One of the polymer clay artists I'd most like to meet is Mary Lamoray of Florida. Her clay paintings are beautiful beyond words and so rich in color and subtle details that they seem as alive as the subjects they're based on. She uses no paint or inks of any kind in her work. Everything you see is 100% clay. She may not readily admit it, but I think she adds a bit of her heart and soul in each one, too. Her newest painting, the dolphin that you see here, was recently posted on her blog and she talks a bit about how she created it in this post.
Mary has spoken publicly about her life as an artist dealing with an advanced form of MS. I've read some of her essays (which I'm now unable to locate online) in the past and they are every bit as profound and moving as her artwork. I feel such a deep sense of admiration for her and her art that I'm struggling to even find the right words.
If you'd like to read more about Mary's fascinating process, she's written about it here.
Perseverance, optimism, grace, and talent - she's the total package.