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Aurora veteran graduating from art school following 26 surgeries

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AURORA (KDVR) – An Aurora artist who is also a Vietnam War-era veteran says creating art by painting gives him a reason to keep moving forward.

On any given day, you’ll find 69-year-old Ralph Root creating art in the basement of his Aurora home.

“Sometimes I lose track of time,” Root said.

With every stroke of the paint soaked brush on canvas, Root goes to a good place.

“It gives me the opportunity by adding all the little branches to think about all the things that happened in my life,” Root said while painting aspen trees on canvas.

One of those branches was the United States Army. Root was wounded in Korea during the Vietnam War. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and is now 100-percent disabled.

“I started this one when I was still in school and I didn’t get it finished before my hand surgery,“ Root said, referring to another painting.

Root now deals with degenerative joint disease and has had 26 surgeries since 1993.

Root is more than happy to deal with the pain while he paints. It may not look like it, but his paintings are his life preserver. 

“I guess it kind of relates to Bob Ross and ‘happy little tree,'” said Root.

His art has found its way to museums and private collections across the country.

He takes it seriously, too, and will soon be graduating from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a bachelor of arts degree in art.

“It also clears my mind and gives me an opportunity to relax,” said Root.

He talks about the trees he paints.

“You got so much characteristic to them that you can tell they’ve been through a lot. They’ve been through storms, they’ve been through drought, they’ve been through all kinds of things, but yet they are still standing.”

Just like the artist, Ralph Root.

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