< Artist, 88, Draws a Picture Every Day During the Pandemic
By Jonathan Evans
17 May 2021

Eighty-eight-year-old Robert Seaman has been drawing since he was a boy. At age 60, he left his job selling houses and other properties to take up his hobby professionally. But it took the coronavirus pandemic to fully return him to what he loved to do.

Seaman said, as a child, he sometimes liked to keep to himself and sometimes was "an extrovert."

He added, "But in my introvert phase, I would love to go up to my room where I had a drawing table kind of desk and I'd spend hours up there drawing pictures. That's what I'm doing now."

Seaman recently marked one year since he started drawing what he calls his "daily doodles." He lives at the Maplewood Assisted Living center in Westmoreland, New Hampshire. He spends about six hours a day working on his doodles. He starts his drawings in pencil. He then finishes them with ink, colored pencil and watercolor.

"After a long life, I'm back doing what I did when I was 11 years old," he said. "And it's great, I love it. I'm so lucky that I can do this."

Seaman moved into Maplewood just two weeks before pandemic restrictions cut residents off from the outside world. For many months, they could not leave their rooms. It was only recently that they were permitted to interact in common areas without masks.

"The first thought I had was to just do some kind of dark stuff that reflected the nature of the confinement that we were experiencing and the difficulties that were created by this pandemic," he said. "Then it just started to grow, and I thought it would be interesting to do one a day."

Artist Robert Seaman pauses while sketching in his room at an assisted living facility Monday, May 10, 2021, in Westmoreland, N.H.
Artist Robert Seaman pauses while sketching in his room at an assisted living facility Monday, May 10, 2021, in Westmoreland, N.H.

He started sending the doodles to his daughter, Robin Hayes, and other friends and family. Hayes then shared them on Facebook. As interest grew, she began offering the drawings and prints for sale online. Half of the money earned was donated to causes, including a COVID-19 aid program, a homeless shelter and an organization that helps refugees.

As the days passed, Seaman's art got brighter in both subject matter and appearance.

Some pieces show his interest in science fiction. Other drawings have playful images of animals or show his sense of humor. One drawing, "Portraits of a Shy Family," shows framed paintings of the backs of people's heads. A much-loved cat, Piper, shows up in many other drawings.

Seaman says he will "probably kick the bucket" before he runs out of ideas. To "kick the bucket" is an expression that means to die.

Seaman added, "I might be watching something on television, and someone will have a picture on the wall that will give me an idea. When I go to sleep at night, for a few minutes I try to think of some new ideas."

Doodle #365, called "Potpourri" shows the Earth behind other objects. They include his cat Piper, a mechanical bird Seaman keeps on his desk, a horse and a man wearing a hat and eyewear. It is framed by a series of shapes that look like calligraphy but are not actual letters. Seaman said he has no plans to stop drawing.

"It keeps me occupied, and I love doing it, but it also does help some other people, which is kind of nice," he said.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Holly Ramer reported on this story for the Associated Press. Jonathan Evans adapted this story for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.


Words in This Story

hobby –n. an activity that people do for pleasure when they are not working

extrovert –n. a friendly, outgoing person who likes being with and talking to other people

introvert –n. a shy person; a person who does not find it easy to talk to other people

doodle –n. a drawing of done without too much thought or preparation

reflect –v. to show; to make something known

confinement –n. the act or state of being kept in a small space away from other people

framed –adj. describing something that has an outer structure containing or surrounding it

calligraphy –n. the art of making beautiful handwriting

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