamented that people tend to associate people solely with what they do for a living and less for who they are as a person. For someone with a severe disability who truly can not work, the lack of a self identification was depressing and had begun to make him question his self worth.
About this time, Ovelgone discovered Café Press online that puts your images on t-shirts and other objects. He created a Café Press shop called DarkRubyMoon after trying out a number of different names. The online store at http://www.cafepress.com/darkrubymoon allows Ovelgone to pursue his interest in art without earning too much money that might cause his critical disability attendant care and disability programs to be taken away.
Due to regulations for disability programs, Ovelgone is not allowed to earn more than $2,000 in total assets due to regulations for the attendant care program he receives called the Living at Home Waiver program. He also can not be employed as both attendant care and disability programs are contingent on the fact that he does not earn enough money to be considered employed. He is on disability that covers his other basic needs. Now, Ovelgone can proudly identify himself as a artist, an occupation and something that is a part of who he is as a person while retaining the programs he needs to survive.
When Ovelgone reflects on his artwork, he says he tries to avoid getting into a single style of art as he finds it boring to be locked into one genre or style. Currently, he is trying to perfect drawing people since his finds them harder to draw and more interesting. His favorite art is fantasy art such as Boris Vallejo, an American painter born in Peru, who is famous for his fantasy art and figures which convey action.
Another style he likes is anime and Japanese style art. Ovelgone likes to challenge himself, exploring new mediums and techniques and topics. Ovelgone tends to prefer fantasy or realism to modern art though he likes the bold colors and designs of modern pieces.
"Art is a means of expression that is difficult to put into words. They (words) have such a shortcoming. The word apple is just a word but in a painting it can have layers of meaning. In art, an apple is not merely just an apple, but all the things an apple represents." Ovelgone reflected. Ovelgone likes to incorporate symbolism in his artwork such that every painting tells a story with different meanings depending upon the interpretation of the symbols.
Ovelgone dreams of one day selling more of his artwork at events such as arts and craft shows. He did shows displaying his artwork until his mother had a severe stroke this past summer which has confined her to a wheelchair as well. The effect of his mother's stroke on Ovelgone's family has been quite severe as it has left Ovelgone's father and the attendants through the Living at Home Waiver and some family friends as the sole caregivers for Ovelgone, his oldest sister who is also in a wheelchair, and his mother.
He is unsure whether this modest dream of selling his artwork more extensively at shows and events is possible given his parents failing health and the restrictions imposed by regulations in the disability programs for which his life depends upon.