For Tim Liddy, painting is a way to both find and lose himself.

"When you're painting. It's nice to be away in the quiet, "he says.

Almost everything the 55-year-old paints is either sold or hanging in a gallery or museum, including his 1960's board-game box covers on copper.

"I'm a baby boomer right on the cusp there, so I've always been fascinated with that time," Liddy said.

Every piece is a statement about race, gender and other cultural issues of the time. But they are also a statement about his own courage.

When he was 16, Liddy broke his neck while playing hockey.

"I didn't move anything from the neck down for about nine months," he said.

It was almost like starting life over. And it was during rehab that Tim decided that his blank canvas needed some paint.

"Part of occupational therapy," he said, "they would tie these pencils to my hand and put a ball underneath it to be able to move my arm."

And though he still has limited movement, he's learned to adapt and his brush strokes seem unlimited.

Nearly 40 years after his accident, Liddy works out as much as he did when he played hockey.

"I'm trying to get better than I was the day before," he said.

"He is an athlete and maybe people looking at him wouldn't think that but he is. He is pushing his body to the limit for his own health and well being," said Lindsey Kampwerth from the gym at Paraquad.

But it's here where he can help others who need a push.

Liddy is a professor of art at Fontbonne University and inspiration is part of the education.

"He's a force of nature," student Abraham Mohler said. "What makes him such a great teacher is how much fun he puts into the subject."

"His life has really inspired him and all of us to really understand what it is to be an artist and the struggles that it takes to be an artist," student Hannah Ehret said.

Back in his studio, he admits that his students are the brightest colors on his palette.

"Very few things are more satisfying than when somebody finally gets it after all the hard work and the light that kind of comes on," Liddy said.

Disability doesn't mean inability. Tim Liddy illustrates that you can't go forward while looking backward.

"You get strength from those people around you and you owe it to them to work hard," Liddy said.

One man whose got perseverance down to a fine art.