Years before Daniel Arroyo spoke, he expressed himself with art. He just always loved to draw. Cartoon characters were his first subjects. He’d sit in front of the TV, making wavy pen lines on sheets of printer paper until an image of SpongeBob SquarePants or Thomas the Tank Engine appeared on the paper.

Daniel won his first art contest when he was 7 years old, about the time he started talking. Shortly after that, his parents enrolled him at the Young At Art painting studio in Cupertino. There, he went from ink drawings to oil painting. His father said the hardest part for Daniel was learning how to mix all the different hues he wanted, like skin tones, from the three primary colors.

Now 23 years old, Daniel spends about 20 hours a week painting in his family’s garage and takes a new art course at De Anza College each quarter. Besides oil paints, Daniel has worked with metal, clay, charcoal and acrylics. His subjects span the real and imagined, from a bowl of fruit to a group of aliens to Freddy Krueger of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”

His inspiration? “Anything that comes to mind.”

Daniel participates in the Abilities United Independent Living Skills and Computer Education programs. He also takes classes at both De Anza College and Art Hub Academy.  Daniel enjoys studying art as well as meeting new people also interested in the arts.

A few years ago, when he first thought about the possibility of selling his art, Daniel was nervous about parting with any of the paintings he had worked so hard on. Now, he has a different view.  Daniel believes his work is important to show that people with disabilities can be successful in whatever path they choose. Daniel is focused on building his career as an artist and participates in exhibitions with Abilities United.  He has sold several of his paintings through Abilities United and his work has been shown at the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose, The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco and at the LinkedIn headquarters.

In 2017, Daniel was also selected to be among the first Abilities United artists to be featured on the ArtLifting website where art lovers can purchase a selection of his original paintings as well as prints.

He is thrilled about the professional opportunities of working with a company like ArtLifting and the chance to share his artwork with the world: “It’s important for me to have my own career and artwork is a way to do that!”

His parents, Dan and Toni, are happy to see him doing something he loves and getting rewarded for it.

“I just want him to be happy with himself,” his dad said.