Watching Dorris Woods intricately paint flowers and a cascade of cobblestone steps, it’s not obvious that she only recently learned to paint. An assortment of her finished oil paintings sitting nearby – depicting beautiful oceans, waterfalls and flowers – look similar to those completed by her distinguished teacher, Sally Seago, although Seago has been painting for 60 years and Woods for only two.
Woods – who turns 100 years old on Saturday – took up painting for the first time at age 98, something the native Fresnan was motivated to try while watching her son, Larry Woods, learn to paint. During one of his lessons, she was so overcome with inspiration that she took the paintbrush out of his hand and started painting herself. Thirty-plus paintings later, she’s still going.
She really is an example of what to do when we get older.
Sally Seago, Dorris Woods’ art teacher
“From the beginning, it was just love at first sight with the painting, and between us, too,” Seago says of her beloved pupil.
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Woods has become an inspiration to those around her to know that it’s never too late to pursue an interest and develop a new talent.
“I look at the future with more enthusiasm and gusto I think than I might have before,” says her 70-year-old son. “I’ve always been optimistic like Mom, but I think she helps our family see, ‘Get off the couch, go forward, do something positive. It’s never too late.’ ”
For those considering taking up a new interest later in life, Woods says “Do it! Go for it!”
She enjoys each day with new eyes.
Larry Woods, son of Dorris Woods
After a century of life, Woods is in good health. She still lives alone, cooking and caring for herself and working out in the yard, pruning roses.
“She runs and jumps around more than I do!” Seago says. “She is such an example of what you can do in life and age really isn’t important.”
As her son gushes about his mother’s enduring vitality and wit, Woods jumps in to add another accomplishment to the list: “And I pitched the winning game at Roosevelt High School! I was 16.”
Seago adores her. The joyous, giggly Woods has been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement. Seago recently opened up to Woods about something bothering her, and she responded, “ ‘Oh, don’t let that bother you, dear. Just carry on, just carry on!’ And that’s what she does, she just carries on.”
Woods says she was previously too busy raising her two sons to learn how to paint. No longer.
“It’s giving me new feelings about things that you see … every day,” Woods says of painting. “Impressive.”
Tremors in her hands often cease when she’s painting
“And in some cases,” Seago says, “the tremor has added to the painting and it’s beautiful.”
Woods gets much of the inspiration for her paintings from nature, which she loves because nature is “from God.” And thanks to painting, her son says, “She enjoys each day with new eyes.”
“When I look at things I enjoy what I see – and maybe, I can paint it!” Woods says happily, a sparkle in her blue eyes.
Seago says Woods continues to make great progress as an artist.
“There’s no end to what she can do,” Seago says. “I expect her to be painting better than this at 106.”