Artist draws out stories and smiles of senior citizens
by Mathilde Rousseau Bjerregaard
Published - 12/24/17 - 12:01 PM | 1 1 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
George, with artist Spence Willis, at the Golden Living Point Loma assisted living facility in the Midway District.
George, with artist Spence Willis, at the Golden Living Point Loma assisted living facility in the Midway District.
Sandy at the Golden Living Point Loma assisted living facility in the Midway District.
Sandy at the Golden Living Point Loma assisted living facility in the Midway District.
Don at White Sands in La Jolla.
Don at White Sands in La Jolla.
Fourth generation San Diegan and artist, Spencer Willis, runs the nonprofit Draw for Smiles, which gives him the opportunity to visit community centers, senior centers, and hospitals throughout San Diego County and create caricature drawings of the residents and spread joy and happiness.

“Draw for Smiles is a charity that reaches out to extend appreciation to others through fun, fast, caricatures, and improving lives through art,” said Willis.

Willis went to art school when he was younger and he has been an artist for almost his whole life. Along with Draw for Smiles, he runs his own art company named “Spencer Art,” where he draws caricature drawings for birthday parties, graduations, weddings and other special event celebrations. He also works on outside art projects.

“I want to make people smile through caricature art and life appreciation. It is an amazing affect it has on people to be drawn and to talk about their lives. It really brightens their day,” said Willis.

Many years ago, Willis was in a bad motorcycle accident that sent him into a coma and left his dominant side paralyzed, so he became left handed. After going though a lot of therapy, he can now draw with his right hand again. But the accident inspired him to make a difference in the community, and to do something positive for the world.

Willis started out doing charity work by drawing children’s cartoon books titled “Scully’s Books.” While doing that, he found out that he was better at drawing characters, and that artwork eventually turned into Draw for Smiles, which he has been running for about five years now.

“I have devoted my life to Draw for Smiles and drawing caricature drawings, and the affect it has on peoples life’s is sensational,” said Willis.

While Willis is drawing the caricature drawings of the residents at the senior centers, he is listening to them tell their life stories. He thinks that the fact he is taking his time to listen to their stories makes a big difference for the seniors.

“The stories people share about their lives while being drawn at senior centers are simply amazing, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always heartwarming,” said Willis.

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