Tue | Jun 15, 2021

88-y-o artist finishes year of pandemic ‘daily doodles’

Published:Sunday | May 16, 2021 | 12:09 AM
Artist Robert Seaman works on his 365th daily doodle in his room at an assisted living facility in Westmoreland, N.H. Seaman, who moved into the facility weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down his outside world in 2020, recently completed his 365th d
Artist Robert Seaman works on his 365th daily doodle in his room at an assisted living facility in Westmoreland, N.H. Seaman, who moved into the facility weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down his outside world in 2020, recently completed his 365th daily sketch, or what he calls his “COVID Doodles”, since being isolated due to the virus outbreak.
Artist Robert Seaman holds up the 365th daily doodle sketch.
Artist Robert Seaman holds up the 365th daily doodle sketch.
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WESTMORELAND, New Hampshire (AP)

Much like the round clock faces, gears, and planets that often populate his artwork, Robert Seaman has come full circle. Seaman, 88, has been drawing since he was a boy, and at age 60, left a real estate career to pursue his hobby professionally. But it took the coronavirus pandemic to fully return him to his passion.

“As a kid, I kept lurching between being a loner and being an extrovert,” he said. “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.”

Tuesday marked one year since Seaman started churning out “daily doodles” from his small, one-room apartment at the Maplewood Assisted Living facility in Westmoreland, New Hampshire. He spends about six hours a day working on his intricate, fanciful illustrations, starting with pencil sketches and finishing with ink, coloured pencil, and watercolour.

“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 in to Maplewood just two weeks before the pandemic restrictions cut residents off from the outside world. For many months, they couldn’t leave their rooms. It was only last week that they were allowed to interact in hallways and other common areas without masks.

INTERESTING TO DO

“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.”

He started sending the doodles to his daughter, Robin Hayes, and other friends and family. Hayes then shared them on Facebook, and as interest grew, began offering the originals and prints for sale on Etsy.com, with half the proceeds going to charities, including a COVID-19 relief fund, a homeless shelter, and an organisation that helps refugees.

As the days passed, Seaman’s art got a bit brighter in both theme and appearance.

Some pieces showcase his fascination with science fiction while others portray whimsical animals or sly humour – #131, “Portraits of a Shy Family,” depicts framed paintings of the backs of heads. Robots carrying purple flags march across the page. Blackbirds burst from a pie. A squiggly-lined brain is sandwiched between two burger buns. A much-loved cat, Piper, shows up in all kinds of scenes.