Meet Jonah Dillon, Austin painter using his wheelchair to create artwork

State & Regional

Austin resident Jonah Dillon, diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, uses the wheels of his wheelchair to create canvas paintings. (Courtesy: Jonah Dillon)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin resident Jonah Dillon has been creating artwork for most of his life. From kindergarten through high school, he was especially interested in drawing, taking art electives as he got older to hone his skills.

Dillon was born with muscular dystrophy, a combination of genetic diseases that results in reduced muscle mass. After graduating high school, his condition had progressed to the point he could no longer use his hands to draw.

Now, Dillon is taking his creativity for a spin, using the wheels on his wheelchair to create canvas paintings.

“I kind of had this silly idea of like, ‘oh, I should make YouTube videos of me running over things and film it in slow motion,’” he said. “And then it was like, ‘no, I should get paint and run over that.’ And that’s kind of where it came from.”

After a few years of putting his artwork on the backburner following his disease’s progression, Dillon began creating again in 2018. As he’s adapted to this new art form, he’s modified his techniques from tempera paint and cardboard canvases to acrylics and canvas boards.

Sometimes, he said he uses a spray bottle to create a drip effect in his pieces. Lately, though, he’s been drawn to acrylic pouring, a technique that involves pouring pools of paint to create a layered effect.

“It’s basically mixed up with your paint to thin it down, and that causes it to have cool layers,” he said. “And I say that I really like how that looks. It’s just added a whole new layer to my artwork.”

He said his inspiration varies with each piece, but often comes from his surrounding environment. Anything from an album cover’s color palette to the changing foliage could set off a proverbial lightbulb for his next creation, he said.

On Saturday, Dillon’s artwork will be on display at the Almost Real Things Magazine’s art show as well as highlighted in the publication’s November issue.

For him, he said art has always been a cornerstone of his life. Now, he said his hope is that having his work displayed at shows like Almost Real Things will help expose more people to his creative style.

“I’ve always enjoyed making art,” he said, later adding: “[Almost Really Things will] help you take your art out there….because they were artists and didn’t know how to get their artwork out there.”

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