The Biography of Ronald Goodman

The paintings and drawings of Ronald Goodman provide glimpses of the beauty and behaviors of wildlife species found in southern Georgia, including birds and waterfowl, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.  Some scenes portray the intensity of life or death struggles between predator and prey, while others show the tenderness of interactions between mothers and their young.  Among other types of natural dramas depicted in his drawings are feeding, mating rituals, nesting, and competition.  Each wildlife scene reflects a lifetime's observations of flora and fauna in the woods, fields, and waterways surrounding the small Ben Hill county farm that has been Ronald's home since birth.  Many, if not most, of the scenes reflect a vivid and special memory.  All of these artistic works reflect hours of field observations, specimen study, and literary research aimed at providing naturalistic portrayals of the wild creatures' appearances, movements, and habitats.  The mediums utilized vary, ranging from acrylics and oils to pen and ink and colored and graphite pencils.

Ronald's fascination with Georgia wildlife stems from his interests in birding, fishing, woodsman ship, and conservation.  These interests were fostered early by his grandfather and have remained a focal point of his life.  His choice to pursue a career promoting admiration and conservation of wildlife though art, however, can not so simply be explained.  By eighteen years of age Ronald had worked in many areas, from farm labor, to working in his grandfather's welding and machine shop, to operating heavy machinery.  Had you asked him than what his career would be, his answer would have been one that involved being outdoors and leaving plenty of time for wandering in the wood and practicing for a dream career as a professional bass fisherman.  His trophies and photographs and the stories of friends will tell you that the dream of being a professional bass fisherman was not far-fetched!  However, on a fishing trip on July 4, 1985, Ronald's career plans changed dramatically as he dove into a shallow part of the Ocmulgee River to escape the heat, injuring his spinal cord and leaving him incapable of using either his hands or his legs.  Although his life changed dramatically in that moment, he was not defeated and stood firm in his desire to train for a career that would let him spend much of  his time surrounded by nature.  Upon his return from rehabilitation therapy, he began studies in art, completing his formal education at Abraham Baldwin College.

Today, Ronald works from his studio, located in a wooded area of his family's farm in Fitzgerald, Georgia.  Currently, much of his artistic focus is upon drawing the birds that he sees there.  To compensate for the loss of use of his hands, he uses special arm and hand braces, as well as other gadgets that he invents and that his father, Ronnie, and brother, Tracy construct in the family's  welding and machine shop.  Using a wheelchair with all terrain tires, he wonders through the surrounding fields and natural areas, enjoying and studying wildlife.  In his studio, he transfers these observations to drawings or paintings by bending over a special easel and guiding one hand with his other arm.  His mother, Vivian, and other family and friends assist him by laying out paints and supplies.  Additionally, his mother completes all of the framing.  Ronald travels across Georgia, teaching school children about Georgia wildlife and art through active workshops and sharing his passion for wildlife conservation with adults through speaking at civic meetings and other forums.

Ronald Goodman's works have been used by a number of charitable organizations for fund raising, including the National Wild Turkey Federation, Wheelin' Sportsmen, Duck's Unlimited, Easter Seals, Hospice and the American Cancer Society.  Drawings and paintings have additionally been shown in a variety of notable museums and galleries, including wildlife conservation agencies such as the National Wildlife Federation gallery in Vienna, Virginia and the Albany Museum of Art in Albany, Georgia.  His works have been recognized with a variety of awards and have been the focus of several magazine and newspaper articles, as well as television features.

Photo by Mike Dominick