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'It pleases me because it’s something I can give them'

Zoe Greszler • Feb 7, 2019 at 1:00 PM

It’s never too late to find something you’re good at. Gaymont Nursing and Rehabilitation resident Millie Woodruff is living proof of that.

Now 97, Woodruff found she has a real talent for drawing just three years ago and has caught the eye of many since then, even having her drawings and paintings featured at local art shows. The discovery happened somewhat by accident when Woodruff attended an activity at the nursing home called art therapy.

“I hadn’t done it for a long, long time,” she said of drawing before going to the activity. “I did it when I was in grade school but then we didn’t have anymore art classes. I was never taught anything (with art). I just would draw what I would like whenever I had an idea. Then there was a woman hired here for what was called art therapy. It was for people wanted to do something but didn’t know how. She would show them how.”

And so it began. At first Woodruff said she would just color pictures. Then a friend said they wanted a drawing and the Norwalk woman decided to give it a try. 

“I found out I can draw people pretty well,” she said. “I’m not good at trees or flowers very well, but I can draw people.”

Never having owned a sketchbook before, she would create her masterpieces on pieces of scrap paper until her daughter gifted her her very first book. She has since filled that with 68 completed original drawings and has filled two other. 

“Anything I want to draw, I draw it in there first,” she said. “I’ve given out I don’t know how many pictures. And I’ll show (the sketches) to people and they’ll pick one out and I’ll draw that one again for them or if anybody ever wants a picture I always say ‘Just ask me because I’ll do it.’ And then I’ll draw it and copy it and paint it.”

Woodruff said since she started she hasn’t had to purchase any of her sketch books, colored pencils, paints or other materials. Instead, after seeing her beautiful works of art, others have given her the supplies she needs as gifts. 

“I guess they just loved it and then they’d get to enjoy more of what I was doing too,” she said.

Millie said she doesn’t draw everyday, but she did create four original pieces in December —  one Christmas picture, two winter scenes with people and one of children playing in the summertime. She said the art therapist “was a big help to me,” having helped her with many stumbling blocks while she was there for the first year of Woodruff’s drawing. 

“If I had a problem with one picture, something just wasn’t right, I’d ask her and then she was always helpful. I’m really happy I had her for that whole year,” she said. “She was a big help. I never had a class, I never learned anything. It was just something that I have a knack for apparently.”

Woodruff said she continues drawing now as a way to give back. She said seeing others enjoy her work is her favorite part of the process.

“I like to draw just because I can make something that somebody likes or that I like,” she said.

“I love to read for one thing. Some people have told me that it’s like I’m drawing a story. Everything can be made into a story and I think that’s probably it. It’s like making a story when I draw a picture. ... And it gives me pleasure. And then if somebody likes the picture then it pleases me because it’s something I can give them. It’s the only thing I can give. I don’t have any money or have any things. But this is something that I can give them and they really enjoy it.”

Woodruff said she doesn’t intend to allow her age to stop her flow of creativity anytime soon.

“In three year I’m going to be 100 years old,” she said. “When you’re 100 years old and to be drawing I guess they think that’s something. This is all something i can give to my family. ... I really enjoy it. I’ll just keep on drawing as long as I can.”

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