Valley Artist’s Unique Drawing Method Eclipses Disability
Award-winning Harrisonburg artist Bruce Dellinger spends hours drawing the animals and landscapes of Virginia - and he does it all with his mouth.
Dellinger is a tetraplegic, but if you ask him, he'll say he's just a man who had an accident.
He says he’s been in a wheelchair since July 11, 1981. He was up on a hayloft with his dad when he discovered a yellow jackets’ nest.
“I tripped on baler twine, slipped off the loft, fell about 25 feet, landed on my neck on concrete and boards,” Dellinger said.
He crushed his fifth and sixth vertebrae. Dellinger was 14 at the time, and very athletic.
“I played in a lot of sports - football, basketball. I could no longer do those things anymore,” he said.
So Dellinger had to rediscover who he was. His aunt suggested art, so he started oil painting, then he tried pastels, and then charcoal drawing - all using his mouth to control his tools.
“I got tired of having black lips, black nose, black eyebrows and everything else, so I eventually switched to pencil,” Dellinger said.
That's when people started asking for his work.
“Can you draw me this? Can you draw me that? How much would you sell this for?” he said.
And now, more than 20 years later, Dellinger gets paid thousands for an original piece of art.
“I'm just living life,” he said. “I'm just doing what I'm here to do.”
Dellinger says each drawing can take anywhere from 50 to a couple-hundred hours. He says he wants to have more than 200 creations and he's already halfway there.
If you'd like to contact Dellinger for your own work of art, you can visit his website.